Proposals to change protection levels of species under international trade at the next World Wildlife Conference available online

Updated on 12 January 2021

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not an official document.



Proposals to change protection levels of species under international trade
at the next World Wildlife Conference available online

Marine and timber species top on the agenda. International trade in African elephant, giraffe,
white rhino, saiga antelope, vicuna and many other species also to be addressed
at CITES CoP18 in May 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Geneva, 4 January 2019 – 57 proposals to amend the lists of species subject to CITES regulations were submitted by 90 countries for consideration at the next World Wildlife Conference - the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES #CoP18), to be held from 23 May to 3 June 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In addition, a record 140 documents proposing new measures and policies on international trade in wild fauna and flora were submitted for consideration by the Conference.

The proposals to amend the lists of species (i.e. the CITES Appendices) and other documents will be decided upon at the triennial meeting of the 183 Parties to CITES (i.e. 182 countries and the European Union). The proposals are now available on the CITES website in the languages and formats in which they were received. Parties have until mid-March 2019 to provide their comments on these proposals. The CITES Secretariat will also invite comments from relevant intergovernmental bodies.

“The stakes are high under CITES and robust debates are to be expected. Decisions taken in Colombo will have a real and immediate effect on the legislation, regulation, and operating practices across the globe for international trade in the species concerned. Decisions taken at CoP18 will also alter their conservation and international trade management, and have direct impacts on biodiversity, livelihoods of rural communities and national economies”, said Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero.

The 57 listing proposals cover a wide range of species, from mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects to a variety of plant species including high value rosewood species. Countries are continuing to use their Convention for ensuring that timber and marine resources are not overexploited by proposing new timber and fishery species for inclusion in the CITES Appendices. For the first time, a proposal has been submitted to include the giraffe, the world's tallest land mammal, under CITES. There is also a proposal to list the mammoth, an extinct species, in CITES Appendix II.

The three proposals on African elephants show the divergence of opinions among range States of this species on how to deal with international trade in elephant products: two aim at easing controls on international trade in African elephant products, and one at prohibiting all commercial trade.  While Namibia is proposing to downlist its population of white rhinos to Appendix II, to allow only international commercial trade in live animals and hunting trophies, the proposal from Eswatini seeks to allow unrestricted international commercial trade in all specimens of its white rhino population, which is currently included in Appendix II.

CITES is a legally binding agreement which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. It does so by monitoring, listing and regulating legal and sustainable wildlife trade and by combating illegal trade in wildlife. It currently regulates trade in over 36,000 species of wild animals and plants.

CITES determines international rules governing trade in wildlife. Governments will consider and accept, reject or adjust these proposals for amending the CITES Appendices at CoP18. Unlike most other international agreements, CITES Parties decide by vote where consensus is not possible, with a two thirds majority required.

CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero recently paid a visit to Sri Lanka, the CoP18 host country, to discuss preparations for CoP18, where she met His Excellency John A. E. Amaratunga, Minister of Wildlife, Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs.

"I was encouraged by the commitment at the highest levels of decision makers to ensure that the necessary steps will be taken in the next days so that preparations are on track for the next World Wildlife Conference – CITES CoP18. We look forward to facilitating the optimal setting for these discussions for the 183 Parties to CITES, the observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as representatives from rural communities in Colombo in 2019," added Higuero.

Other documents (known as “working documents”) as well as the Secretariat's assessment of the proposals to amend Appendices I and II, will be published on the CITES website at a later stage.

Note to editors: For more information and to arrange interviews, please contact Liu Yuan at +41 22 917 8130 or [email protected]


With 183 Parties, 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 36,000 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 or connecting to: