Geneva, 27 October 2023 – The survival of a myriad of wild plants and animals will be addressed in the week-long 77th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee. The packed agenda of 77 items will address the most pressing global wildlife trade issues concerning high value timber and marine species as well as iconic species like big cats, jaguars, vaquitas, rhinos, elephants and tropical birds starting on Monday 6 November in Geneva.
CITES Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero, said: “This is the first meeting of the Standing Committee following the World Wildlife Conference - CoP19 -held last year in Panama City. With many of the ground-breaking decisions and resolutions adopted at CoP19 and following the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, it is now for the Standing Committee to review how the 184 Parties to CITES are contributing to the broader global agenda and progressing with the implementation of these decisions and resolutions. We look forward to welcoming this year’s record number of Parties and organizations to Geneva to contribute to the discussions of the Committee.”
This meeting is a stepping-stone towards the 20th meeting of the Conference of the Parties scheduled for 2025 and a way for Parties to check in on progress made on key issues such as improved engagement with indigenous people and local communities, the role of CITES in reducing the risk of future zoonotic disease outbreaks and progress to improve the regulation of trade. Issues related to jaguars, rhinos, Asian big cats, sharks, eels, marine turtles, great apes, Tibetan and saiga antelope and trade in timber tree species will be discussed.
Key highlights of the 77th meeting:
Progress in legislation and compliance matters
CITES is an international, legally binding instrument that must be implemented and enforced by the 184 Signatory Parties (183 countries and the European Union) that have agreed to be bound by it. SC77 will be considering any measures that may be needed to help Parties fulfil their obligations under the Convention. This could include recommendations to suspend trade for those that may not yet have put in place adequate legislation or carried out the scientific or legal assessments required to ensure trade in CITES-listed species is always sustainable, legal and traceable.
The CITES requirement on adequate national legislation to implement and enforce the Convention is an example of the unique strength of this global treaty. Encouraging progress has been made by a number of Parties towards the adoption of enhanced legislation to regulate international legal trade in wildlife and to stamp out wildlife crime.
The Standing Committee will also consider compliance recommendations for over 25 Parties from across the globe, including Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, the European Union, Guinea, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nigeria and others.
Tackling the rosewood crisis in Africa
A number of CITES-listed species have very high monetary value, and this applies in particular to precious timbers. Ensuring the sustainable management of and legal trade in these species is challenging. Information about large-scale illegal timber trade continues to come to the attention of the Secretariat, in particular with regards to rosewoods, ebonies and palisanders from Africa. This highlights the continued urgent need for enforcement efforts to address this wildlife crime and the assistance needed to get this trade onto a sustainable footing. The Standing Committee will also consider the future of a CITES initiative on forests.
Saving the vaquita from extinction
Totoaba and vaquita are marine species found in the waters of the northern Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez). International trade in both species has been prohibited under CITES since the 1970s. Today, the vaquita, a small porpoise and one of the rarest marine mammals, is on the verge of extinction. This is the result of bycatch by illegal fishers to meet the continued demand for illegal totoaba swim bladders, that is facilitated by international criminal organizations. Scientists believe there are fewer than 13 vaquitas left. The Standing Committee will review progress made by China, Mexico and the United States of America that need to work together as range State, importing and transit countries to stop this wildlife crime that is driving the vaquita to extinction.
Combatting illegal trade in tigers and other big cats
Trade in in all big cats, except for lions, is prohibited under the Convention. However, products containing parts of big cats, such as teeth, claws and others, continue to be in demand. The Committee will consider the conservations status of the species as well as efforts to reduce demand to combat illegal trade in these products. It will also check on measures taken to prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute criminals involved in trafficking of big cats.
Progress made in tackling poaching of African elephants
There is also good news: there has been a steady decline in poaching levels since its peak in 2011, and the analysis by the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme concludes that the overall poaching trends of African elephants have now dropped for twelve consecutive years. The 2022 poaching levels are the lowest since 2003. The Committee will also consider implications of recognizing a second species of African elephant and the offer of Botswana to host a dialogue meeting for African elephant range States in early 2024.
Contributing to the broader global agenda
Taking stock of the global thrust for enhanced synergies, the Standing Committee will review the alignment between the CITES Strategic Vision 2021-2030 and the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework; cooperation with other biodiversity-related Conventions, and the policy aspects of the IPBES report on the Assessment of the Sustainable Use of Wild Species. And for the first time since the signing of the Convention in 1973, the meeting will also consider progress in the mainstreaming of gender within CITES and the launch of a CITES Global Youth Network.
Venue and streaming
Note to editors:
The CITES Secretariat can provide the contact details of experts to talk with on any of the above issues after the meeting. For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact Mr. Salehin Khan at +41 79471 66 48 or [email protected].
For media accreditation to the meeting, please follow this link and apply as soon as possible.
With 184 Parties, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) remains one of the world's most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of trade. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, health care, housing, tourist souvenirs, cosmetics or fashion.
CITES regulates international trade in over 40,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, to ensure their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.
CITES was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973 and entered into force on 1 July 1975.Learn more about CITES by visiting www.cites.org or connecting to: