EP Demands Reinforced Protection of Wildlife
On 5 October 2022, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution on the fight against illegal trade in wildlife fauna and flora. It lays down the EP's position on the EU's strategic objectives for the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama from 14 to 25 November 2022.
The EP stressed that, despite the fact that human activity is directly responsible for the unprecedented global decline in biodiversity, it is still possible to stop and reverse current trends in biodiversity loss. Concerns were voiced over the growth of the market for exotic pets and over the range of affected species, both within the EU and internationally. MEPs wished to go further than reducing illegal trade in CITES-listed wildlife species and eliminate it altogether, so that there would only be legal and sustainable trade in wild fauna and flora by 2025.
The MEPs also emphasised that the 2019 global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) identified a series of weaknesses in CITES, such as compliance and the enforcement of bans and restrictions on trade in protected species, due to a lack of capacity and resources dedicated by the parties. There is a need for science-based quotas combating corruption and demanding reduction. MEPs also called the EU and its Member States to adopt strict measures, including dissuasive sanctions, if countries do not comply with CITES, namely when it is found that a party is undermining the effectiveness of the Convention and not effectively stopping illegal or unsustainable exploitation and trade.
Moreover, efforts are needed to stop the involvement of organised crime groups. As a result, transnational wildlife crime should be recognised as serious organised crime under the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC). Additionally, the EU Member States must strengthen cross-border cooperation and coordination with various relevant international authorities and institutions. Lastly, the EP encouraged the revision and continuation of the EU action plan against wildlife trafficking.