Farewell messages for John E. Scanlon

Updated on 28 October 2022

Today is John E. Scanlon's last day as the Secretary-General of the CITES Secretariat. After 8 years of extraordinary service, we can confidently say that John has left the Convention and its Secretariat in an extremely strong position.

We have received many messages from Parties to CITES as well as from UN and other international organizations reflecting on the contributions of John to CITES and beyond over the last 8 years.  We are pleased to share with you some of these messages.
We have also put together a selection of photos of John over the past 8 years as the CITES Secretary-General.
Staff of the CITES Secretariat, 6 April 2018


Farewell messages for John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General (2010-2018)

As you leave CITES after 8 years of amazing leadership, I am delighted to know that you will be taking on the vital position of Special Envoy for African Parks.

The protection of biological diversity is a critical element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and CITES plays a crucial role in promoting the sustainable trade in and management of these precious resources. You have led the organization impressively over the past eight years, growing not only its membership but its effectiveness on the ground. Your commitment to protecting our fragile environment is longstanding – at IUCN, UNEP and CITES – and I know we can count on your dynamic leadership going forward.

I wish you the very best in your new role and I look forward to our continued collaboration.

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

I appreciate the time, energy and expertise you have dedicated to serving as CITES Secretary-General. During your term, CITES has significantly raised the profile of illegal wildlife trafficking, particularly through collaborative partnerships with organizations such as INTERPOL and various United Nations forums under the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). Through these partnerships, the links between wildlife trafficking and other transnational crimes are better understood and significant steps taken to address this serious crime.

Australia’s CITES Management, Scientific and Enforcement Authorities have asked me to extend their gratitude for a consistently positive and productive relationship.

I wish you all the best as you take up your role as Special Envoy for African Parks.

Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia

For more than eight years, CITES, under the leadership of Mr John Scanlon, has achieved extraordinary progress and accomplishments: the considerable increase in the number of CITES Parties and national CITES implementation capacity; the formation and operation of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crimes, which plays a leading role in fighting the global illegal wildlife trade; the establishment of World Wildlife Day, which helps promote public awareness for wildlife conservation; the control of trade in key marine and timber species; and the promotion of thematic discussion and pilot demonstrations for “CITES and Livelihoods” and “Rural Community”, which have put CITES in an increasingly important position to regulate the international wildlife trade and promote sustainable development. These achievements have been made out of the concerted involvement of the international community, the industrious endeavors of the Parties, and the active organization and coordination by you and your CITES Secretariat colleagues. Your passion, devotion, wisdom and hardworking nature have won recognition and respect from far and wide. 

Zhang Jianlong, Minister, State Forestry Administration of China

Thank you John for all your achievements as Secretary General of CITES.

Your strategic approach to wildlife conservation has significantly strengthened the impact of the Convention.

You have led the way in making it a critical tool in addressing overexploitation of natural resources.

As biodiversity on our planet comes under ever greater threat, we need leaders like you.

I am sure you will be every bit as successful as a Special Envoy for African Parks.

It has been a real joy working with you.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

It was indeed a great pleasure to have worked together, particularly in the last CoP, where I was the Head of Kenyan delegation and Chair of over 30 African Elephant Coalition Parties to CITES. Through your leadership, we saw the closure of the largest legal domestic ivory markets in China and others have plans for closure. This is a cause advocated for by over 30 African elephant range states. In Kenya, this decision had led to a significant reduction in wildlife trafficking and poaching.

During your tenure, we saw recruitment of youthful, vibrant staff that practiced a more inclusive strategy with keen interest in African nations in a way that no SG previously did. You spearheaded the listing of many threatened species under CITES Appendices to enhance their protection. I do hope this will continue after your era.

I am certain your new responsibility at the African Parks will bring more synergy among managers of protected areas, to enhance the conservation and management of our natural resources.

Prof. Judi W. Wakhungu, Ambassador to France, Portugal, Serbia & Holy See, former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Kenya

Your tireless effort demonstrated in all the encounters with South Africa will always be remembered. Your departure is taking place during the most important period within the CITES schedule, when we approach the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

Your contribution during the planning and hosting of the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24 September to 5 October 2016 is truly appreciated.

The Ministerial Lekgotia which discussed the Nexus between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is of most memorable to South Africa. This took place the day before the opening of the 17th CoP to CITSE. South Africa is honoured to have had you as a Secretary-General when we hosted this important conference.

Dr Edna Molewa, MP, Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa

To learn that you will be soon completing your mandate as Secretary-General of CITES, we would like to express our heart-felt gratitude for your hard work and kind support to the convention and to Thailand on the implementation of CITES. Having met you in South Africa at CITES CoP17 and during your courtesy visit to our office in Bangkok, we were impressed by your energetic and positive personality in moving forward the difficult work in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. We also appreciate the strong leadership and direction that you have provided to CITES Secretariat and in the service of the strengthening and implementation of CITES during these eight years. Your excellent work will be memorable and the Royal Thai Government continues its strong commitment to the CITES Convention.

We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for your new posting as Special Envoy for African Parks. We wish you all the best and sincerely hope that you will have a prosperous life ever.

H.E. General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand

During my time as Foreign Secretary and more recently as Chairman of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskfore it has been an absolute pleasure to work with John.

Over the last eight years he has distinguished himself through his constant dedication to the work of CITES. He has successfully raised the profile of CITES as a whole as well as educating and informing the world of the flora and fauna that are today endangered.
On a personal level it has been a joy to work with John, who has always brought with him a ready and determined approach to his work on conservation. He is knowledgeable, persuasive, and a very effective leader.
I thank him for his great service and wish him the best of luck in his next endanvours.
The Rt Hon the Lord Hague of Richmond, the United Kingdom

We would like to thank John Scanlon for his steady and skillful leadership at the helm of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for the past eight years. He joined CITES during a surge in the illegal trade in wildlife and the recognition of wildlife trafficking as a high-value, low-risk crime involving transnational criminal networks. Under Mr. Scanlon’s leadership, CITES devised new ways to address this challenge and expanded its partnerships beyond the traditional wildlife management community to include key law enforcement organizations. Mr Scanlon was also instrumental in building the high-level political attention needed to tackle this security threat and in the process raised the profile of CITES.

We will miss his vision and leadership at CITES, but are pleased that he will continue to make a positive difference for wildlife in his future endeavors with African Parks.

Judith G. Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State

John Scanlon has demonstrated visionary leadership and personal dedication in the battle against illegal wildlife trade and poaching as Secretary-General of CITES. He was instrumental in making sure that the mass poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa was addressed not only in environmental expert circles, but is today at the highest level of the political agenda. Germany worked very closely with him in taking this issue to the United Nations General Assembly, which adopted its groundbreaking Resolution 69/314 on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife in 2015. Having realized early on that this battle could not be won by environmental institutions like CITES alone, John Scanlon has also built a strong cross-sectoral coalition between CITES and other international institutions such as INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization. We are convinced that in his next position, he will continue to be a driver for change towards a more sustainable future.

H.E. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations

Dear John, I remember when we first met in Nairobi, both fully committed to strengthen international environmental governance, not as an objective in itself, but as a tool to achieve more on the ground. By moving from UNEP headquarters in Nairobi to head and lead the CITES secretariat in Geneva, you continued your engagement for a better environment and brought it closer to the ground. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with you, to benefit from your sharp analytical and strategic thinking, to enjoy your humor, and to be stimulated by your commitment and friendship. Your answers and proposals were not only clear, clever and thoughtful, they were also honest – and this is what I appreciated most. Thank you so much – and all the best for your next steps! 
Franz Perrez, Ambassador for the Environment, Switzerland

On behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), we appreciate your leadership over eight years as the Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under your guidance, CITES has been elevated to new heights and influence in conservation efforts around the globe. It was my pleasure to make your acquaintance recently and your dedication and passion for the work of CITES as ostensible. My colleagues at the Service speak fondly of their time working with you and greatly value the shared achievements that you have reached.

You have accomplished much during your tenure: seeing the number of Parties growing from 175 to 183; combating illegal wildlife trade and giving it parity with other international crimes; building collaborative partnerships that have increased funding for CITES; bringing more timber and marine species in trade under CITES regulation; increasing the political visibility of the Convention; engaging new audiences to increase the reach of CITES including travel and tourism operators, youth and rural communities whose livelihoods depend on sustainable use of natural resources.

Gregory J. Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director, US Fish & Wildlife Service

First of all, Switzerland would like to thank John for his outstanding leadership in the years he has been working as Secretary General for the CITES Convention. With his dedication, communication skills and extremely hard work, he has been able to raise the profile of our Convention on the international level to unprecedented heights. He has also been paramount in getting necessary funding for the functioning of the Convention in the future and has led a extremely dedicated Secretariat in supporting the needs of the CITES parties. We already now know that we will miss John but nevertheless we wish him all the best for his new endeavors at African parks. Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.

Mathias Loertscher, Head of CITES Management Authority of Switzerland and Chair of CITES Animals Committee

John, I would like to congratulate you on your new assignment at African Parks. Over the past four years collaboration between CITES and UNDP has grown considerably. Under your helm, the influence and impact of the CITES Secretariat and the Convention have grown considerably over the past eight years. And thanks to the strong systems you have established in Geneva, we look forward to maintaining our species CITES-UNDP partnership, building on the close working relationships already in place between our technical teams. Although your leadership with CITES will be missed, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with you over the coming months through African Parks.

Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP)

John, my friend and colleague,

You have been a tireless and dedicated leader in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, and you will be sorely missed. With you and CITES as our partner, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has been able to achieve real results in raising awareness of the need to stop wildlife and forest crime, and in support governments to sharpen their responses.

The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime remains a signature achievement, of which we can all be proud.

I am delighted to hear that although we are losing you as CITES Secretary-General, you will continue being a prominent voice for wildlife as Special Envoy for African Parks.

I wish you every success in this new and challenging endeavour.

Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

John Scanlon is a true champion of wildlife. Under his leadership, the Convention has moved from strength to strength, galvanizing global support for protecting our endangered plant and animal species.

Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme

The death of the last male northern white rhino on the planet is a reminder of just how fast the clock is ticking down for some of our most threatened species.  For the last eight years, John has made sure that CITES got that message to the people who can do the most to prevent extinction from becoming everyday news. He has not only raised consumer awareness about the illegal trade in endangered species, he has shifted the related social, economic and security issues onto the agendas and action plans of political and industrial leaders around the world. So, while John is moving on to new adventures of his own, his work at CITES will have global impact for many years to come.

Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for the Sahel and former Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

During your tenure, the CITES Secretariat has become a strong partner to the United Nations Office at Geneva and I have greatly enjoyed our cooperation in the past years.

I would like to convey my warmest congratulations to you in your new endeavours. I am pleased that your tireless efforts towards nature conservation will continue in your new role with African Parks.

I wish you every success in your new position.

Michael Møller, Director-General of United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)

I would like to thank you for your great service over the last eight years as the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
We at the World Bank Group appreciate your leadership in raising political awareness around key conservation challenges and driving global action to combat illegal wildlife trade. You helped give CITES Parties and their many partners a strong voice to champion critical wildlife conservation and development issues. Also, we would like to thank you for serving as the Chair of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and for spearheading the efforts to get ICCWC recognized as an important mechanism to fight illegal wildlife trade globally. It was a pleasure meeting you and joining HRH The Duke of Cambridge at the World Bank headquarters in 2014 for the third Biennial Meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance. We look forward to building on the strong collaboration with the CITES Secretariat in the years to come and wish you well on your future endeavors as the Special Envoy of African Parks.
Jim Yong Kim, President, the World Bank Group

Throughout his leadership at the CITES Secretariat, Secretary General Scanlon has been steadfast in developing a strong and effective partnership with INTERPOL.

Of special note have been his efforts in actively promoting the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime on the international stage.  Part of Secretary General Scanlon’s legacy is the raised profile of law enforcement among the CITES community through Decisions which promote stronger engagement with the ICCWC partners, including INTERPOL.

Since 2010, CITES and INTERPOL have collaborated on many projects to strengthen law enforcement involvement in combating wildlife crime, including the development of the International Wildlife Forensics Network.

Secretary General Scanlon has played an important role in enhancing global efforts to protect endangered species and built a strong platform upon which we can continue our joint efforts to safeguard our environment.

Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of INTERPOL

It was a privilege to work with someone as competent and dedicated as John Scanlon, who has done much to solidify the efforts with regard to the joint objective we have to combat illegal wildlife and timber trade.

As Secretary General of CITES, John also brought important leadership to the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), and has, through the CITES Secretariat, done much in bringing the customs community to the forefront in respect of CITES enforcement.

I wish John all the best with his future endeavours and am confident that he will excel. He will carry with him the best wishes of the international customs community.

Kunio Mukyuria, Secretary General of WCO

John led by mobilizing an extraordinary range of partners to help save species. During my work as President of the World Bank, I deeply appreciated his creativity and energy in uniting the causes of development and biodiversity. He recognized that the animals around us are part of nations' natural and cultural heritage. John also has been in the forefront of working with law enforcement to raise the profile of investigations, prosecutions, and judicial actions against wildlife traffickers -- a critical part of the multi-dimensional battle to save threatened and endangered species.  John, thanks and all best with your next endeavors!

Bob Zoellick, Former President of the World Bank, US Trade Representative, and US Deputy Secretary of State

While I am contrite to learn that your tenure as Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will come to a close at the beginning of April 2018, I would like to express my warm appreciation to you for the good working relations that we have enjoyed in the past.

Through our Memorandum of Understanding, we have had a long-standing and mutually beneficial cooperation in ensuring sustainable and regulated trade of CITES-listed species. Under your capable leadership, you leave CITES in a much stronger position and thus able to face better the challenges ahead.

Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

I should like to thank you for the exemplary cooperation you have extended to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and to me personally during the period of your tenure. I further congratulate you on your highly successful leadership of the CITES Secretariat which, as you say, has seen the Organization go from strength to strength.

I am delighted to learn that you intend to continue your good work in advocacy on behalf of African Parks, and I wish you every possible success in this important endeavor.

Francis Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

ITC and CITES have had an excellent partnership under John’s leadership and we have benefited from his expertise, his passion for sustainability issues and his drive for impact for the common good. I l wish him the very best in his future endeavours.

Arancha González Laya, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC)

A tribute to John E. Scanlon from Justice Antonio H. Benjamin, Brazilian Supreme Court

John’s energy and vision made CITES a force to be reckoned with. Articulate and resolute in defending the cause of wildlife, he expected the organizations he worked with to be no less committed. It was his address to IATA’s 71st AGM that created the momentum for airlines to unanimously condemn illegal wildlife trafficking, and our partnership with CITES has grown ever since, with John an enthusiastic supporter of our work - but always urging us to go further. We wish him and CITES all the very best for the future as they each turn the page for a new chapter. But John can be assured that the airline industry’s commitment to upholding CITES’ work will be undimmed.

I am confident that a strong, continuing partnership between IATA and CITES will be an important part of his legacy and I am committed to continuing our efforts in this area.

Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of International Air Transport Association (IATA)

As you head off to pastures new, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on behalf of ATAG and its members on your successful tenure as Secretary-General of CITES.

Under your leadership, CITES’ influence has grown from strength to strength. Your passionate advocacy against illegal wildlife trade has brought significant results and I am sure that you will look back with great satisfaction on everything that CITES has achieved during your time in office.

I am proud of the close relationship between ATAG and CITES and in particular your participation at our Summits in Geneva, which helped to highlight the need for the aviation sector to play its part on this crucial issue. You will be assured of a warm welcome at our future events.

It has been an immense pleasure to work together and I wish every future success in your new career challenge with African Parks.

Michael Gill, Executive Director, Air Transport Action Group (ATAG)

I would like to thank you for the excellent cooperation we had during your time as Secretary-General of CITES, for your active participation in our activities and for your permanent support to the OIE objectives.

I commend you for the role you have already played in strengthening these links formalized by the signing of the Agreement between our two Organizations.

I am looking forward to a continued partnership with CITES and I wish you all the best in your new life.

Monique Eloit, Director General, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE)

We all owe John a great deal for everything he has done as Secretary-General of the CITES Secretariat.

Over the last eight years, John has managed to elevate the fight against illegal wildlife trade to new levels. He has helped raise the ambition of decision makers to take on innovative and concrete measures that are protecting some of the planet’s most precious and endangered species.

I am immensely grateful for John’s partnership and collaboration. During John’s tenure, IUCN - which helped establish CITES almost 45 years ago - has deepened its partnership with the Convention and today provides extensive scientific expertise to CITES Parties concerning both legal and illegal use across a range of species.

John leaves the CITES Secretariat in a very strong position as it continues with its vital mandate to safeguard the future of our natural heritage. He will go down as one of the great Secretary-Generals.

I wish him every success as he takes on his new and hugely important role as Special Envoy for African Parks.

Inger Andersen, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

John has made a phenomenal contribution to strengthening CITES and species protection, something that is difficult to do from the standpoint of one person having an impact an MEA. He has lifted the visibility of the convention at a time when biodiversity itself had slid off the political map and he has engaged new and important decisionmakers and stakeholders in the fight against illicit trade - from royals to air cargo CEOs, an unlikely group, but actors who are having profound effects on implementing the agreement, raising awareness of the imperative to act and delivering the funding required to make change. The COPs and Standing Committees have become major events on the biodiversity calendar being extremely well-attended and watched closely by the public, NGOs and governments involved.  But for those that have worked with John, this does not come as a big surprise. The level of energy, insight and raw instinct that John brought to these political global processes is unsurpassed (exhausting but exhilarating for those working for him!). We will miss him in the UN and from the governmental side for the next couple of years but like the species he protects, it is hard to change his basic nature and I know we will soon see him using his talents again on the international political scene, and hopefully in the UN, to strengthen a new area or take on yet another new challenge that he is so good at mastering. Meanwhile I wish him well and I will miss his collaborative spirit and his support to CMS that he has lent unselfishly over these last five years. As with his dedication to his work, his dedication to his friends is unyielding and I look forward to continuing our friendship in his new role as the Special Envoy for African Parks. 

Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

On behalf of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and myself, I would like to recognize John for his transformational leadership of the CITES Convention in the past eight years, and congratulate him upon successfully generating global interest and sparking grass roots actions to end illegal wildlife trade and crime.

John has demonstrated that intergovernmental and multi-lateral platforms are an effective mechanism to mobilize actions and resolve matters critical to the survival of the planet and humanity. It is therefore reassuring that he will continue to work for wildlife in his new role as Special Envoy for African Parks. We wish him continued success and look forward to collaborating with him in his new position given that African Parks manage important wetland areas.

Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

I know John is  heading off to a new adventure and I sincerely hope that we can find new ways to work together in his new role which sounds wonderful.  John is one of those rare individuals who can tell you what is on his mind without bias or rancor.  I am very grateful for all the trust and support John showed me over the years and I am very proud of the relationship that produced some real breakthroughs in reaching the youth of the world.  The Youth Forum that IFAW and the CITES Secretariat sponsored in South Africa at the last CITES COP would not have happened without John.  The result that youth from around the world learned about what CITES was and what role they could play to protect animals in unexpected ways.  John ability to serve as a convener of groups who may not always agree with one another is a legacy I will not quickly forget.  John was a force for Justice. Best of luck in the future John and look forward to seeing you soon.

Azzedine Downes, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Having watched John Scanlon working at a senior political level combatting the Illegal Wildlife Trade and possibly even more importantly, simply spending time on the ground amongst the communities of Northern Kenya sharing every day grass root conservation opportunities. I have had the very great privilege to bear witness to the extraordinary depth of knowledge, and perception possessed by John, both of which are so rare amongst senior decision makers, and influencers. I can say without hesitation, that John’s positive influence has permeated the entire spectrum of global conservation challenges, and as a result of his extraordinary stewardship, the impact of decisions made by CITES  over the past 8 years are witnessed daily amongst the planets free ranging wildlife.

Ian Craig, Director of Conservation, Lewa Conservancy

I would like to thank you for your kind message announcing your leaving from CITES.

As much as we are sad to see you leave we would like to congratulate you for taking on a new and ambitious career step.

We look back on a fruitful and successful partnership between CITES and ITTO under your leadership. And we thank you wholeheartedly for the many joint achievements.

Best wishes on behalf of all ITTO staff.

Gerhard Dieterle, Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)

John Scanlon's energy, drive and expertise willed CITES into relevance at the time the world needed the convention most, flipping the remit of regulating legal trade into a bulwark against the growing tide of illegal trade. It is doubtful that ivory, rhino horn, shark fins, pangolins, rosewood or any of the other hundreds and hundreds of endangered species and by-products would have become the talking points they are today with John's tireless efforts, and his foresight to gather the global customs, law enforcement and investigative agencies to focus on these issues was a shrewd move in a high-stakes chess match. Too many iconic species remain on the brink of extinction as we move forward in the 21st century, but too many would have already been lost had John not entered the arena when he did."

Doug Cress, Chief Executive officer, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)

John,  you have always been a wonderful partner with other organisation, including The B Team, as you tackle the disease of illegal wildlife trade. You have been committed, eloquent, active, passionate, and highly effective in your role as Secretary General. 

Congratulations on everything you have achieved.

Keith Tuffley, former CEO of The B Team

In an age when increasing development challenges the very idea of "free roaming" wildlife, especially for threatened and endangered species, John was someone who made a difference. He believed the Convention (CITES) could be a critical tool in global efforts not just to monitor trade concerns, but also to find the balance between conservation and sustainable development. He brought his legal experience to bear on governments but he also understood the importance of communicating the value of wildlife to the broader public.

John was a leader in working with the tourism industry to integrate sustainable practices into a triple bottom line of environmental, economic and social responsibility.  Whenever I met with John he always had a good sense of vision and realism and how the two should meet. I was also grateful for his guidance and supportive to make the travel and tourism industry a force for protecting wildlife.

Geoffrey Kent, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Abercrombie & Kent

A few words of thanks as you move on to your next challenge.

First, when you came to the CITES, you were in the right place at the right time. You realised several things: the scourge of wildlife crime ; the challenge of increased exploitation; and the popular counterpoint of proponents of near-zero resource use. Difficult positions to reconcile, to say the least...

Second, you saw the planet was in crisis from illegal use and you set up the ICCWC. I hope you will see that partnership as your legacy. You really went beyond the norms with this.

Third, you have been dedicated. Your staff have told me over the years of their respect for you (all managers should be so lucky). You have Skyped panel discussions (with me) in the middle of the night Geneva time (in jacket and tie, nonetheless!). I was in the SC room a few years ago when you said to your bosses that the CITES mandate was paramount over your UN role (we should all have such guts).

Sheldon Jordan, Director General, Wildlife Enforcement, Environment Canada, former chair of the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group

Working with you and the amazing team you have convened to co-create the 2016 International Elephant Film Festival was a visionary notion that had substantial impact in raising on-the-ground awareness in both range and consumer countries of the world’s wildlife to the true crisis faced by them as a result of the black market ivory trade. The Festival amplified the important work being done by conservation stakeholders and by the media makers and distributors bringing these important stories to the world. This year’s Big Cats Film Festival will have a similar reach and impact.

Thank you, John. You made this possible from start to end, and your passion and commitment toward protecting wild landscapes and creatures, while working within a complicated international commercial and political environment, is evident in all you do.

It has been an honor to work with you, and I wish you well as you continue your work to help make a sustainable and equitable world. I look forward to future collaborations. In the meantime, know you have my sincere gratitude and all best wishes for the future.

Lisa Samford, Executive Director, Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

Please join me in thanking John for his commitment and enormous support as the Co-chair of one of the most challenging but visibly successful initiatives, in terms of demonstrating cooperation and synergy between UN Environment and MEAs, in UN Environment in recent times - United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (InforMEA).
I, for one, have greatly appreciated his counsel and his friendship, through the many years we have known each other, and I am sure many of you feel the same way. I am grateful for the support he has given, over the years, to the InforMEA team in Geneva, which has ranged from strategic advice on the advancement of the initiative to the ground day-to-day support in availing support for procurement, meeting facilities, and other activities solely needed by the small team.
Additionally, I would like to acknowledge the years of cooperation between the Law Division of Un Environment and the CITES Secretariat on campaigns and projects such as the Wild for Life Campaign, the African Elephant Fund, the MIKE project, just to mention a few. We have come together severally to support the CITE’s parties in the development and review of national laws implementing the Convention. John’s active support and engagement with, and his leadership in the coherent cooperation with all biodiversity MEAs, especially through our synergies among biodiversity MEAs, including harmonized implementation of biodiversity MEAs, cannot go without mention.
Let us wish him the very best as he moves on to the next phase of his journey and assure him that though he is leaving big shoes to fill, the legacy that he leaves behind will be evidenced by the continued growth of the initiative towards the vision that we collectively share.
Elizabeth Mrema, Director, Law Division, UN Environment (UNEP)

On behalf of the entire team at Youth for Wildlife Conservation (Y4WC), we would like to thank you for your support towards our organization, as well as towards the engagement of youth in general. As you know, the Youth Forum for People and Wildlife held in Johannesburg in September 2016 was the catalyst to Y4WC, and the enthusiasm we received from yourself and many others intensified our motivation to establish a platform and network for early-career conservationists interested in wildlife trade issues.

Your encouragement has been crucial during the formation of our organization, and it has been a real honour and pleasure to work along the CITES Secretariat on youth engagement and action, under your leadership. We particularly enjoyed participating in the World Wildlife Day celebrations over the past two years and building on this will continue to bring youth voices into the spotlight on March the 3rd for the years to come.

Whilst, we look forward to working more closely with the CITES Secretariat in the future, you have set the foundations to make this possible. We wish you all the best in your endeavours with African Parks.

Josephine Crouch and Cécile Tang,  Co-Directors of Youth for Wildlife Conservation (Y4WC)