Opening address at the ITC-CITES side event `Supporting livelihoods through sustainable use of biodiversity´ (en)

10 julio 2014
ITC Noticias

Speech by the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre at the ITC-CITES side event ‘Supporting livelihoods through sustainable use of biodiversity’ the 65th meeting of the CITES standing committee 10 July 2014, Geneva


Welcome to this side event jointly convened by ITC and the CITES Secretariat on the occasion of the 65th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee. I extend my appreciation to the CITES Secretary General John Scanlon for his continued support in this important partnership.

This year, the International Trade Centre celebrates its 50th year as the focal point in the UN System for trade-related technical assistance for small and medium enterprises in developing countries. ITC builds capacity in SMEs to help them compete more successfully in the global market place. We do this by improving the policy environment, building institutions and connecting SMEs to markets.

An important component of this is ensuring sustainable economic development, one that contributes to protecting and preserving the environment and biodiversity. The relationship between trade and the environment is a key area of focus for ITC.

ITC views the trade in biodiversity as a potential double edged sword.

  • Trade represents huge livelihood opportunities for low income groups in rural areas across the developing world. 
  • However, increasing consumer demand may drive unsustainable harvest practices and foster illegal trade. The latter in particular is driving certain species to the edge of extinction.

ITC’s contribution to the field of biodiversity is focused on improving the sustainable use and the livelihood benefits of trade. Our work will result in improved transparency in the trade, improved sustainability of supply and increased incomes for collectors and farmers.

The Letter of Agreement between the ITC and CITES signed in January of this year provides a framework for cooperation between the two agencies. It enables us to combine our respective knowledge base and networks in trade and biodiversity to meet a common objective of improving the sustainable use and trade in CITES listed species.

ITC is working in two clear ways towards this objective. Firstly, we are analysing wildlife value chains that are of relevance to CITES Parties and the Secretariat. Through this we increase public awareness about sustainability and about the livelihoods of those involved in the trade. This neutral analysis enables stakeholders in both the public policy space, like here at CITES, but also the private sector to make better informed decisions about how to regulate trade for more sustainable and equitable outcomes.

In 2012 ITC in partnership with International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Traffic published a study looking at the trade in python skins. The study highlighted the huge value of the trade, over USD1 billion, and the livelihood benefits. But it also pointed to problems relating to illegality, animal welfare and sustainable management. The study supported CITES processes, most notably the work of the Snake Working Group that advises the CITES Animal and Standing Committees.

Since the publication of this study, ITC has formed a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Kering, the world’s largest fashion holding company and with IUCN in order to address sustainability issues raised in the report. At a side event here during this week, The Python Conservation Partnership shared an update on its work in particular how it is directing new investment to improve traceability, animal welfare and sustainable management. ITC’s contribution to the partnership is to conduct research to understand livelihood benefits and needs at the local level and to design capacity building needs for exporters and processors. Early results of the survey show that hundreds of families benefit from the trade and intend to expand their business in a sustainable way.

ITC will continue to develop these PPPs to deliver on our mission of Trade Impact for Good. Where well designed, these partnerships have the potential to leverage new resources for biodiversity. This is why I am reaching out to the conservation community to discuss ways in which we can better synergise our respective expertise. The Python Conservation Programme is a fine model that we can replicate.

The second area of work is capacity building support to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and their suppliers in communities. MSMEs often face strict market requirements to enter international markets. These relate to standards and regulations in importing countries. ITC works with MSMEs to help them meets these standards.

In Peru, we have supported exporters of natural products such as to turn sustainably sourced "superfoods," such as sacha inchi, cat’s claw and maca, into export successes. These products have gained world-wide fame for their health benefits and through that, they have provided rural Peruvians with increased incomes. ITC’s assistance in obtaining Generally Recognized as Safe, or “GRAS” certification for sacha inchi oil, has opened the door to the US market to thousands of smallholders.

We are now extending this model of support and capacity building to exporters of quinoa, an iconic agro- biodiversity crop, and we are further working with Peru to strengthen community cooperatives that harvest and process the wool of vicuna, a CITES Appendix II listed species. These interventions will improve market access and thus incomes for smallholders in impoverished rural areas in a sustainable manner.

We are also developing a project with the Ministry of Environment in Madagascar, one of the few mega-diverse countries in the world. We are working with the CITES Management Authority to design a project to support the market development of Nile crocodiles skin trade. Our CITES colleague from Madagascar will speak further about this today. This is another example of how sustainable use of a species can support livelihoods of many rural poor.

In closing let me thank the Secretariat for being open to this innovative partnership to build bridges between the trade and environment communities. I would also like to thank the Management and Scientific Authorities and expert groups like IUCN for working with ITC in designing projects that help meet the common goal of improving sustainability in wildlife value chains while increasing community livelihood benefits of trade. The notion of a “greener economy” is central to the work of the ITC. Just last month we officially launched our Environmental Mainstreaming Strategy to ensure that each of our projects and interventions have a ‘green component’ and respect for the environment.
I wish you a successful event