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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
CITES, which stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is a global agreement among governments to regulate or ban international trade in species under threat.
In the mid-20th century, governments were beginning to recognize that trade in some wild animals and plants had a devastating impact on those species. These species were being driven toward extinction through unsustainable use for food, fuel, medicine, and other purposes.
And while individual governments could control what happened within their borders, they did not have a way to address the impacts of international trade in these species. In 1973, 21 countries addressed this issue by signing the CITES agreement.
After four decades, CITES remains one of the cornerstones of international conservation. There are 183 member Parties and trade is regulated in more than 35,000 species. Representatives of CITES nations meet every two to three years at a Conference of the Parties to review progress and adjust the lists of protected species, which is grouped into three categories with different levels of protection:
CITES also brings together law enforcement officers from wildlife authorities, national parks, customs, and police agencies to collaborate on efforts to combat wildlife crime targeted at animals such as elephants and rhinos.
CoP18 will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from August 17 to 28, bringing together governments from around the world, enforcement agencies, and NGOs to review progress, update listings for species threatened by commerce, and strengthen management of the international trade of threatened and endangered species.
WWF hopes governments will recognize the serious threat of wildlife crime and will hold countries accountable for failing to meet their commitments to protecting endangered species. At CITES, WWF will focus on advocacy and promotion of items related to the illegal trade of elephant ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts, and certain marine species. WWF’s top priorities at CoP18 include:
Since the last CITES CoP three years ago, international momentum continues to build against wildlife crime, with a number of actions and commitments from governments. The CoP represents an opportunity to put these commitments into action through strong measures on illegal wildlife trade, corruption, demand reduction, and compliance.
The agenda for this year’s CoP includes a record number of agenda items up for debate. WWF will be pushing for the adoption of proposals critical to fighting the illegal wildlife trade and calling for countries that fail to meet their commitments to be held to account under CITES, facing trade suspensions if necessary.