González: economic development and biodiversity protection can go hand in hand

11 July 2014
ITC News
ITC’s Executive Director tells participants at CITES meeting that wildlife trade can provide positive economic opportunities for rural communities

Sustainable economic development and biodiversity conservation can, and must, go hand in hand. That was the message from Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha González to delegates attending the 65th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) standing committee held in Geneva on 10 July 2014.

Ms. González, who was speaking at a side-event hosted by the ITC, pointed out that, while wildlife trade represents huge livelihood opportunities for low-income groups in rural areas of developing countries, increasing consumer demand may lead to unsustainable harvest practices and foster illegal trade.

Ms. González stated that ITC aims to improve transparency in the trade, improve sustainability of supply and increase incomes for collectors and farmers. She said that ITC will analyse the wildlife value chains to increase public awareness about sustainability and the livelihoods of those involved in the trade. Ms. González stressed that work on capacity building for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and their suppliers in communities is necessary to help them meet standards needed to sell and export goods and services.

Hubert Wieland of the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations lent his support to Ms. González’s statement, pointing to interventions by ITC that had helped turn his country into a hotspot for biodiversity and an exporter of organic super foods. Mr. Wieland added that ITC had helped Peruvian SMEs by facilitating market intelligence and connecting producers to work together in order to be able to export.

Meanwhile, Helen Crowley of Kering, the French multinational who owns Gucci, spoke of the private sector’s interest in their impact of biodiversity. Ms. Crowley, who heads Kering’s sustainability efforts, stressed that ITC is crucial in facilitating the information that the private sector needs to build supply chains and ensure sustainable production.

Ms. González underscored the importance of the partnership between ITC and CITES, saying that it enables both organizations to combine their ‘respective knowledge base and networks in trade and biodiversity to meet a common objective of improving the sustainable use and trade’.

CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon reiterated that the collaboration between the two organizations allows them to maximize the benefits of wildlife trade in rural communities. Through the partnership, he said, ITC and CITES will be working together to ensure wildlife trade is not penalized, but instead regulated so that poorer communities can reap the benefits of added value in global trade.