In Celebration of Earth Day: CITES and Trade Agreements – Partnering to Combat Wildlife Crime and to Achieve Sustainable Development
By Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke and Secretary-General John E. Scanlon of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – April 2016
Global trade in wild animal and plant species, including fish and timber, is on the rise – both legal and illegal. Legal and sustainable trade in certain species, such as the wool of the vicuna or the bark of the African cherry tree, can benefit people and wildlife. The current surge in illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be in the billions of dollars annually, is having devastating economic, social and environmental impacts. But not all the costs of wildlife trafficking can be quantified. Iconic species like elephants, and the lesser-known but heavily trafficked pangolin, are being driven toward what experts warn may be the next big extinction.
Maximizing the impact of addressing these environmental threats through partnership and cooperation is a guiding force in recent discussions between Secretary-General John E. Scanlon of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke. The two leaders are exploring ways to deepen coordination and collaboration to address the burgeoning illegal wildlife trade crisis, as well as to ensure legal and sustainable trade, through new tools to promote conservation and combat trafficking in wild animal and plant species.