CITES seeks to update trade rules for web age

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: International trade

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been shaping its agenda and framework
according to the evolving global market.

CITES is an agreement between 169 governments whose aim is to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The members wrapped up their two-week conference in The Hague last week and CITES adopted a strategic vision set to encompass 2008 to 2013. While the primary developments of the meetings pertained to wildlife, an important theme was the adaptation of the regulatory environment for the international trade of all commercial products derived from the wild, with special attention given to the Internet. For the dietary supplement industry, the impact of such regulatory discourse is not immediate. Companies already sourcing nutraceutical or herbal ingredients sustainably can see that their practices are being reinforced, while those not integrating the economic empowerment of communities into their practices could one day feel the weight of regulatory on their shoulders. "Humanity's appetite for wild plants and animals and for wildlife products will clearly expand over the coming decades,"​ said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers. "We need to think creatively about how to manage the wildlife trade if we are to meet human needs while conserving vulnerable species." ​Issues at the conference included the need to protect the livelihoods of poor communities dependent on wildlife trade and the growth of such trade through the Internet. The Internet has been a regulatory no-man's-land of sorts where it is much easier for companies to get away with practices they would not be able to continue in a more 'visible' market. At the same time, ssustainability has become the buzzword for ethical businesses taking on practices that keep in mind the effects on peoples and the environment. This has been largely self-motivated for now, but this situation is slowly changing as international regulations catch-up with the global marketplace. "Finding the right balance will require a healthy respect for science, market dynamics and the needs of people who rely on wildlife for their livelihoods,"​ said Wijnstekers. The conference accepted the offer of the Government of Qatar to host the next CITES conference in 2010.

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