© naturepl.com/John Downer / WWF

WWF at the conference

With international momentum to tackle poaching and illegal wildlife trade continuing to grow, over 180 countries are meeting in South Africa at the world’s most important wildlife trade meeting – the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES).

CITES CoP17 logo 
© Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa
CITES CoP17 logo
© Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa

The conference will be aiming to build on the significant progress made at the last CoP in Bangkok in 2013 and the raft of global declarations and commitments to tackle poaching and wildlife trafficking that have been adopted over the past few years, including the UN General Assembly Resolution against wildlife trafficking, the London and Kasane conferences, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The world is clearly uniting against wildlife crime and CoP17 represents an opportunity to put these commitments into action through strong measures on illegal wildlife trade, corruption, demand reduction and compliance. WWF will be pushing for the agreement on hese steps – and calling for countries that fail to meet their commitments to be held to account under CITES, facing trade suspensions if necessary.

And there will be many proposals to discuss as this will be the largest and busiest CITES CoP ever. With a record 182 Parties, including the European Union, the conference will consider a record number of listing proposals, resolutions and decisions. WWF’s support or opposition to these proposals and agenda documents are available for download.

As with every CoP, many of the issues will be contentious, including those relating to sharks, tigers, lions, rhinos and elephants.

Like all previous CoPs, the WWF delegation will play a critical role in the process, providing critical advice to Parties and advocating strongly for issues that will help tackle illegal wildlife trade, including holding countries that are complicit in such crime to account.

We will also be pushing Parties to provide the resources necessary to make CITES work. With wildlife crime soaring and illegal wildlife trade increasingly driven by international organised crime syndicates, this is not the time to rein in CITES. Instead, it is time to for Parties to provide it with the significant additional resources needed to do its increasingly complex and critical work.

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CITES logo
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an international agreement between governments, that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival and it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 33,000 species of animals and plants.

TRAFFIC is a joint programme of WWF and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) that monitors the global wildlife trade. TRAFFIC also works in close co-operation with CITES.