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Photos and RealAudio of 9 April

9 April:

The eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP-11) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) began today at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and will continue through Thursday, 20 April 2000. COP-11 will consider 61 agenda items including: a strategic plan for the Convention through 2005; 62 proposals to amend Appendices I and II species; and various trade control and conservation issues concerning specific species.

Note: a brief history of CITES is available in the ENB's curtain-raiser issue of Monday, 10 April.

Prior to the opening of CITES-11, delegates, guests and staff gathered in the Memorial Garden for a "Moment of Reflection". Attendees heard traditional Kenyan songs, speeches from representatives of youth groups and civil society, and prayers from different religious groups.
CITES-11 participants gathered in the garden under the motto "may peace prevail on Earth". Tore Brevik, Director of UNEP Communications and Public Information, was the Master of Ceremonies.
Shafqat Kakakhel, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, speaking on behalf of Dr. Klaus Töpfer, highlighted the three themes of the gathering: peace, dialogue and tolerance.
At the conclusion of the event, butterflies were released to symbolize the three themes.
Official Opening Ceremony
It was standing-room-only as participants scrambled for seats.

Willem Wijnstekers, CITES Secretary-General, noted the need for applied synergy with other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), particularly biodiversity-related MEAs, in order to strengthen the Convention's capacity and success. He highlighted the importance of the proposed Strategic Vision through 2005 as a means to ensure that no animal or plant becomes subject to unsustainable exploitation because of international trade. He called for attention to all proposals for amendments, not just the high profile discussions on elephants, whales, sharks and sea turtles.

Robert Hepworth (UK), Chair of the CITES Standing Committee, remarked that approximately 6 billion human beings are dependent on wildlife for food, fuel, medicine and their livelihoods, but refuted the perceived conflict in meeting both human and wildlife needs. He attributed CITES success to its practical concept of regulating or prohibiting trade, its ability to evolve, and the hard work of governments in implementing the agreement.

RealAudio of Mr. Hepworth address

Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, called for comprehensive consideration of all species proposed for amendments in Appendix I, and urged the COP to focus on, inter alia: reduction of illegal trade; enhanced public support and participation; improved financial and administrative basis; conservation through biodiversity; development processes; and protection of property rights. He recalled that causes of biodiversity loss, such as poverty and debt, are common knowledge and suggested that a new form of solidarity be created to protect the global commons. Quoting Einstein, he concluded by stating that "yesterday's problems cannot be solved with yesterday's thinking".

Tore Brevik presided over the opening ceremony.

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