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5. As always, elephants are the subject of a number of agenda documents and proposals for amendment of the Appendices. WWF would like to make the following general observations, in addition to our comments and positions on individual documents.

a. We still believe that the National Ivory Action Plan process is central to achieving a reduction in elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade. However, there is an urgent need to make the process more transparent, both for the sake of achieving better conservation outcomes and in order to provide more clarity to countries that are entered into the process. At present it relies too much on self assessment by the relevant countries. The process must also be adequately resourced, ideally through core funding in the Secretariat’s budget.

b. With regard to the agenda items relating to closure of domestic ivory markets, WWF sees the effective closure of markets in the countries neighbouring China (most of which are still National Ivory Action Plan countries) as being the most pressing priority, now that China has commendably closed its domestic ivory markets. Additional restrictions elsewhere should not be seen as an alternative to closure in key Asian markets or to other urgently required measures in key range and transit countries. We also believe that the Parties need to arrive at a better common understanding of what is meant by the term “closure” in different national contexts. Accordingly we advocate for the Standing Committee to consider this issue further and to advise on which domestic ivory markets have controls that are deemed adequate.

c. WWF does not support any of the proposed amendments to the current listings for African elephant in the Appendices - either those that would provide for renewed ivory trade or the proposal to place the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe on Appendix I. WWF calls on the respective countries to agree to mutual withdrawal of these proposals, and for the Parties to focus attention on the National Ivory Action Plan process, as outlined above.

6. WWF notes that the resources available to the Convention fall far short of the ambitions of the Parties, as reflected in decisions at CoP17 and in the long agenda at this meeting. We thank donors for their generosity in providing additional voluntary funding to work on many issues but we also note that others, including a proposed study on rosewood trade, and one on identification techniques for sturgeons, did not receive any funding. If the Parties do not budget for incremental growth at this meeting, and if donors do not dig deeper to fund noncore - funded work, then the gap between ambition and achievement will only grow. WWF stands ready to play its part in this regard.

7. Finally, WWF would like to thank the CITES Secretariat and the CITES Committees for their hard work in preparing so many of the agenda items which are tabled at CoP18.