Using trade to support sustainable use of wildlife

22 May 2015
ITC News
New ITC publication provides framework for improving biodiversity and rural livelihoods from trade.

A study by the International Trade Centre (ITC) published today on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity highlights the role that trade can play in the conservation of flora and fauna whilst supporting local livelihoods.

The study ‘The Trade in Wildlife – a Framework to Improve Biodiversity and Livelihood Outcomes’, developed in partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), finds that wildlife can be used in a sustainable way if certain conditions are in place. These include having strong economic incentives for rural communities to benefit from the trade.

The combined pressures of climate change, rising incomes and population growth is putting the sustainable management of flora and fauna under threat in many places of the world. This is having negative impacts on the poor.

Biodiversity is often described as the ‘GDP of the poor’, given the reliance of marginal rural communities on natural resources for food, medicines, cash income and shelter. Ensuring that communities benefit from the trade in these resources is key to their sustainable use.

Furthermore, despite these pressures, trade can support the sustainable harvest of biodiversity and natural resources. The study highlights the trade in vicuna wool and crocodile skins as successful examples of communities benefiting from a sustainable and legal trade. The analysis sets out the role of policies, property rights, supply-chain governance and consumers in determining sustainable use of the world’s wildlife, and ensuring greater income streams to the communities involved in its management.

The study is in line with ITC’s commitment to mainstream environmental considerations into Aid for Trade. In particular, ITC aims to support the greening of international value chains, ensuring greater participation of the rural poor, strengthening climate resilience and improving the sustainability of sourcing of natural resources.

The study will be presented to policymakers and researchers at an international symposium organized by the University of Kent and ITC on 18-19 June in Canterbury, United Kingdom, entitled ‘Towards a sustainable and legal wildlife trade’. The symposium will discuss the evidence of successful models of sustainable use in the trade in wildlife.

Download The Trade in Wildlife – a Framework to Improve Biodiversity and Livelihood Outcomes 

Learn more about ITC’s Trade and Environment programme.