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CITES and livelihoods

Document type
Reference number
(Rev. CoP17)
Feb 24, 2017
Wild species & ecosystems
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Mar 3, 1973)
Rev. CoP17

RECALLING Resolution Conf. 8.3 (Rev. CoP13), adopted at the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Bangkok, 2004), where the Conference recognized that implementation of CITES-listing decisions should take into account potential impacts on the livelihoods of the poor;

RECALLING ALSO Decision 15.5 requesting the Standing Committee to continue the operation of its Working Group on CITES and Livelihoods and to finalize the toolkit for the rapid assessment at the national level of the positive and negative impacts of implementing CITES-listing decisions on the livelihoods of the poor, as well as voluntary guidelines for Parties to address the negative impacts;

NOTING that these two documents were prepared by the Working Group on CITES and Livelihoods (information document CoP16 Inf. 21);

RECOGNIZING that CITES-listing decisions are neither the sole cause of nor the sole solution to the livelihood problems of the rural communities1, but that the effective implementation of such decisions can form part of a strategy to provide sustainable livelihoods for rural communities, consistent with paragraph 203 of the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference The Future We Want;

WELCOMING the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the resolution on Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife, which, among other things, strongly encourages Member States to support the livelihoods of rural communities through “the full engagement of the communities in and adjacent to wildlife habitats as active partners in conservation and sustainable use, enhancing the rights and capacity of the members of such communities to manage and benefit from wildlife”;

WELCOMING also the adoption of Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with target adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit (New York, September 2015). Many of the 17 Goals and 169 Targets in the SDGs are relevant to CITES, but in particular, 15.c aimed to “enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities” and Target 15.7 to “take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna, and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products”, mindful of the integrated and indivisible nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals;

WELCOMING further United Nations Environment Assembly resolutions 1/3 and 2/14 on illegal trade in wildlife;

RECOGNIZING that poor rural communities may attach economic, social, cultural and ceremonial importance to some CITES-listed species;

RECOGNIZING that the implementation of CITES is better achieved with the engagement of rural communities, especially those which are traditionally dependent on CITES-listed species for their livelihoods;

RECOGNIZING that the implementation of CITES listings may enhance livelihoods by delivering long term species conservation and reducing unsustainable and illegal trade;

RECOGNIZING ALSO that implementation of some listings (particularly Appendix-I listings) may impact livelihoods of rural communities by restricting access to income, employment and other resources, such as food, materials and medicines, but that it need not always do so if appropriate implementation strategies are adopted; and

RECOGNIZING that livelihoods issues and the present Resolution do not pertain to the criteria for the amendment of the Appendices or the requirement to make non-detriment findings;


1. RECOMMENDS the following to be considered when Parties address livelihood issues: Regarding empowerment of rural communities
2. ENCOURAGES Parties to work with key stakeholder groups to design, implement and monitor effective strategies with regard to the implementation of CITES listings, recognizing that:
a) solutions are likely to be case- and situation-specific;
b) although amendments to the CITES Appendices must, unless indicated otherwise in an annotation, come into effect 90 days after their adoption by the Conference of the Parties, developing appropriate solutions to mitigate negative impacts on the livelihoods of rural communities may require more time to implement relevant policy changes;
c) developing guidelines is an ongoing process as more knowledge is gained about specific impacts, and successful as well as unsuccessful experiences, which means that the monitoring and evaluation of strategies will be priority aspects in the development of appropriate implementation strategies and policies; and
d) community and traditional knowledge should be considered, as appropriate and in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and national laws, regulations and policies; and


a) empowerment of rural communities should be encouraged through measures that include, as appropriate:
i) promoting transparency and participation of rural communities in the development and implementation of national CITES-related policies;
ii) maximizing the benefits for rural communities of CITES implementation and trade concerned, in particular to support poverty eradication;
iii) promoting associations of primary users of wildlife, however they are defined; and
iv) recognizing resource tenure and ownership, and traditional knowledge of or in rural communities associated with CITES-listed species, subject to any applicable national or international law;

b) support for the implementation of CITES listings should be enhanced by public awareness and education, including programmes for rural communities, to ensure that:
i) the positive aspects of CITES and related legislation are understood;
ii) CITES-listed species are conserved, and potential benefits to rural communities realized; and
iii) communities support policies and activities designed to reduce or eliminate illegal trade in specimens of CITES-listed species; and

c) as implementation of some listings may have short-term negative impacts on rural communities, mitigation strategies should be adopted as appropriate. These strategies may include:
i) providing assistance, including short-term financial support, to rural communities most severely affected by the implementation of the CITES-listing decisions; and

ii) promoting alternatives to rural communities to enhance the effective implementation of CITES-listing decisions, for instance:
A income-generation approaches, such as payment for ecosystem services, sustainable tourism, employment in eco-tourism or as game wardens; and
B licences or concessions for tourism, hunting, fishing and harvesting; and the development of alternative products;

Regarding enabling policies

4. INVITES Parties to initiate or strengthen collaborative partnerships among local, regional, national and international development and conservation agencies to enhance:
a) financial support for wildlife conservation and rural communities; and
b) the complementarity of their work and CITES implementation;
5. INVITES Parties to explore the use of registered marks of certification and origin consistent with CITES provisions; and
6. INVITES international financial institutions and cooperation agencies to assist Parties in the development of supportive policies and institutions at the regional, national and local levels to address impacts of the implementation of listings on rural communities;

Regarding engagement of rural communities in combating illegal trade in wildlife

7. URGES Parties to:
a) in line with the internationally adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and with specific reference to Goal 15, enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities;
b) enable the rights of indigenous and local communities and support livelihood options contributing to the conservation of wildlife as an integral part of the response to address illegal trade in wildlife;
c) strengthen community voices, actively supporting them to be involved in decision-making surrounding action to combat international illegal trade in wildlife and to derive benefits from conserving wildlife;
d) support a mechanism for communities affected by international illegal trade in wildlife to learn from each other and to have their voices heard in international policy fora;
e) build and enhance partnerships to combat international illegal trade in wildlife through encouraging the development of partnerships between communities, conservation non-governmental organizations and law enforcement agencies in tackling international illegal trade in wildlife; and
f) strengthen the evidence base for community engagement through building knowledge and understanding about the motivations for, drivers of, dynamics of, and responses to illegal international trade in wildlife;

Regarding the potential shift from in situ to ex situ production
a) ex situ production may lead to loss of revenues for rural communities;
b) positive incentives to promote in situ production systems may encourage benefits for these communities; and

c) cooperation between exporting and importing countries may include:
i) working with in situ and ex situ producers and trade associations; and
ii) conservation and development projects;
9. RECOMMENDS that Parties adopt mitigation strategies for human-wildlife conflict with respect to CITES-listed species; and
10. RECOMMENDS ALSO that mitigation activities tak