The 77th Standing Committee (SC) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened in Geneva for the first time after the meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Panama. SC Chair Rosemarie Gnam (US) unfortunately suffered an injury requiring surgery and had to leave the gavel to her delegation colleague Naimah Aziz.
In opening the meeting, SC Chair Aziz called for robust civil discussions to support sustainable trade and outlined her intention to move forwards on the heavy agenda. CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero noted CITES is celebrating its 50th anniversary and has achieved significant milestones. She then led a minute of silence for the passing of Dr. Robert ‘Hank’ Jenkins, stressing his lifelong commitment to the Convention. Underscoring an ever-increasing workload, she called for the prioritization of critical and urgent matters.
During the morning, the proposed establishment of the CITES Global Youth Network drew the most lively comments and engagement, with delegates welcoming Singapore’s initiative, noting it contributes to the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) Target 22 (Ensure participation, justice, and rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, women, youth, persons with disabilities, and environmental defenders). Some enquired about financial implications and called for ensuring diverse representation in the network.
With funding being one of the most pressing issues for the functioning of the Convention, the Secretariat thanked several countries, as well as the Animal Welfare Institute, Safari Club International, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) for allocating additional resources.
Most of the afternoon was devoted to capacity building and compliance matters. The Secretariat pointed to work under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on a long-term strategic framework for capacity building and development to support the national implementation of the GBF.
On implementation of Article XIII on compliance, some SC members emphasized that compliance measures should be taken deliberately, soberly, and when essential, precisely identifying which specific obligations are potentially not being met. Others, pointing to limited resources, the lack of apparent non-compliance, and the need for proportionality, added that written correspondence, as opposed to in-country missions, might be sufficient to gather further information.
The Secretariat highlighted it receives significant amounts of information on potential cases of non-compliances and underscored that the cases it brings to the SC’s attention are fully substantiated and considered of highest priority.
On the sidelines, events were held, including a high-level event on how to strengthen the international legal framework to prevent and combat wildlife trafficking organized by the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, WCS, and the governments of Malawi and Peru, among others.