Hangzhou (China) – February 1, 2015 – Some 80 representatives from national wildlife and other relevant authorities from China, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Commission, and international organizations, including UNDP, UNEP, UNODC and the World Bank, as well as the private sector and non-governmental organizations, experts and specialists from many disciplines, including from the collection and art investment circles, gathered together today for a two-day workshop to discuss demand-side strategies for curbing illegal ivory trade in China. The workshop is co-organized by the Chinese Government and the CITES Secretariat.
Rio+20 – the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – held in 2012 called for strengthened actions to be taken on both the supply and demand sides to combat international trafficking in wildlife. Addressing the issue of demand for illegally traded ivory requires a better understanding of the nature of the demand, the main economic and social factors driving the demand, and an action-oriented approach that focuses on concrete solutions.
The workshop in Hangzhou aims at better understanding the markets, the motivations and the economics of the demand for illegal ivory, identifying the main stakeholders and investors and raising their awareness of the negative consequences of ivory speculation, including the financial loss and penalties ivory smugglers, sellers and buyers are exposing themselves to, and the devastating impacts these investments are having on elephants and people.
Commenting of the workshop, Mr John E. Scanlon, the CITES Secretary-General who is attending the workshop, says: “Well-targeted demand-based interventions are needed to complement the significant enforcement efforts underway across source, transit and destination States. Awareness campaigns to reduce the size of the illegal markets have not yet specifically targeted the speculative nature of the demand for high volumes of illegal ivory in black markets. This groundbreaking workshop addresses targeted demand side strategies as is part of the strong ongoing efforts by the Government of China to curb illegal trade in ivory.”
Elephant populations across Africa are continuing to be seriously affected by poaching and in some places they have declined dramatically due to poaching, which is currently the most immediate human impact on this iconic species. The illegal trade in elephant ivory is putting illicitly gained profits into the hands of poachers, illegal traders and speculators at the expense of ecosystems and the services they provide, while also undermining the rule of law, local and national economies and in some cases national and regional security.
“The Government of China welcomes the opportunity to co-organize this very important event with the CITES Secretariat and we believe it is a major step forward in addressing the demand for illegal ivory. The Government of China has zero tolerance in illegal trade in ivory and has put great efforts in cracking down on smuggling as well as illegal trade within China. China has played a leading role in cross-continent wildlife enforcement including Operation Cobra. We are also determined to reduce the demand for illegal ivory through well targeted campaigns in cooperation with the CITES Secretariat and other partners”, stated Vice Administrator Liu Dongsheng of the State Forestry Administration of China.
“Buying illegal ivory has become a highly risky and unwise investment, that will inevitably lead to great financial and personal grief for those involved. At the very beginning of a new year, we hope that the messages being conveyed through this workshop in Hangzhou are heard loud and clear by anyone who is investing or planning to invest in illegally sourced elephant ivory”, said the CITES Secretary-General in his opening remarks at the workshop.
With 180 Member States, CITES remains one of the world’s most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora.
CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their parts and products, ensuring their survival in the wild, with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.
CITES was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973. The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 3 March as World Wildlife Day. CITES was adopted in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973. The 40th anniversary of the Convention will be celebrated in March 2013 which coincides with the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March 2013.
Learn more about CITES by visiting www.cites.org
Juan Carlos Vasquez
Communication and outreach officer
CITES Secretariat – UNEP – United Nations
15, chemin des Anemones
1219 Chatelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
tel (+4122) 917 8156 (direct)
Mobile: (+4179) 552 2732