CITES, which stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is an international agreement between governments administered through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The agreement was officially signed in March of 1973, for regulating the trade of species, with an overall goal of supporting biodiversity. There are currently over 36,000 species of plants and animals listed under the protection of CITES.
A country that chooses to implement CITES is referred to as a “Party” and is required to designate a Management Authority and Scientific Authority for carrying out the treaty. CITES Parties developed a permit system for international trade to help ensure it is done sustainably and legally while also being traceable. Species protected by CITES are listed under one of three Appendices, with each Appendix providing a different level of regulation. Listings under Appendix I receive the highest level of protection, which includes restrictions on commercial trade. Examples of Appendix I species include sea turtles, gorillas, and most lady slipper orchids.
Vietnam is a CITES Party and has recently sent six proposals before the annual conference seeking support to protect certain turtles, salamanders, geckos, and toadfishes. These animals are becoming threatened due to their increasing international trade, which is often for the pet trade and for meeting the exotic food demand in Asia. The purpose of Vietnam’s proposals is to promote the conservation of these species and also to promote cooperation with other countries that struggle with wildlife smuggling. Specifically, Vietnam seeks to move box, pond, and golden box turtles from Appendix II to Appendix I, as their threat for extinction has increased. Vietnam also joins China and the European Union with particular proposals in recommending the inclusion of 13 species of geckos and species of toadfishes under Appendix II.
This year, CITES’ 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) will start on May 23, 2019, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Hosting 183 Parties representing non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and intergovernmental organizations, the conference allows the Parties to review progress for the conservation of the species that are listed under CITES’ Appendices. During this time, Parties also review proposals for amending the species list.
Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the United Nations Ravinatha Aryasinha stated, “As a country with rich biological diversity, Sri Lanka is fully committed to the implementation of the CITES provisions to ensure sustainable trade that takes into account the conservation of wild fauna and flora essential for a healthy and prosperous economy.”