The first part of the closing plenary took up most of business on Thursday, with both Committee I and Committee II reconvening in one room to adopt decisions under the CoP. CITES Chair Milciades Concepción opened the plenary by thanking delegates for their productive work, done “for the good of planet Earth.” The assembled Chairs moved efficiently despite the packed schedule, ticking off pre-agreed decisions one after the other.
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In what was a surprising twist for some, and contrary to rumors, certain contentious issues that had been voted on in committees were not re-opened in plenary. Instead, a motion to re-open the debate on whether to move hippopotamus from Appendix II to Appendix I saw passionate interventions from several countries. Calls for a zero export quota to protect the few hippos left were met with arguments that, while improved conservation measures are needed, trade restrictions could have negative consequences for the conservation of the species.
Despite the volume of work that remains to be undertaken, Committee chairs seemed optimistic about the work the CoP has managed to accomplish in this iteration. “But we must remember that parties’ promises for implementation are nothing without action at home,” one warned.
Throughout the day and into the evening, side events took place on a variety of topics, including:
- Armed conflict and CITES implementation;
- Protecting tigers: a criminal justice perspective;
- Building regional capacity and synergies for CITES implementation;
- Using elemental analysis of animal keratin to determine provenance and fight illegal wildlife trade; and
- Developing the Gran Seaflower Transboundary Reserve.
All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For CITES CoP19 please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera