Launch of the CITES Virtual College

Providing creative and cost-effective capacity building for CITES

Baeza, Spain, 7 June 2011

The front page of the CITES Virtual College

The CITES Secretariat is pleased to announce the launch of the CITES Virtual College, a highly collaborative initiative amongst many CITES Parties, partners and organizations, and a first for a multilateral environmental agreement.

The launch of the CITES Virtual College took place at the International University of Andalusia (UNIA) and was attended by the CITES Management and Scientific Authorities for Spain (through respectively Ms Teresa Zapatero Martínez and Ms Marta Garcia Pérez), the Rector of the UNIA (Dr Juan Manuel Suárez Japón), the Chair of the CITES Plants Committee (Dr Margarita Clemente Muñoz), the interim Chair of the CITES Animals Committee (Mr Carlos Ibero Solana) and representatives of the CITES Secretariat.

Available in the three working languages of the Convention and composed of interactive courses, a library and a training centre, the CITES Virtual College offers Parties and the wider CITES community unparalleled access to training, educational materials and expertise. Moreover, experts on CITES-related issues will be invited to provide lectures via video and to advise students on questions related to their course work.

Strong links are also being established with academic institutions, particularly the UNIA, where the CITES Virtual College will provide students enrolled in the Master's course on Management, Access and Conservation of Species in Trade: the International Framework with a useful introduction to the fundamentals of the Convention.

Mr John E. Scanlon, the CITES Secretary-General, said: “The CITES Virtual College is a significant step forward in the creative use of new information and communication technologies. Innovations such as these significantly enhance the ability of the Secretariat to provide capacity-building activities and materials to CITES Parties and in a highly cost effective manner.”

Dr Juan Manuel Suárez Japón added that the College would “strengthen collaboration between the International University of Andalucia and the CITES Secretariat and provide a cutting-edge platform for collaboration and work. It will also better prepare students enrolled in the Master’s course to engage more quickly in substantive academic research and study.”

Dr Margarita Clemente Muñoz also stated that the College would “assist in making widely available the knowledge of experts working on topics related to the Convention and improve the ability of CITES Authorities to train new staff and to participate in meetings and other fora.”

CITES Authorities are encouraged to enroll in the courses and to make use of the training and materials available through the CITES Virtual College. Persons associated with CITES Authorities or from governments can take advantage of training support offered by the Secretariat, including participation in electronic forums, discussions via email or SKYPE, and access to experts on specific topics. The general CITES community, other multilateral environmental agreements, students and the public are also invited to make use of the College as guests.

Finally, the CITES Virtual College would not have been possible without the support of many partners. In this regard, the CITES Secretariat would like to recognize in particular the contributions of the European Commission and the UNIA.

To access the CITES Virtual College, please go to:

The Secretariat is also pleased to announce the launch of the new CITES home page which has been re-designed to facilitate searching, locating and retrieving of information. The new design makes use of the existing categories of information and provides a platform that can host and disseminate information more readily. The address of the CITES home page remains unchanged at:

The Secretariat welcomes comments on the CITES Virtual College and new CITES home page.

See also the UNEP press release.