4 October 2022, Apia - Pacific island nations are meeting in Apia, Samoa, to discuss priorities leading up to the Nineteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP 19) to be held in Panama in November this year
CITES is an important multilateral agreement between governments with the objective to ensure that the international trade of wild flora and fauna does not threaten their survival and maintains those species at a level consistent with their role in ecosystems.
The Oceania Preparatory Meeting for CITES COP 19 from 4 – 7 October 2022 is an opportunity for Pacific nations to identify and discuss issues for Oceania, and specifically to review and debate issues of concern to the Pacific.
The COP this year is especially important for the Pacific region as there will again be a focus on marine species with proposed listings for sharks and sea cucumbers and further discussions on marine turtles. Many of these species have also been identified as targeted by illegal trade in the Pacific.
The Chief Executive Officer for Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Ms Lealaisalanoa Frances Reupena-Brown notes the role of legally binding agreements to safeguard our Pacific species.
“International trade in wildlife is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually. Trade is diverse from live animals to medicines. CITES provides varying degrees of protection to more than 37,000 species. In Oceania, many are also of significant cultural importance such as turtles and sharks, which face many threats including illegal trade,” she said.
In the preparatory meeting participants are engaging with members of the CITES Standing Committee, Animals and Plants Committee and technical experts. A representative of the CITES Secretariat, Ms Hyeon Jeong Kim, is also in Samoa to help Pacific nations prepare for the CITES COP in Panama.
She highlighted the importance of the COP this year for Pacific nations, saying: “Many of the agenda items are important for this region, with a focus on sharks, rays and turtles as well as several marine proposals to be considered.”
Global experts on sharks and rays and sea cucumbers have been providing detailed information about the new Appendix II listing proposals to assist Parties to better understand the reasons for the proposed listings and to make their own assessments.
The preparatory meeting is organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with funding support from the ACP MEA Phase 3 and BIEM projects. Deputy Director General, Ms Easter Chu Shing reiterated SPREP support to Pacific island countries to raise the profile of Pacific issues and priorities at conference of parties to various multilateral environment agreements.
“It is through these preparatory meetings that we are able to bring together countries through the sharing of information and exchanging of views. This preparatory meeting also provides an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen our collective participation at COP19,” Ms Chu Sing said, noting that Pacific island countries have shown great leadership and confidence in advocating their priorities and interests to achieve positive outcomes for the region at these global forums.
The Oceania Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Nineteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is held in Samoa from 4 – 7 October 2022. SPREP Members attending the Ocean Regional Preparatory Meeting are: Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The Meeting is coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the CITES Secretariat, New Zealand and Australian CITES officials funded through the ACP MEA Phase 3 Project junded by the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribben and Pacific States for the ACP countries and the By-catch and Integrated Ecosystem Management (BIEM) Initiative of the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden.and the Pacific Bioscapes Programme also funded by the European Union.
Pacific Islands Parties to CITES are Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. To learn more about CITES please visit https://cites.org/eng