For the first time, the EU will act as a full party at a CITES conference, where crucial amendments to wildlife protection rules are expected to be adopted, writes Karmenu Vella.

Tommorow representatives of 182 countries and the EU will gather at the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP17) in Johannesburg, South Africa to agree tangible measures to better protect some of the planet's most vulnerable species.

The EU will participate for the first time as a full member of CITES and will seek stricter international measures against wildlife trafficking, in line with the EU action plan on wildlife trafficking. It strongly supports the continued ban on trade in ivory.

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP17) will take place between 24 September and 5 October 2016. It provides a forum for Parties to review the implementation of the CITES Convention, which covers more than 35 000 plants and animals, ensuring that trade remains legal, traceable and sustainable, and to adopt new binding measures for wildlife protection.

The EU and its Member States, represented by Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, come to Johannesburgwith a united voice and an ambitious agenda. The EU will propose to address wildlife trafficking and the corruption associated with it, to define international standards on trade in hunting trophies, ensuring that such trade can only happen when both legal and sustainable. It also proposes to include additional marine (sharks), timber (rosewood), and exotic pet species (reptiles) in CITES, or upgrading their protection under CITES (parrots and mammals) as they are subject to unsustainable or illegal international trade.

Commissioner Vella said: "The EU is proud to be a world leader in the fight against wildlife trafficking. We see the CITES CoP as an opportunity to get even tougher on the fight against wildlife trafficking and the corruption that fuels it. Through CITES, we will be working with our partners to implement the new EU Wildlife Action Plan to the full. We are building a global alliance among countries to protect wildlife where it lives, block points of transit, and stamp out the illegal demand".

In particular, the EU will support a continuation of the ban on international trade in ivory and press for the adoption of strong measures against ivory trafficking, as well as trafficking affecting rhinoceroses, tigers, great apes, pangolins and rosewood.

Sept. 23, 2016 Living photo: Profimedia

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