The 19th meeting of the Plants Committee (PC 19) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 18-21 April 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland. PC 19 discussed fourteen substantive items, including: strategic planning; cooperation with the advisory bodies of other biodiversity-related conventions; capacity building; non-detriment findings; annotations; the Review of Significant Trade in Appendix II species; the periodic review of plant species included in the Appendices; amendments to the Appendices; and timber issues.
Nearly 130 participants attended the meeting, including representatives of parties, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and industry. At its first meeting since the most recent Conference of the Parties (CoP), the Committee successfully laid out the groundwork to respond to the multiple mandates received from the Conference. PC 19 adopted the recommendations on the PC work-plan, non-detriment findings, the periodic review and amendments to the Appendices, the Review of Significant Trade, orchids annotations, Madagascar, and Agarwood-producing taxa; and established seven intersessional working groups, including on non-detriment findings, the periodic review, annotations and climate change. Discussions on annotations, which prominently involved industry and civil society, proved more difficult and resulted in the PC taking note, rather than adopting, certain recommendations. This contributed to an overall reflection, which will probably mark the rest of the intersessional period, as to how the CITES science-based decision-making processes can best facilitate the Convention’s effective implementation.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CITES
CITES was established as a response to growing concerns that over-exploitation of wildlife through international trade was contributing to the rapid decline of many species of plants and animals around the world. The Convention was signed in Washington, DC, on 3 March 1973, and entered into force on 1 July 1975. There are currently 175 parties.
The aim of CITES is to ensure that international trade of wild animal and plant species does not threaten their survival. CITES parties regulate wildlife trade through controls and regulations on species listed in three Appendices. Appendix I lists species endangered due to international trade, permitting such trade only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II species are those that may become endangered if their trade is not regulated, thus requiring controls aimed at preventing unsustainable use, maintaining ecosystems and preventing species from entering Appendix I. Appendix III species are those subject to domestic regulation by a party requesting the cooperation of other parties to control international trade in that species. In order to list a species in Appendix I or II, a party must submit a proposal for approval by the Conference of the Parties (CoP), supported by scientific and technical data on population and trade trends. The proposal must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of parties present and voting. As the trade impact on a species increases or decreases, the CoP decides whether or not it should be transferred or removed from the Appendices.
There are approximately 5,000 fauna species and 29,000 flora species protected under the three CITES Appendices. Parties regulate the international trade of CITES species through a system of permits and certificates that are required before specimens are imported, exported or introduced from the sea. Each party is required to adopt national legislation and to designate two national authorities, namely, a Management Authority responsible for issuing permits and certificates based on the advice of the second national body, the Scientific Authority. These national authorities also assist with CITES enforcement through cooperation with customs, police and other appropriate agencies. Parties maintain trade records that are forwarded annually to the CITES Secretariat, thus enabling the compilation of statistical information on the global volume of international trade in appendix-listed species. The operational bodies of CITES include the Standing Committee (SC) and two scientific committees: the Plants Committee (PC) and the Animals Committee (AC).
CONFERENCES OF THE PARTIES: The first CoP was held in Bern, Switzerland, in November 1976, and subsequent CoPs have been held every two to three years. The COP meets to, inter alia: review progress in the conservation of species included in the Appendices; discuss and adopt proposals to amend the lists of species in Appendices I and II; consider recommendations and proposals from parties, the Secretariat, the SC and the scientific committees; and recommend measures to improve the effectiveness of the Convention and the functioning of the Secretariat. The CoP also periodically reviews the list of resolutions and decisions, as well as the species listed in the Appendices.
CITES COP14: CoP14 convened from 3-15 June 2007, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The meeting considered 70 agenda items and 37 proposals to amend the Appendices. CoP14 adopted resolutions and decisions directed to parties, the Secretariat and Convention’s committees, on a wide range of topics including: the CITES Strategic Vision 2008-2013; a guide to compliance with the Convention; management of annual export quotas; and species trade and conservation issues. Species listings included the addition of Brazil wood in Appendix II.
PC 17: PC 17 convened from 15-19 April 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss, inter alia: the Review of Significant Trade (RST) in Appendix II species; the periodic review of plant species included in the Appendices; timber issues; strategic planning; non-detriment findings (NDFs); transport of live plants; and the definitions of hybrids and cultivars under the Convention.
PC 17/AC 23 JOINT SESSION: The joint session of the PC and AC convened on 19 April 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. The PC/AC addressed issues of common interest to both committees, including: the revision of the terms of reference of the scientific committees; cooperation with advisory bodies of other biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements; the RST in specimens of Appendix II species; an international expert workshop on NDFs; and transport of live animals and plants.
PC 18: PC 18 convened from 17-21 March 2009, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, issuing recommendations on, inter alia: bigleaf mahogany; cedar and rosewood; orchid annotations; periodic review of the Appendices; and the RST.
COP15: CoP15 convened from 13-25 March 2010, in Doha, Qatar, to consider 68 agenda items and 42 proposals to amend the Appendices. The meeting listed, among others, rosewood, holywood and several Madagascar plant species in Appendix II. The CoP also made progress on numerous implementation and enforcement issues, including source codes, permits and certification, and electronic permitting. It also mandated the scientific committees to prepare draft guidance on NDFs.
PC 19 REPORT
On Monday, 18 April 2011, CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon opened the meeting, noting the record number of participants. He emphasized relationships with other conventions and processes; the relevance of the International Year of Forests to the Convention’s work on timber; and the increasing use of Appendix III by parties. He cautioned against overly complex annotations, calling on PC experts to be mindful of the non-specialists that are ultimately responsible for implementing the Convention.
The Committee elected by acclamation Margarita Clemente (Spain) as PC 19 Chair, and Hesiquio Benitez (Mexico) as Vice-Chair. Chair Clemente drew the Committee’s attention to, inter alia: NDFs, annotations and the periodic review, remarking that the de-listing of species represents a success in implementing the Convention. The Committee adopted the rules of procedure (PC19 Doc.3) and the agenda (PC19 Doc.4.1 (Rev. 1)) without amendments; and the working programme (PC19 Doc.4.2 (Rev. 2)) with minor amendments. The Committee agreed to admit all the observers that had requested and received an invitation to attend the meeting (PC19 Doc.5). This report summarizes discussions on each of the items on the agenda of PC 19.
On Wednesday, regional representatives presented their respective reports to plenary (PC19 Doc.6.1-6). Chair Clemente drew attention to the increasing number of reporting requirements established by the CITES bodies. Standing Committee Chair Øystein Størkersen (Norway) noted the issue could be addressed at the next SC meeting.
On Monday, Chair Clemente introduced documents on the resolutions and decisions directed to the PC (PC19 Doc.7.1) and on the establishment of the PC work-plan (PC19 Doc.7.2). The Committee took note of the former and decided to establish a working group on the latter mandated to examine all instructions to the PC, discuss their inclusion in the PC work-plan for 2011-2013, and identify priorities. The working group met on Tuesday. On Thursday, Chair Clemente presented to plenary the outcome of the working group’s deliberations, drawing attention to the large number of items categorized as high priority in the PC work-plan. The PC endorsed the recommendations with minor amendments.
Recommendation: The PC outlined planning for 2010-2013 (PC19 WG01 Doc.1), including as high priority: criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II; the identification manual; standard nomenclature; CITES-International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) cooperation on trade in tropical timber; the RST; the periodic review; climate change; annotations; Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); Madagascar; and NDFs.
COOPERATION WITH OTHER CONVENTIONS
BIODIVERSITY INDICATORS PARTNERSHIP:On Wednesday, the Secretariat orally reported on CITES participation in the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (PC19 Inf.1), noting that the Partnership’s second phase is under discussion. He also drew the Committee’s attention to the adoption by CBD COP 10 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the establishment of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on indicators to which the Ramsar Convention will represent all other biodiversity-related conventions. The PC took note of the Secretariat’s oral report.
IPBES:On Wednesday, Chair Clemente introduced the document on IPBES (PC19 Doc. 8.2(Rev.1)), reporting on the Scientific Committees Chairs’ participation in the third ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an IPBES (7-11 June 2010, Busan, Republic of Korea). She stressed the importance of ensuring the participation of the CITES legal officer in the first plenary meeting of IPBES to contribute to discussions on its legal and institutional set-up and the definition of its linkages with biodiversity-related conventions. The North America representative emphasized the need to define the role of CITES as a beneficiary of IPBES, and to review the scientific committees’ mandate to allow their interactions with IPBES. Bolivia supported IPBES providing advice on areas of common interest among biodiversity-related conventions, cautioning against a possible focus of IPBES on payments for ecosystem services and market-based mechanisms.
CITES Secretary-General Scanlon reported on ongoing collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the other biodiversity-related conventions on the definition of the content and modalities of the relationships between IPBES and other conventions’ scientific bodies. He assured delegates of the close attention paid by the Secretariat to the legal and policy implications of the establishment of IPBES, recalling the Secretariat’s dependence on external funding for direct participation in relevant meetings and that the Ramsar Convention represents all biodiversity-related conventions in the IPBES discussions. The PC took note of the document.
CLIMATE CHANGE:On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (PC19 Doc.8.3.1 and its Annex 1), noting that discussions on climate change under CITES have only recently started. The US introduced a proposal jointly submitted with Canada (PC19 Doc. 8.3.2) and supported by Mexico to focus discussions on climate change impacts on specific science-based decision-making processes under CITES. Mexico clarified that these processes are NDFs, the RST and the periodic review. The Africa representative proposed including also the criteria for CITES listing, and emphasized existing impacts of climate change on trade in invasive species.
The PC established an intersessional working group to: identify scientific aspects of the CITES text and CoP resolutions that are actually or potentially affected by climate change; focus on criteria for species listing, NDFs, the periodic review, the RST, quotas, and trade in invasive alien species; and submit its findings to the joint meeting of the scientific committees with a view to a joint submission to SC 62 in 2012. The PC appointed the US as co-chair of the intersessional working group, noting that the other co-chair will be nominated by AC 25.
GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR PLANT CONSERVATION:On Thursday, Vice-Chair Benitez introduced the document on the GSPC (PC19 Doc.8.4). The PC adopted a recommendation to analyze and adopt the revised list of CITES activities and products and their potential contribution to the objectives and targets of the consolidated update of the GSPC 2011-2020. On the revised objectives, mechanisms and methodologies to facilitate cooperation between CITES and the consolidated update of the GSPC 2011-2020, the PC noted that funding required for actions outlined should be pointed out in a draft resolution for CoP16 to be discussed by PC 20. The Committee tasked an intersessional working group chaired by PC Vice-Chair Benitez to draft such a resolution.
On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document on the capacity-building programme for science-based establishment and implementation of voluntary national export quotas for Appendix II species (PC19 Doc.9), noting its focus on NDFs. Germany and the North America representative proposed holding a side-event on CITES capacity-building and training materials at the next scientific committees’ meeting. The PC established an intersessional working group, to be chaired by Madeleine Groves (UK) and another co-chair to be nominated by the AC, to discuss input from scientific committees to the Secretariat on the materials that may be used in capacity-building work relating to voluntary national export quotas for Appendix II and making NDFs.
On Monday, Chair Clemente reminded participants of the importance of NDFs for sustainability and CITES implementation, noting that if NDFs are well performed there would be no need for the RST. She presented, and the PC took note of, a document on implementation of Decision 15.23 on NDFs and overview and links with other relevant CoP15 decisions (PC19 Doc.10.1) and on progress reports from parties (PC19 Doc.10.2 (Rev.1)).
GUIDELINES: On Monday, plenary took up a proposal for the implementation of Decision 15.24 relating to outputs of NDF workshops such as International Expert Workshop on Non-detriment Findings (Cancun, Mexico, November 2008) (PC19 Doc.10.3). Chair Clemente recalled previous discussions on the need for non-legally binding general guidelines on NDFs to assist countries of origin, noting the importance of ensuring flexibility for adapting guidance appropriate to the capacities and specificities of individual countries. She requested the PC consider whether the draft resolution produced by PC 18 could still be used as a basis for continuing deliberations, for possible resubmission to the COP, or whether a new working document was needed with options on how to use the outputs of the International Expert Workshop on NDFs, including, if appropriate, a draft resolution on the establishment of non-legally binding guidelines for the making of NDFs.
Mexico emphasized the need to submit to CoP16 a draft resolution adopted by both the PC and the AC, and the need to be creative about NDFs. The North America representative suggested setting up an intersessional working group including representatives of both scientific committees, with representatives from each region from each committee. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) asked for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to be involved in the work on NDFs guidelines.
The Committee established a working group, under the chairmanship of Chair Clemente and the Interim AC Chair Carlos Ibero Solana (Spain), to: consider whether a further meeting document on NDFs should be prepared or whether the PC 18 draft resolution should be submitted again to CoP16; and consider the mandate of an intersessional working group with the AC.
On Tuesday, the working group discussed how to review and use the feedback received from parties to assist scientific authorities in making NDFs, focusing on: encouraging parties to share information; improving the CITES webpage on NDFs; and producing a summary of parties’ responses pointing to needs and benefits emerging from making NDFs, without naming specific countries.
On taking forward the discussions on guidelines on NDFs, the working group addressed the need for: adopting a resolution at CoP16; ensuring the AC’s ownership of the draft resolution; dispelling concerns about increased scrutiny on countries that are not able to follow the guidelines, even if they are not binding; and maintaining flexibility to recognize a variety of methodologies for making NDFs. The working group then discussed: the mandate for a joint AC/PC intersessional working group to draft the guidelines; a list of reasons for a resolution on NDFs; and the inclusion of NGOs and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) representatives in the joint intersessional working group.
On Thursday, Chair Clemente presented to plenary the outcome of the working group on NDFs. The Central and South America and the Caribbean representative raised the question of funding regional NDF workshops, with the Secretariat recalling that CoP15 had mandated it to seek external funding to that end. Chair Clemente appealed to potential donors to prioritize NDFs for both the PC and the AC. The PC adopted the recommendations on NDFs for submission to the AC.
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG03 Doc.1), inter alia, to:
• establish a joint AC/PC intersessional working group, after AC 25, to: produce a summary of experiences and lessons learned by the parties, without identifying individual responses; prepare a discussion paper on NDFs; and draft non-legally binding guidelines on NDFs, for submission to the AC and PC;
• make a recommendation to the Secretariat to make the section on NDFs in the CITES website more prominent and comprehensive; and
• agree that a resolution on NDFs is warranted because: NDFs are an essential requirement for CITES implementation, a continuous challenge for the Scientific Authorities of exporting and importing countries, and a valuable tool to help parties effectively and sustainably manage and trade their wild resources; parties need support and guidance in making NDFs; and a diversity of NDF methodologies exist.
TIMBER SPECIES: Chair Clemente orally reported on progress on timber species, medicinal plants and Agarwood-producing species, drawing attention to a suggestion from China at CoP15 to make more user-friendly the guidelines on NDFs for timber species, medicinal plants and Agarwood-producing species, using a handbook format. The Africa representative and India supported developing such a handbook. The Committee established an intersessional working group, to be chaired by the Asia representative and acting representative, on the production of such a handbook, drawing on the outcomes of national workshops.
GEOPHYTES: On Wednesday, the UK introduced the document on addressing the challenges of making NDFs for geophytes (PC19 Doc.10.5), pointing to: the outcomes of a project carried out by Georgia and the UK; the emerging issue of exports of artificially propagated bulbs from Georgia; and the need for guidance on applying the definition of “artificial propagation” to bulbs. The PC took note of the document, requesting parties to provide feedback on the results of the project.
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: On Monday, plenary started discussing annotations. The Secretariat introduced an overview document (PC19 Doc.11.1), noting the: increasing number and complexity of annotations; inconsistency among annotations in providing for inclusion or exclusion; enforcement difficulties; use of undefined terms; and possibility to focus on wild, rather than artificially-propagated, specimens. Emphasizing the legal relevance of annotations, the Secretariat proposed involving the SC in these discussions, suggesting that the PC consider the role of all CITES bodies in discussing annotations.
PC Chair Clemente proposed involving lawyers and the SC Chair in discussions on annotations. Representatives of Europe, Oceania, North America and the European Union (EU) agreed but cautioned against duplication of work on annotations under the SC.
The Secretariat pointed to the proposal from North America on development and application of annotations to the listings of plant taxa in the Appendices (PC19 Doc.11.6), noting that this proposal considers the same general issues addressed by the Secretariat in Doc.11.1, but puts forward different suggestions. PC Chair Clemente observed that the proposal from North America exceeds the PC 19 mandate, cautioning against preparing submissions to CoP16 that were not requested by CoP15. The Secretariat reiterated the importance of holding discussions on annotations under the SC, as the SC has the power to address new issues, thus allowing for broader discussions beyond the PC’s mandate.
In light of the strategic nature of the general issues related to annotations but also of the technical tasks mandated by CoP15 to PC 19, Chair Clemente proposed establishing an intersessional working group, including the AC and SC chairs and the CITES legal officer, to take into account the outcomes of PC 19 on technical issues on annotations, as well as the general issues as proposed by North America as contained in document 11.6. On Thursday, Chair Clemente clarified that an intersessional working group on annotations, chaired by Vice-Chair Benitez, will address these and any other outstanding issues related to annotations emerging from PC 19.
CLARIFICATION OF TERMS:On Monday, the North America representative presented on the preparation of clarification and guidance on the meaning of “packaged and ready for retail trade” and other terms used in the annotations (PC19 Doc.11.2). The Committee took note of Annexes 1 (Existing plant-related annotations included in the Appendices and purposes) and 2 (Terms used in plant-related annotations in Appendix II that already have a definition in the CITES Glossary). The Committee then established a working group chaired by PC Vice-Chair Benitez with the mandate to review the definitions outlined in Annex 3 (Terms included in plant-related annotations to the Appendices and definitions gathered), in particular for “packaged and ready for retail trade” to consider: if they are sufficiently clear to allow effective implementation of the Convention; indicate which definitions should be included in the CITES Glossary as they currently stand; determine which definitions may need further revision and amendment; and propose definitions for: “cut flower” (Annotations #1 and #4), “parts of root” (#3), “pulp” (#13) and “copra” (#13).
On Tuesday, the working group considered, and developed working definitions for, a number of undefined terms that are used in annotations, such as “essential oil,” “extract,” “finished product, packaged and ready for retail,” “powder” and “root.” The working group recommended to also include other terms in the CITES Glossary as they are, or ask for revised definitions.
On Thursday, Vice-Chair Benitez presented to plenary the working group’s consensus recommendations, reporting that the group developed definitions for five terms, while two terms remained to be defined intersessionally, enquiring whether it would be possible to include the five definitions in the CITES Glossary without adoption by the CoP. Chair Clemente and the Secretariat, supported by Germany, expressed concern about the implications for legal certainty. The Oceania representative, supported by the US, the IWMC-World Conservation Trust and AHPA, proposed that the definitions be nonetheless considered working definitions by PC 19 to quell enforcement challenges, with the US proposing that the Secretariat issue a notification providing additional guidance to parties, based on the definitions elaborated by the working group. The Africa representative, supported by Brazil and Chile, proposed informing the SC of the issue.
France, supported by the EU, noted that the definition of “finished products, packaged and ready for retail” failed to address challenges related to large shipments of such products. The Africa representative raised concerns about the definition of “powder,” arguing that it refers to the term “coarse” inappropriately.
Chair Clemente proposed, and the Committee agreed, that the PC take note of, rather than adopt, the recommendations from the working group, requesting the intersessional working group on annotations to consider the points raised by France and the Africa representative. She also proposed that the Secretariat consider, possibly in consultation with the SC, ways to provide guidance to parties on the interim definitions developed by the working group.
The draft recommendation (PC19 WG04 Doc.1) includes the following definitions:
• “essential oil”: a hydrophobic liquid or semi-liquid that is predominately clear, and often has a strong odor, which is obtained from raw plant material by methods such as any kind of distillation, or a mechanical process;
• “extract”: products spontaneously exuded from plants, or obtained from plants by cutting or incision, or by treatment with solvents;
• “finished product packaged and ready for retail trade”: products requiring no further processing, packaged, labeled and ready for retail trade, in a state fit for being sold to or used by the general public;
• “powder (and powdered)”: a dry, solid substance in the form of fine or coarse particles;
• “root”: the underground organ or part of a plant, including primary and secondary roots, and underground stems such as bulbs, rhizomes, corms, caudices, and tubers.
According to the draft recommendation, the PC notes, inter alia, that:
• certain terms (endosperm, fruit, in vitro, naturalized, pollen, pollinia, rhizome, seedling or tissue culture, seed, seedpod, spore, sterile container, and underground part) do not present a problem in implementation of annotations and therefore do not require specific definitions;
• definitions for “essential oil” and “extract” should be used as working definitions for the purposes of implementing tree species-related Annotations #11 and #12;
• the five agreed definitions be included in the CITES Glossary, noting that clarification is needed on the legal status of the glossary and the process of including terms in it;
• terms such as “wood-chips” and “parts of root” require further work; and
• there is no need to define “cut flower,” “pulp” and “copra.”
CACTACEAE AND ORCHIDACEAE:PC Vice-Chair Benitez presented the review of annotations for Cactaceae and Orchidaceae (PC19 Doc.11.3). The Committee identified parties and observers willing to contribute to a web survey of the international trade in orchid products for consideration at PC 20. Participants debated whether to conduct web surveys for other groups or focus solely on orchids, with Chair Clemente suggesting the PC should not preclude this. Delegates agreed to focus initially on orchids, and to note that other groups would be considered should the opportunity arise.
ORCHIDS: On Monday, the Europe representative introduced the document on annotations for orchid species included in Appendix II (PC19 Doc.11.4). Brazil, supported by Mexico, opposed exempting all hybrid orchids. Brazil, supported by the Central and South America and the Caribbean representative, also supported the development of an identification manual for hybrids. Chair Clemente noted the need for external funding for the PC to work on the manual. The Committee established a working group to consider: monitoring the commercial hybrid orchid trade trend (for genus); suggesting guidelines for the simplification of the annotations; producing an identification manual; and verifying which parties are still requiring CITES permits for taxa that could benefit from the annotation. Chair Clemente encouraged considering deletion of the annotation.
On Wednesday, the Europe representative reported to plenary on the working group’s consensus recommendations for the annotation related to hybrid orchids included in Appendix II, stating the annotation is used by both importing and exporting countries and should be left as is, with no additional exemptions. Australia, supported by the Oceania representative, expressed disappointment that the annotation had not been simplified. The Oceania representative questioned the decision not to expand the exclusion to other hybrid orchids, noting that this was in contradiction with the finding that the annotation is working. The Europe representative explained that the recommendation not to expand the exception was based on input received from range states and importing countries. Austria, supported by the North America and Oceania representatives, suggested clarifying that this recommendation is “for the time being.” The Europe representative noted lack of conservation issues at stake. The North America representative highlighted conservation issues needed monitoring over time. The PC eventually adopted all the recommendations, clarifying that the recommendation not to expand the exclusion to other hybrid orchids is “for the time being.”
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG05 Doc.1) that, inter alia:
• no further exemption of hybrid orchids be taken into consideration for the time being;
• no modification to the annotation be made;
• importing and exporting parties train inspection officers and share experience on using and implementing the annotation;
• Thailand’s hybrids ID manual be published on the CITES website; and
• importing parties exchange experiences in implementing the annotation with those parties still requiring CITES permits for taxa that could benefit from the annotation and are not doing so because of the lack of capacity to identify the hybrids.
TREE SPECIES:Canada introduced the document on annotations for tree species included in Appendices II and III (PC19 Doc.11.5), noting that PC 19 may consider general issues about simplification, while a trade study will be prepared for consideration at PC 20. The US expressed willingness to fund the study, favoring postponing discussions until PC 20.
The Committee established a working group, chaired by Kenneth Farr (Canada), mandated to, inter alia: consider addressing the increasing number of Appendix II and III tree annotations that reference non-fiber wood products, including essential oils and extracts; and assess the need to amend current annotations related to tree species.
On Thursday, Farr presented the working group’s recommendations to plenary, noting the relevance of the definitions of “essential oil,” “extract” and “powder” elaborated by the other working group. The PC took note of the recommendations, highlighting that discussions will continue in the intersessional working group on annotations.
In the draft recommendation (PC19 WG06 Doc.1), the PC notes that, among other issues:
• consideration should be given to drafting annotations that clearly differentiate between timber products and medicinal products derived from species that can be used for both purposes;
• an increasing number of components of Appendices II and III tree annotations referencing non-fiber wood products including essential oils and extracts require adopting an adaptive approach to definitions in annotations, acknowledging the definitions for “essential oil,” “extract” and “powder” that were proposed by the other working group to be very useful;
• there is a need to amend current annotations relating to tree species; and
• greater flexibility and adaptability in the annotation drafting process are needed to allow the Convention to anticipate trade patterns and to facilitate enforcement.
REVIEW OF SIGNIFICANT TRADE
On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the documents on the overview of the species-based RST (PC19 Doc.12.2), species selected following CoP14 (PC19 Doc.12.3) and the selection of species for RST following CoP15 (PC19 Doc.12.4). The Committee established a working group to be chaired by Nomenclature Specialist Noel McGough (UK).
SPECIES SELECTED FOLLOWING COP14: On Tuesday, the working group on RST considered the provisional category assigned to each species selected for review following CoP14. They debated whether Cistanche deserticola (desert cistanche) in China should be considered of “possible concern” or “least concern.” Following China’s report on national controls, participants agreed to consider it of “least concern.”
For Pericopsis elata (African teak), the working group agreed on the category of “possible concern” in Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and “urgent concern” in Côte d’Ivoire. The working group discussed recommendations for Congo and the DRC, including requests within six months, to: gather existing information on the biology, conservation and trade of specimens; set cautious harvest and export quotas in consultation with the Secretariat and PC Chair; and produce a three-year management plan with milestones for implementation. For Pericopsis elata in Congo, TRAFFIC suggested determining whether trade is detrimental to the population in the wild, and the US asked for a reference to the production of annual reports. For Pericopsis elata in Côte d’Ivoire, delegates discussed requests within three months for: an initial zero quota for wild live specimens; clarification on NDFs; and the development and implementation of plans to control trade. The working group also agreed to downgrade Pericopsis elata in Cameroon from “possible concern” to “least concern,” after Cameroon offered further information on population density, legal and management measures, and positive impacts of the ITTO-CITES Timber Programme.
For mahogany, the working group proposed to categorize species of “possible concern” in: Honduras, because of unclear information on implementation; Belize, due to the need for further information on management measures; Nicaragua, because of needed clarification on capacity to make NDFs and on trade in semi-finished products; and Ecuador, because of needed clarification as to the effectiveness of a current trade ban and its possible extension. The working group agreed on “urgent concern” for Bolivia, while noting progress under the ITTO-CITES Timber Programme; and “least concern” for Colombia and Venezuela.
On Thursday, McGough presented the working group recommendations to plenary, noting that species of “least concern” had been removed from the RST. The US recommended adopting a coherent approach in formulating recommendations for species of “possible concern,” by requesting for all species within that category that the Management Authority inform the Secretariat of the methodology used for making non-detriment assessments. Delegates also discussed the link between annual reporting requirements and the RST. McGough presented a revised version of the recommendations that the PC adopted without further amendment.
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG08 Doc.1 (Rev.1)), inter alia, that:
• for Euphorbia and Aloe species of “possible concern” in Madagascar: within six months, the Management Authority inform the Secretariat of the non-detriment assessments methodology, and review available information on conservation, cultivation and trade status and put in place a conservative export quota;
• for Euphorbia and Aloe species of “urgent concern” in Madagascar: within three months, the Management Authority establish a voluntary export quota system, put in place a zero export quota for wild specimens, and inform the Secretariat of the NDF process before trade may be reopened;
• for Palms species of “possible concern” in Madagascar: within six months, the Management Authority should inform the Secretariat of the non-detriment assessments methodology; establish a voluntary export quota system and put in place a conservative export quota for wild live specimens of plants; and review the available information on the productivity, viability and generation of seeds of wild plants and put in place a conservative export quota for wild seeds; and within nine months, present a draft management plan for trade in wild seeds of palms for PC 20 consideration
• for Palms species of “urgent concern” in Madagascar: within three months, establish a voluntary export quota system, put in place a zero export quota for wild specimens; before trade may be reopened, inform the Secretariat of the NDF process; review the available information on the productivity, viability and generation of seeds of wild specimens and put in place a conservative export quota for wild seeds; and within nine months, present a draft management plan for trade in wild seeds of palms under review for PC 20 consideration;
• for Pericopsis elata species of “possible concern” in Congo and the DRC: within six months, the Management Authority inform the Secretariat of the non-detriment assessments methodology and establish a conservative harvest and export quota; and the Management Authority in the Congo work with the Secretariat on fulfilling their annual reporting requirements;
• for Pericopsis elata species of “urgent concern” in Côte d’Ivoire: within three months, the Management Authority set a zero quota and before trade resumes, clarify with the Secretariat how it determines that the level of trade is not detrimental to wild populations;
• for mahogany species of “possible concern” in Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras and Ecuador: within six months, the Management Authority inform the Secretariat of the non-detriment assessments methodology and establish a conservative harvest and export quota; Ecuador clarify whether the prohibition on export of this species remains in place; and Nicaragua inform on the types of Swietenia macrophylla (bigleaf mahogany) products being exported; and
• for mahogany species of “urgent concern” in Bolivia: within three months, the Management Authority set a zero quota; clarify with the Secretariat how it determines that the level of trade is not detrimental to wild populations before trade resumes; and report on the results, recommendations and actions under the ITTO-CITES Timber Programme.
The PC further recommends that Cymbidium erythrostylum (Red Column Cymbidium) in Vietnam, Cistanche deserticola in China and Pericopsis elata in Cameroon be downgraded to “least concern” and therefore excluded from the RST.
SELECTION OF SPECIES FOLLOWING COP15:On Tuesday, the working group addressed the selection of species following CoP15, with range countries explaining levels of trade. Participants noted a number of species to be included in the RST process. Madagascar requested adding three species to the list: Euphorbia itremensis, Alluaudia ascendens and Alluaudiopsis fiherensis.
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG08 Doc.1 (Rev.1)) Pachypodium namaquanum, Dendrobium eriifolium, Euphorbia itremensis, Alluaudia ascendens and Alluaudiopsis fiherensis as additional taxa for possible review.
EVALUATION OF THE RST:On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document on the evaluation of the RST (PC19 Doc.12.1), noting missing names of the focal points in countries that had agreed to be members of the advisory working group and anticipating that case studies will be available in 2012. The PC welcomed Aro Vonjy Ramarosandratana (Madagascar) as a new member of the advisory working group and requested nominations to fill the remaining gaps in membership. Chair Clemente proposed, in the absence of progress by July 2011, requesting the AC to consider other nominations.
SPECIES UNDER REVIEW: On Monday, Patricia Dávila (Mexico) presented the overview of species under review (PC19 Doc13.1 (Rev.1)), drawing attention to the periodic review of Agave victoriae-reginae (Maguey noa) (PC19 Inf.15) and suggested retaining it in Appendix II because of the vulnerability and conservation status of several populations. The Committee established a working group chaired by Dávila to continue discussion of these documents.
On Tuesday, the working group, following the Secretariat’s suggestion to focus on completing pending reviews, looked at species for periodic review that were not completed in the previous period, selecting relevant and significant species, and developing recommendations for continuing the process.
On Thursday, Dávila reported to plenary the results of the working group, noting that: the group decided to focus on species for which the review already started prior to CoP15; and the reviews for Agave victoriae-reginae (Queen Victoria Agave) and Saussurea costus (Costus) were concluded with the finding that these species remain in Appendices II and I, respectively. Germany enquired about the reasons for the latter, with Dávila explaining that it was based on relevant PC 19 information documents. Namibia recalled that it had proposed to keep Welwitschia mirabilis in Appendix II, following the periodic review. The North America representative, supported by the Europe representative, favored concluding the reviews of Agave victoriae-reginae and Saussurea costus given the “immense” list of species under periodic review. The PC adopted the recommendations with minor amendments, and nominated Dávila as the chair of the intersessional working group on the periodic review and amendments to the Appendices.
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG09 Doc.1), inter alia, to:
• maintain Agave victoriae-reginae in Appendix II;
• maintain Saussurea costus in Appendix I;
• request Costa Rica and Guatemala to provide a status update of the review for Balmea stormiae (Ayuque);
• request Costa Rica to provide a status update of the review for Platymiscium pleiostachyum (cristobal) and Peristeria elata (Holy Ghost orchid); and
• request Brazil to provide a status update of the reviews for Tillandsia kautskyi (Kautsky’s tillandsia), T. sprengeliana (Sprengei’s tillandsia) and T. sucrei (Sucre tillandsia).
SELECTION OF SPECIES FOR REVIEW:On Monday, Dávila introduced the document on the selection of species for review following CoP15 (PC19 Doc.13.2). The Committee established a working group chaired by Dávila to continue discussion of these documents. On Tuesday, the working group narrowed down lists of new selected species based on, inter alia: skewed data possibly due to input errors; review within the last ten years; absence from the CITES Appendices; lack of conservation status; challenge in identification; and simultaneous consideration by the RST working group. On Thursday, Dávila reported to plenary the results of the working group, which were adopted by the PC.
Recommendation: The PC requests (PC19 WG09 Doc.1) the Secretariat to send a notification to the range states regarding the trade status of Encephalartos spp. (cycads) (Zimbabwe), Aloe polyphylla (spiral aloe) (Lesotho and South Africa) and Fitzroya cupressoides (Patagonian cypress) (Chile) in Appendix I.
SCLEROCACTUS:On Wednesday, the US reported that the range-wide review of Sclerocactus is underway and that a report will be submitted to PC 20. The PC took note of the relevant document (PC19 Doc.13.3).
AMENDMENTS TO APPENDICES
SPECIES: On Monday, Dávila introduced documents on assessment of trade in epiphytic cacti and review of listing of Cactaceae spp. in Appendix II (PC19 Doc.14.1) and Euphorbia spp. (PC19 Doc.14.2 (Rev.1)). The Committee decided to include further discussion of these documents in the mandate of the working group on periodic review.
On Tuesday, the working group discussed the: vast amount of species to be addressed under this item; limited information available and capacities to collect the necessary information; and need to prioritize certain species of Euphorbia and epiphytic cacti.
On Thursday, Dávila presented to plenary the working group’s recommendations. The World Conservation Trust-IWMC proposed, and delegates agreed, to refer in both instances to “certain taxa” rather than to “artificially propagated specimens.” PC 19 adopted both sets of recommendations as amended, noting that discussion will continue in an intersessional working group on the periodic review chaired by Dávila.
Recommendation: The PC requests (PC19 WG09 Doc.1) the Secretariat to send a notification to the range states regarding the possibility of exempting certain taxa of Appendix II epiphytic cacti and deleting certain taxa of succulent Euphorbia from Appendix II.
MADAGASCAR: On Monday, Nomenclature Specialist McGough introduced the document on Madagascar (PC19 Doc.14.3). The Committee established a working group chaired by Aro Vonjy Ramarosandratana (Madagascar) and Nomenclature Specialist McGough.
On Wednesday, the working group considered a mechanism to implement Decision 15.97, which asks Madagascar and the PC to, inter alia: gather further information on the succulent taxa proposed for listing at CoP15; review and gather information on species that would benefit from CITES listing; and identify NDF capacity-building options for listed species.
The group discussed priority species from Madagascar for listing in Appendix II, looking at taxonomical issues and noting reference in national legislation to common names has led to confusion as to which species are covered. They debated the wording “endemic to or originating from” Madagascar, noting that “originating from” could be useful to customs officials when inspecting shipments. For succulent species, Madagascar noted the difficulty in differentiating between wild and nursery plants. On funding, the Netherlands and ITTO identified potential sources of support, such as via an upcoming project on isotopes and DNA analysis in Central Africa.
On Thursday, Nomenclature Specialist McGough presented the working group’s recommendations to plenary, which the PC adopted with minor amendments.
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG10 Doc.1), inter alia, that:
• Madagascar and the PC review the trade and conservation status of the succulent species proposed for listing at CoP15 but not adopted;
• species of Dalbergia and Diospyros endemic to Madagascar be a priority for Appendix II listing at CoP16 and proposals to amend the appendix be prepared;
• funds be sought for such proposals and for in-situ NDF workshops for succulent plants and palms;
• recommendations on identification techniques be prepared; and
• activities undertaken in Madagascar be considered as a case study of CITES-related activities that support GSPC implementation and discuss with the CBD Secretariat and UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Center how to secure Global Environment Facility funds to further compatible work in Madagascar and other priority African countries.
TRANSPORT OF LIVE SPECIMENS
On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced the document on the transport of live specimens (PC19 Doc.15). Austria accepted to continue as the liaison person to the Joint Transport Working Group, and Chile agreed to be part of this group.
BIGLEAF MAHOGANY:On Wednesday, Guatemala introduced the progress report of the Working Group on Bigleaf Mahogany and other neotropical timber species (PC19 Doc.16.1(Rev.1)). Supported by the Central and South America and the Caribbean representative, the Secretariat welcomed Chile’s request to participate in the Working Group as an invited expert, noting that Chile’s status as a transit country does not allow it to be a full member based on the CoP mandate to extend the Working Group’s membership to import or export countries only.
CITES-ITTO TIMBER PROGRAMME:On Wednesday, the Secretariat presented the progress report on the joint CITES-ITTO Timber Programme (PC19 Doc.16.2). The ITTO underscored the successful outcomes of the programme were taken into account by the RST working group at PC 19 with regard to Pericopsis elata in Cameroon. He also noted for the record, with reference to RST of species selected following CoP14, that the programme is supporting NDFs for Mahogany in Bolivia, which is considered of “urgent concern,” and Pericopsis elata in Congo, which is considered of “possible concern.”
AGARWOOD-PRODUCING TAXA:On Monday, the Oceania representative introduced the document on Agarwood-producing taxa (PC19 Doc.16.3). The Committee established a working group co-chaired by the Oceania and the Asia alternate representatives. On Thursday, the Oceania representative presented to plenary the working group’s recommendations, which the PC adopted without amendment.
Recommendation: The PC recommends (PC19 WG11 Doc.1), inter alia, thatinformation from range states on the origin of their plantation material and assessment of the application of artificially propagated material into their plantation be fed into the second Agarwood workshop to be held in Indonesia in November 2011 and be a useful model for any future consideration of other CITES-listed tree species grown in mixed plantations.
ANIBA ROSAEODORA: On Monday, PC Vice-Chair Benitez introduced the document on Aniba rosaeodora (Brazil rosewood) (PC16 Doc16.4). The Committee established a working group chaired by the EU to address both Aniba rosaeodora and Bulnesia sarmientoi (Palo Santo). On Thursday, the EU reported to plenary on the working group’s recommendations, noting reliance on the proposed definition of “essential oil” discussed in the other working group and underscoring that Brazil interprets the annotation differently from other members of the working group. Chair Clemente proposed, and the PC agreed, that discussion continue in the intersessional working group on annotations, and reminded that the intersessional working group should also fulfill the CoP15 mandate to explore mechanisms for making NDFs for this species. The PC took note of the recommendations.
In the draft recommendation (PC19 WG12 Doc.1), the PC notes that:
• Brazil will produce a draft document on identification of Aniba rosaeodora oil to be circulated to importing parties and industry for comments and suggestions;
• the current annotation #12 on logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets, plywood and essential oil (excluding finished products packaged and ready for retail) is appropriate; however Brazil interprets it to include pure essential oil, oil in solutions and derivatives (excluding solutions and concentrations of under 1% and finished products packaged and ready for retail trade); and
• no other species need to be listed to support effective identification and regulation.
BULNESIA SARMIENTOI: On Monday, PC Vice-Chair Benitez introduced the document on Bulnesia sarmientoi (PC19 Doc 16.5(Rev.1)). The Committee established a working group chaired by the EU to address both Aniba rosaeodora and Bulnesia sarmientoi. On Thursday, the EU reported to plenary on the working group’s recommendations, underscoring that the group identified: a gap in the annotation with regards to essential oil; the need to distinguish essential oil from powder and extracts; and the possibility for Argentina to start the procedure to amend the annotation by CoP16. The PC took note of the recommendations, and proposed the discussions continue in the intersessional working group on annotations.
In the draft recommendation (PC19 WG12 Doc.1), the PC notes, inter alia, that:
• Argentina is working on a tool to identify extract, powder and wood and that samples will be sent to importing countries to facilitate identification;
• annotation #11 does not include essential oil and some members favored its amendment;
• Argentina is invited to evaluate whether an amendment to the annotation is necessary as the existing annotation does not contain the term “essential oil,” which appears to be in trade; and
• Argentina is in the process of assessing look-alike issues between Bulnesia sarmientoi and “guayacan” (Caesalpinia paraguaiensis) and some species of the “lapacho” (Tabebuia spp.) to verify the opportunity to list those species.
On Wednesday, the Secretariat orally reported on the production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species, noting that funds had been provided by the EU to hire an expert to prepare guidelines, for consideration at PC 20, on the appropriate use of source codes to be used on CITES permits and certificates. The PC took note of the oral report.
On Thursday, Nomenclature Specialist McGough introduced the document on nomenclature matters (PC19 Doc.18). Chair Clemente drew attention to CoP Decision 15.63 that refers to taxa listed in the Appendices that can be included under the name of a higher taxon without altering the scope of the listing. The Oceania representative, supported by Austria, objected, stressing that plants are not comparable to animals in this regard, and preferring the current alphabetic order by plant family. Austria noted that enforcement and control organs find it easier to go through plants in alphabetical order. The US pledged support to complete the outstanding revisions of key plant checklists. The PC agreed that there was no need to produce a supplement to the CITES Carnivorous Plant Checklist and noted that SC 61 will require input for the creation of a working group on incorporating taxonomic serial numbers as an element of CITES data sets.
On Thursday, the Secretariat presented a progress report on the identification manual (PC19 Doc.19), noting that the manual has become a fully web-based and operational database. Delegates discussed the system for verification of corrections to the database, given its wiki structure; and the need for urgent inclusion of hybrid orchids in the database.
Plenary adopted the first part of the executive summary of the meeting (PC19 Sum.1) with some corrections on Wednesday, and the second part (PC19 Sum.2) on Thursday, pending the electronic approval of the third part to be posted online by the Secretariat after the meeting. The Secretariat announced that PC 20 is tentatively scheduled in March 2012, and Ireland offered to host both scientific committees’ meetings in 2012.
Chair Clemente commended delegates on their hard work, noting the exceptionally short duration of PC 19. She stressed the importance of the participation of the CITES Secretary-General, the SC chair and the AC interim chair at PC 19. CITES Secretary-General Scanlon thanked Ireland for the generous offer, congratulated delegates for having addressed 45 working documents in four days, and praised the collaborative sprit between parties, IGOs, NGOs and the private sector. He also reminded delegates of the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Master Degree in Management, Access and Conservation of Species in Trade and of the launch of the CITES Virtual College, both to be hosted by the International University of Andalusia, Spain. Chair Clemente and Scanlon thanked the Secretariat, the interpreters, and the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. Scanlon closed the meeting at 5:57 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF PC 19
FROM A SCIENTIFIC EXPERT TO A CUSTOMS OFFICIAL
Walking the tight rope between the hard-core scientific community and the non-Latin-speaking customs and enforcement universe, delegates to the CITES Plants Committee in Geneva grappled with the technical lexicon and assessments underpinning the day-to-day functioning of CITES. With a record number of participants and a shorter session than usual, PC 19 did not shy away from delving into the broader implications of the science-based processes that ultimately affect the way the Convention works in the field. Notwithstanding their technical backgrounds, delegates pressed on in an effort to systematically consider the effects of their decisions on implementation, while fulfilling the PC’s mandate to organize intersessional work in response to the multiple tasks assigned to it by the latest CoP.
As the Committee ploughed through an impressive agenda, this analysis investigates whether the PC’s Herculean efforts are rewarded by yielding the best results for the implementation of the Convention. This analysis thus focuses on making annotations more easily applicable on the ground, institutionalizing non-detriment findings (NDFs), keeping the Appendices up to date and using the Review of Significant Trade (RST) to its best advantage. It also explores how linkages with other conventions and international processes might hold a key to more effective and cost-efficient control of the international trade in endangered species.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE ANNOTATIONS
The PC is a technical body, it houses the scientific knowledge pertinent to plant species and is therefore the place to ensure annotations—exceptions to listings in the Appendices, which for the greatest part concern plant rather than animal species—are coherent. These entries are designed to define parts and derivatives of a listed species—such as seeds in the simpler cases or products, such as essential oils, in the more complex ones—that are exempt from the trade limitations deriving from a CITES listing. Annotations have a history of being complicated: getting an annotation not only technically correct but also intelligible to a non-scientific expert can prove challenging. PC 19 worked on specific annotations for Cactaceae, orchids and tree species, with heated debate surrounding the possibility of excluding all hybrid orchids from Appendix II. Delegates also attempted to define key terms used across the board, such as “essential oil,” “powder” and “packaged and ready for retail trade,” with the cosmetic and medicinal industry and some regional groups pressing to have the newly-found definitions immediately operationalized under CITES (as working definitions included in the CITES Glossary), and others expressing concern about the legal implications of such an unprecedented step. In the end, PC 19 bought itself more time to consider the matter, by taking note, rather than adopting, the relevant recommendations.
More broadly, PC 19 also considered involving other experts in the wordsmithing as a new, more inclusive strategy for its overall annotation work. The Standing Committee may be invited to look into the legal bearing of the annotations. Other potential expert candidates include lawyers and those working on compliance and implementation that are at the receiving end of the annotations, yet rarely get a say in crafting them. Work on annotations may remain seemingly never ending. Traders continuously find creative ways to get around listings, such as transforming products like mahogany by carving or drying, or mixing plant oil extracts. Also, traded products evolve in response to new consumer demands. As a result, CITES needs to be able to morph its annotations fast enough to effectively respond to reality in the field.
THE MAIN ROAD IS NOT ON THE MAP: NDFS
Along similar lines, the PC continued to engage in a wide discussion of the use of NDFs for enhancing CITES implementation. As the process to ensure trade in listed species does not jeopardize the species’ existence, NDFs are considered by many as the heart of the Convention. Yet, to date, insufficient guidance is provided by the CITES text or CoP outcomes as to how exactly the process should be carried out. As a result, NDFs come in all shapes and sizes, or sometimes are not carried out at all. The tension between parties’ favoring the development of an official roadmap on how to perform NDFs and those that worry about being restricted to following a laid-out path that does not allow for differences in capacities or circumstances is not new. What is new, however, is the strategy to ensure the adoption of a resolution on NDFs by the next CoP, after the last failed attempts at both CoP15 and the preceding meeting of the AC. For this, PC 19 is eagerly seeking to involve the AC but consciously trying to avoid ruffling the AC’s feathers by presenting a fully-developed draft resolution, choosing instead to spell out the many reasons why the time is ripe for such a move. Hopefully this pragmatic approach will cement collaboration between the two scientific committees and help hesitant parties muster up enough confidence that any resulting guidelines will not be used as a tool to “name and shame,” but rather make the NDF process, and therefore the Convention operations overall, more consistent and efficient, while remaining open to experimentation and understanding of different capabilities. As Chair Clemente noted that good-quality NDFs may spare countries the RST, NDF guidelines might arguably “sustainably capture” two birds with one stone—making NDFs better and RSTs fewer.
DOES THE REVIEW OF SIGNIFICANT TRADE YIELD SIGNIFICANT RESULTS?
The RST process kicks in when there is reason to believe that an Appendix II listed species is traded at significant levels without adequate implementation of CITES provisions. As such, if the levels of trade and concern are high, the speed of response needs to be great to ensure such trade is actually controlled.
PC 19 looked at species selected by the CITES PC following CoP14, which was held in 2007, and drafted recommendations for CoP16’s consideration in 2013. Six years after the species entered the RST process, CoP16 will either conclude the process by acknowledging improved management measures or sanction the party that did not put sufficient measures in place. “It could already be too late for some species of ‘urgent concern’ that are also classified as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List,” mused one delegate. Evidently, the RST is crippled by its own length.
In addition, some species, such as Pericopsis elata (African teak), have entered the RST more than once, suggesting that the process does not necessarily produce the desired result, and might need a major facelift. On the bright side, though, the RST helps match a country’s implementation challenges with international support to assess and manage species of concern. This was evident at PC 19 with Pericopsis elata in Cameroon being downgraded to “least concern” and removed from the RST also thanks to the support of the ITTO-CITES Timber Programme at the country level. In a quest for clarity and improvement, the evaluation of the RST, which follows CoP14 terms of reference and will be addressed in depth at the next PC, will study Pericopsis elata and shed light on the quality of the process and ways to improve its effectiveness.
A LOT OF WORK FOR LITTLE REWARD? KEEPING THE APPENDICES UP TO DATE
The periodic review of plant species included in the CITES Appendices is another area that can greatly contribute to effective implementation. Many believe the review underpins the efficacy of the Convention by ensuring that only species that need CITES protection (and therefore truly deserve a share of its limited resources) are listed on its densely populated Appendices. Some also see it as a capacity-building exercise because it consists of applying the very same listing criteria to confirm whether listed species should stay listed as they are or not. On the other hand, the time and resources allocated to the periodic review could be better spent elsewhere: countries are more inclined to devote their meager resources to species actually threatened by trade, rather than to those that are no longer in trade and should be expunged from the Appendices. Furthermore, some note that little damage is done by leaving a species that no longer needs CITES protection on the Appendices, considering them as “sedimentation tanks” where the less relevant listings simply sink to the bottom and are forgotten.
The sheer scale of the task is certainly daunting, with the number of species currently identified for the periodic review far outweighing the capacity and willingness to review each and every one of them, not to mention the time needed to undertake just one review. PC 19 thus reached the sobering conclusion that prioritization is needed. Committee members, therefore, focused on concluding ongoing reviews before embarking on new ones, leaving species that appear on the radar screens of both the RST and the periodic review to the former, and subjecting new species to the periodic review only when a party volunteers to carry out the review.
OTHER FERTILE GROUND FOR CITES TO BLOOM
While delegates at PC 19 did their best to keep the ultimate aim of the Convention at the forefront of their technical discussions aimed at making CITES own scientific processes as effective as possible, another important political signal emerged from their discussions: joining forces with other international processes may help confront CITES implementation challenges. The level of success of the ITTO-CITES Timber Programme certainly bodes well for greater synergies between the highly-specialized but resource-constrained CITES regime and other processes. Indeed, under the direction of its new Secretary-General, the Convention is increasingly reaching out to the CBD and the IPBES—to name a few, while also making the most of opportunities offered by the International Year of Forests.
PC 19 thus set the Convention on a path of increased collaboration across the global environmental governance landscape, in particular by launching intersessional working groups on the CBD Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and on climate change. In addition, PC 19 also started an important reflection on fine-tuning the scientific tools at the disposal of CITES: together with the AC, the PC will notably continue work on a resolution on NDFs and the evaluation of the RST. The science-compliance interface will certainly mark continued intersessional discussions on the Convention’s effectiveness.
International Meeting on CBD Article 10 (sustainable use of biological diversity) with a focus on Article 10(c) (customary use of biological diversity): This meeting will provide advice on the possible content and implementation of a new major component of work on Article 10(c), including guidance on sustainable use and related incentive measures for indigenous and local communities; measures to increase the engagement of indigenous and local communities and governments at national and local levels in the implementation of Article 10 and the ecosystem approach; and a strategy to integrate Article 10, with a focus on 10(c), as a cross-cutting issue into the Convention’s various programmes of work and thematic areas, beginning with the programme of work on protected areas. The meeting will also look at refining and operationalizing the proposed indicators on traditional knowledge, as well as the development of appropriate indicators for customary sustainable use. dates: 31 May-3 June 2011 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1-514-288-2220 fax: +1-514-288-6588 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=8JCSU-01
GPPC 2011: A Global Partnership for Plant Conservation: This conference is titled “Supporting the worldwide implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation” and is organized by the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation (GPPC) in association with the CBD Secretariat and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. dates: 5-7 July 2011 location: St. Louis, Missouri, USA contact: Missouri Botanical Garden email: [email protected] www: http://mbgserv18.mobot.org/ocs/index.php/gppc/gppcstl
CITES Animals Committee 25: The 25th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee is organized by the CITES Secretariat. dates: 18-22 July 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: CITES Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40 fax: +41-22-797-34-17 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cites.org/eng/com/AC/index.shtml
CITES Standing Committee 61: The 61st meeting of the CITES Standing Committee is organized by the CITES Secretariat. dates: 15-19 August 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: CITES Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40 fax: +41-22-797-34-17 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cites.org/eng/com/SC/index.shtml
2nd World Biodiversity Congress: This Congress intends to bring the international scientific community together to initiate immediate network action to conserve the flora and fauna in biodiversity hotspots. dates: 8-12 September 2011 location: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia contact: WBC Secretariat phone: +91-80-2296-1315 fax: +91-80-2318 1443 email: [email protected] www: http://www.worldbiodiversity2011.com/
IPBES First Plenary Meeting: The First Plenary Meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) will consider draft principles and procedures, governance structure, and the nomination and the selection of host institution(s) and host country. dates: 3-7 October 2011 (provisional) location: to be determined contact: IPBES/UNEP phone: +254-20-762- 5135 fax: +254-20-762-3926 email: [email protected] www: http://ipbes.net/plenary-sessions.html
CBD SBSTTA 15: The fifteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 15) of the CBD is organized by the CBD Secretariat. dates: 7-11 November 2011 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1-514-288-2220 fax: +1-514-288-6588 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
ITTC-47: The 47th meeting of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC-47) and associated sessions of the four committees will meet in Guatemala. dates: 14-19 November 2011 location: La Antigua, Guatemala contact: ITTO Secretariat phone: +81-45-223-1110 fax: +81-45-223-1111 email: [email protected] www: http://www.itto.int
UNFCCC COP 17 and COP/MOP 7: The 17th session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 17) and the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties (COP/MOP 7) to the Kyoto Protocol will meet in South Africa. dates: 28 November – 9 December 2011 location: Durban, South Africa contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: [email protected] www: http://unfccc.int/
CITES Plants Committee 20: The 20th meeting of the CITES Plants Committee is organized by the CITES Secretariat. dates: March 2012 location: Ireland (tentative) contact: CITES Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40 fax: +41-22-797-34-17 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cites.org/eng/com/PC/index.shtml
CBD SBSTTA 16: The 16th meeting of SBSTTA is organized by the CBD Secretariat. dates: 30 April - 4 May 2012 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1-514-288-2220 fax: +1-514-288-6588 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD): This meeting is also referred to as Rio+20. dates: 4-6 June 2012 location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil contact: UNCSD Secretariat email: [email protected] www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/
RAMSAR COP 11: The 11th meeting of the contracting parties (COP 11) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance will meet in 2012. dates: 19-26 June 2012 location: Bucharest, Romania contact: Ramsar Secretariat phone: +41-22-999-0170 fax: +41-22-999-0169 email:[email protected] www: http://www.ramsar.org
CITES COP 16: The sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES will take place in 2013. dates: to be announced location: Thailand contact: CITES Secretariat phone: +41-22-917-8139/40 fax: +41-22-797-3417 email: [email protected] www: http://www.cites.org