On Friday, CITES Standing Committee Chair Carolina Caceres (Canada) resumed the online meeting, stressing the aim to enable everyone to be heard. CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero introduced the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of the Convention, including on national CITES authorities, governing bodies and scientific advisory committees of CITES and the CITES Secretariat.
Israel drew attention to the World Health Organization, World Organisation for Animal Health, and UN Environment Programme guidelines on reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals of mammalian species in traditional food markets and suggested more immediate action through CITES links to law enforcement bodies.
Secretary-General Higuero also introduced a risk analysis for future meetings of the Standing Committee with three different scenarios for the 74th meeting: hold a face-to-face meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in September 2021; invite a party to host the meeting or seek alternative facilities in Switzerland in late 2021 or early 2022; or hold the meeting in an online format in early 2022. Chair Caceres underscored the challenges of the online format for an expected heavy agenda.
During the remainder of the meeting SC73 participants addressed:
- tortoises and freshwater turtles, agreeing to recommendations directed to the Secretariat, Madagascar, parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations implementing programmes in Madagascar;
- progress made by the Working Group on Purpose codes on CITES permits and certificates; and
- draft guidance on the use of the scientific exchange exemption and the simplified procedures to issue permits and certificates.
Due to time constraints, SC73 was not able to consider all agenda items. Chair Caceres proposed and everyone agreed:
- the intersessional working group on stocks and stockpiles (elephant ivory), chaired by the EU, would continue to work and report back to SC74;
- the Secretariat would post the draft terms of reference and modus operandi for the Big Cats Task Force on the CITES website and provide an intersessional review with an updated document to be considered by the SC at a future point;
- the working group on annotations to the CITES Appendices would report to SC74; and
- the agenda item on the guidance for the publication of the Appendices would be deferred to SC74.
SC Chair Caceres thanked all participants and gaveled the meeting to a close at 3:50 pm CET (GMT+2).