Conference on protection of world species starts in The Hague
Jun 3, 2007, 18:16 GMT
The Hague- The 14th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora began Sunday in The Hague with calls to improve the living conditions of people in poorer countries.
CITES General Secretary Willem Wijnstekers stressed that trade was the most important catalyst for growth. 'And that's what CITES is about,' he added. Co-operation was also needed on new conventions such as on climate change.
CITES, established in 1973, has some 30,000 species of wild animals and plants listed for protection, making it the world's biggest tool for biodiversity conservation.
The debate about ivory trade is expected to dominate the conference.
CITES banned international commercial ivory trade in 1989 but in 1997, recognizing that some southern African elephant populations were healthy and well managed, it permitted Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to make a one-time sale of a stock of ivory to Japan totalling 50 tonnes. The sales took place in 1999, earning some 5 million dollars.
A new feature this year is a special ministerial meeting scheduled for June 13, an initiative by the conference host, the Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
The Netherlands is one of the largest importers and exporters of flora, fauna and derivative products.
The 171 member states will also discuss some 40 new proposals by participating governments. Many reflect growing international concern about the destruction of the world's marine and forest resources through overfishing and excessive logging.
Others seek to advance the protection or sustainable use of diverse plants, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Shafqat Kakakhel, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme, pointed to the consequences of climate change in Kenya. Tourism there had brought 700 million dollars in foreign exchange.
'You can imagine what happens when wild animals disappear there,' he said.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur