CITES and CMS Secretariats hold first virtual meeting to map out future collaboration

The Secretariats of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) met via video conference between Bonn, Geneva and Nairobi on 2 March 2011 to review joint achievements to date and to map out their future collaboration.  This was the first virtual meeting of the staff of the two secretariats; video conferencing being used to reduce the costs and the carbon footprint of the meeting. 

The Secretariats addressed substantive issues dealing with: individual species; harmonization of listings on the appendices and nomenclature; preparation for forthcoming meetings of the governing bodies; and strategic issues related to biodiversity, sustainable development, and the interrelationship with other entities and processes.

The issues addressed were both substantive and administrative, including how the Secretariats can collaborate with one another during times of high workload, such as sharing additional ICT support and offering mutual staff support before and during meetings of the governing bodies, in order to minimize the financial impact on Parties to both Conventions; share best practices/experience, and enhance their efficiency. 

The Secretariats mapped out areas of work where the activities under each Convention complement, or reinforce, one another, and can benefit from national coherence and regional cooperation.  These include activities related to the conservation and/or use of African elephants, sharks, saiga antelopes and gorillas.  The Secretariats recognize the distinct contribution of each Convention as well as areas of mutual interest.  Specific ways of further addressing discrepancies between the lists of species covered by each Convention, as well as harmonizing the nomenclature used, were also addressed.

The Secretariats of CITES and CMS also agreed to coordinate their work to support their Parties to contribute towards the revision and updating of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, as appropriate, under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the possible linkages to Global Environment Facility funding, as well as to support the work of the Biodiversity Liaison Group and the Environment Management Group. 

Finally, the CITES and CMS Secretariats agreed to present a revised list of joint activities to the 61st meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (Geneva, Switzerland, August 2011), and the 38th meeting of the CMS Standing Committee and CMS CoP10 (Bergen, Norway, November 2011), as well as to identify areas of mutual strategic interest to the Parties and their Secretariats, such as those referred to above. 

“We are determined to enhance the effectiveness of our Secretariats in line with our respective mandates, and to focus our efforts on how we can better assist countries to implement their commitments at the national level.  Our collective efforts are a further step towards achieving these related objectives” said Secretary-General of CITES, John Scanlon and Executive Secretary of CMS, Elizabeth Mrema, who co-chaired the meeting. 


CITES and CMS were adopted in response to recommendations of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment and they are two of the first wave of global multilateral environmental agreements concluded in the 1970s (CITES 1973, CMS 1979).  Both conventions contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and in particular of the wildlife species covered by each Convention.