Endangered species are legally traded to extinction

Attending CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species in Wild Flora and Fauna) CoP18 in Geneva in August, along with Nature Needs More we were excited to attend the side event featuring  eCITES BaseSolution electronic permitting which has been developed by UNCTAD with CITES and the Swiss and Sri Lankan Government, with Sri Lanka the first country to implement and trial.

Honoured to be invited to attend the launch of eCITES in Sri Lanka in October 2019 by Minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon John Amaratunga. Also attending the launch was the Australian High Commissioner, Victoria Coakley who was incredibly impressed with the presentation and wished to assist with global implementation.

Launch of eCITES Base Solution electronic permitting in Sri Lanka

Now that the system has been implemented, we’re focused on a global roll out before the next CoP which is scheduled to be held in Costa Rica in 2022. We’ve been assured that training and implementation can take between 6-12 weeks, which makes this absolutely doable to meet that deadline. The cost is US$150,000 per country – US$30 million for all 183 signatory countries.

The timing is critical given the pandemic we’re experiencing and the ongoing evidence that supports global action given that:

  1. 2019 report (IPBES) confirmed direct exploitation for trade is the second biggest threat to species survival.
  2. Since CITES came into force in 1975, the convention itself has had only one review and that was in 1994. Any business or industry that doesn’t reflect on how it needs to evolve to adapt to the changing, external conditions would undoubtedly become ineffective (if in fact it managed to survive).
  3. It has not been modernised since the 1970s, almost all CITES parties still use a paper-based system that doesn’t integrate with customs. There is no traceability of shipments from source to destination
  4. Without traceability and transparency, there is no proof of sustainability and the sustainable-use model is the basis for the legal trade.
  5. In a world where big data rules, no major steps have been taken to digitise the trade in endangered species.
  6. When the legal trade was estimated to be worth US$320 billion as far back as 2012 and it would cost only US$30 million to roll out an electronic system to all 183 CITES signatory parties, why hasn’t this been done – it has been talked about for nearly a decade.

Our work was featured by Africa Geographic.