CITES COP 16: Opening and Plenary, Happy 40th, CITES!

by [earth] guest blogger

The opening ceremony was quite a spectacle. To summarize very briefly and quite paraphrased:

Prince William: “We can reverse these trends. We can make a difference” (via video chat)

Oystein Stokersen (Chair of CITES Standing Committee): “Must involve communities dependent on resources being managed in a sustainable manner”

Achim Steiner (UNEP Executive Director): “It is easy to remain in the asipiration and to depend on others to do things that we cannot”

John Scanlon (CITES Secretary-General): 3 new Parties to CITES since the last COP: Bahrain, Maldives, and Lebonese Republic = 178 total. “CITES as a model–growing participation and media interest in Committees.” “Illegal trade has reached a scale that poses immediate risk, involves organized crime and sometimes militia. Criminal activity poses a threat to the stability and economies of countries, loss of their cultural heritage, and undermines law.”

Yingluck Shinawatra (Prime Minister of Thailand): “Elephants are very important for Thai cultures.” “In the past, Kings have used elephants to defend independence.” “It is natural to protect elephants–we must protect all forms of life and their natural habitats. Elephants also have feeling and emotion.”

“The Thai government has… 1) enhanced intelligence and customs cooperation with foreign countries 2) will limit supply of ivory products to only those from domestic elephants 3) will amend national legislation to end ivory trade and put it in line with international norms 4) will protect elephants including live domestic elephants in Thailand and those from Africa”

Followed by a very symbolic and modern animation/music/dance collaborative.

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