- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
World Wildlife Day
What to study?
- For Prelims: Significance of World Wildlife Day, themes, CITES.
- For Mains: Significance, performance and potential of these conventions.
Context: World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3rd.
Theme: ‘Life below Water: for People and Planet’.
The theme aligns with goal 14 of UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Significance of oceans:
- The ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may be in the millions.
- Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP.
- Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. Marine wildlife has sustained human civilization and development for millennia, from providing food and nourishment, to material for handicraft and construction. It has also enriched our lives culturally, spiritually, and recreationally in different ways.
Concerns and the need for conservation:
- The capacity of life below water to provide these services is severely impacted, as our planet’s oceans and the species that live within it are under assault from an onslaught of threats.
- As much as 40% of the ocean is now heavily affected by the most significant and direct threat of over exploitation of marine species as well as other threats such as pollution, loss of coastal habitats and climate change.
- These threats have a strong impact on the lives and livelihoods of those who depend on marine ecosystem services, particularly women and men in coastal communities.
On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international regulatory treaty between 183 party states.
It was formed in 1973 and regulates the international trade in over 35,000 wild species of plants and animals.
The focus of the convention is not solely on the protection of species. It also promotes controlled trade that is not detrimental to the sustainability of wild species.
How does CITES work?
The convention works primarily through a system of classification and licensing.
Wild species are categorised in Appendices I to III. This often reflects species’ threat status on the Red List of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species first created in 1964.
- Appendix I prohibits trade in species classified as highly endangered.
- Appendix II allows trade under very specific conditions. This requires exporting countries obtain a permit, but not the importing country.
- Appendix III species require only a certificate of origin to be traded.
National CITES management authorities may issue permits once scientific authorities show non-detriment findings. In other words, scientific evidence must demonstrate that species sustainability will not be adversely affected by trade. Where data is lacking, the precautionary principle applies.
CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.