The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (#CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) concluded in Johannesburg today with a high level of consensus and a focus on implementing decisions on the ground.
The meeting was the largest of its kind with as many as 152 governments taking decisions on 62 species-listing proposals submitted by 64 countries. The meeting, which was attended by over 3,500 people, also recorded the highest number of side events and intense media interest from every region of the world.
Some of the notable successes of CoP17 included decisions to bring new marine and timber species under CITES trade controls, continuing a trend from CoP16 where countries turned to CITES to assist them along the path to sustainability in oceans and forests. Further, the meeting also had pangolin and many lesser known species on the agenda. The Johannesburg conference was marked by agreement on measures to improve sustainable trade in a number of species, including the queen conch, humphead wrasse, sharks, snakes and African wild dog as well as a large range of timber species, such as bubinga and rosewoods, and the African cherry and agarwood.
Further, the governments also provided impetus to further safeguard threatened wild animals and plants with added protection for the African grey parrot, Barbary Macaque, Blaine’s fishhook cactus, elephant, pangolin and saiga antelope; and well-targeted enforcement measures agreed to combat illegal trade for specific species. These included the African grey parrot, African lion, cheetah, helmeted hornbill, pangolin, rhino and totoaba.
Multiple new animals and plants were also added to CITES Appendices for the first time, and hence will come under CITES trade controls. These decisions affect a large number of mammals, marine and timber species as well as many reptiles and amphibians and include more than 350 species of rosewood, devil rays, silky sharks and thresher sharks.