Expert workshop promoting cites-cbd cooperation and synergy international Academy for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm, Germany

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Final Draft 14th May 2004

International Academy for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm, Germany

20-24 April 2004



The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are amongst the most widely accepted and well-known international biodiversity related agreements. The two Conventions address international concerns about biodiversity loss. Each reflects the period in which they were developed in both their focus and in their approach.

CITES rose out of concern during the 1970s that the international wildlife trade was driving numerous species to extinction, taking the view that strong controls on international trade were required in order to address this threat. Nearly 20 years later, CBD was created to address the use of and threats to biodiversity more widely, and includes development as well as conservation concerns. It includes a specific objective related to “the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” and related provisions regarding access to genetic resources.
Studies of the relationships between the two Conventions indicate that the overall goals of CITES and the CBD, while not identical, are broadly compatible. In particular, both Conventions are concerned with ensuring that the use of wild species is sustainable. Given CITES’ powerful and specific trade measures and the comprehensive policy remit of CBD, implementation of both Conventions should be mutually beneficial. In fact, CITES trade provisions provide a potential vehicle for managing trade in fauna and flora in the context of achieving CBD-related goals. Equally, CBD provides a potential vehicle for supporting the conservation and sustainable use of CITES-listed species. In a wider context, both Conventions can contribute to the target agreed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development of achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss. The CBD COP has established goals and sub-targets for focal areas in order to help assess progress towards the 2010 target. One of these refers directly to international trade (Target 4.3: “No species of wild flora or fauna endangered by international trade”).
Several mechanisms have been established to promote greater co-operation in the implementation of CITES and CBD at the international level. These have included agreement of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Convention Secretariats, references to the respective Convention within various decisions and resolutions, and in the case of CITES, adoption of a specific resolution devoted to co-operation and synergy with CBD. However, thus far there has been relatively little interaction among the various Convention decision making or implementing processes.
As at the international level, there are numerous opportunities for co-operation in the implementation of CITES and CBD at the national level. The level of co-operation among agencies responsible for implementing these Conventions varies from country to country, but in general, it would appear that there are significant opportunities for increased collaboration.
Convening of an Expert Workshop Promoting CITES-CBD Cooperation and Synergy
The importance of encouraging greater cooperation between CITES and CBD was highlighted in discussions among TRAFFIC, ResourceAfrica, IUCN – The World Conservation Union and Flora & Fauna International (FFI), who agreed to cooperate in the convening of an expert workshop on this issue.
The proposed workshop received significant initial support from the Government of Germany German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). Financial support was also provided by UNEP, the UK Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and WWF Germany. The Government of Germany offered to host the meeting at BfN’s International Academy for Nature Conservation on the Isle of Vilm, Germany.
The workshop, which took place from 20-24 April 2004, was organised by a Steering Committee, including representatives from TRAFFIC (Chair), FFI, IUCN – The World Conservation Union, BfN and GTZ. UNEP and the CITES and CBD Secretariats had an active and supportive role in shaping the workshop.
The workshop was designed to:

  • Provide for a free and full discussion of CITES and CBD compatibility and complementarity

  • Identify areas of possible synergy, and mechanisms by which such synergy could be developed;

  • Produce a clear set of recommended actions aimed at improving the ability of both Conventions to achieve their goals; and

  • Enable communication of these outcomes to a wider audience in a way likely to prompt a positive response within the implementing processes of both Conventions.

Participants were drawn from a broad range of experts from governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental backgrounds active in the processes of one or both Conventions. A participant list is attached as Annex 1. In order to support the goal of free and full discussions, participants were invited in their individual rather than institutional capacities, and the workshop convened in the spirit of “Chatham House Rules.” This and other aspects of the workshop greatly benefited from the facilitation provided by Tom Hammond of IUCN – The World Conservation Union.


The workshop combined a series of plenary presentations and discussions with working groups focusing on specific priority areas identified during the workshop by the participants. Plenary presentations were made on the following topics:

  • UNEP’s role in promoting cooperation and synergy between the biodiversity related conventions (Robert Hepworth)

  • CITES-CBD synergy – perspectives from CITES (Marceil Yeater)

  • CITES-CBD synergy – perspectives from CBD (Markus Lehmann)

  • Relating the operational structures and decision-making of the two conventions (Martin Jenkins)

  • Potential links between CBD framework tools and CITES (Tomme Young)

  • CITES and CBD approaches to the trade in wild animal species used for meat and other animal products (Teresa Mulliken)

  • CITES non-detriment findings and CBD sustainable use principles (Alison Rosser)

  • The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation as an example of increasing CITES-CBD synergy (Sara Oldfield)

  • Access and benefit sharing, potential for mutual supportiveness between CITES and CBD implementation (Victoria Lichtschein)

In addition, case studies on CITES-CBD implementation were provided for the following countries:

  • Bolivia (Mario Baudoin)

  • Canada (Carolina Caceres)

  • Colombia (Sarah Hernandez)

  • India (Shekhar Kumar Niraj)

  • Madagascar (Claudine Ramiarison)

  • Seychelles (Josef Francois)


Workshop participants agreed that there was a need to increase cooperation and synergies in the operations of CITES and CBD at the national and international level. Many added that a personal goal for attending the workshop was to increase their knowledge of the Conventions and achieve better synergies in their own work. They noted that convening a process to address this issue outside the formal structures of the Conventions provided a new and potentially useful approach.

They made a number of general observations:

  • There are differences between the Conventions:

    • CBD is a framework Rio Convention

    • CITES is a regulatory pre-Rio Convention

  • Nonetheless, the two share much common ground, which should be built on

  • Increased collaboration incurs costs as well as providing benefits

    • Care should be taken that the latter exceed the former

    • Specific problems to be solved should be identified

  • Collaboration and/or synergy should take place at the following levels:

    • National

    • Regional

    • International – through Convention institutions and processes (not only the Secretariats)

  • A pragmatic, practical approach should be adopted, using and supporting existing tools where possible

  • Targets and indicators provide a useful focus

They also noted that while synergy was undoubtedly desirable, there were a number of actual or potential divergences between the two Conventions or obstacles to achieving synergy. These included:

  • Different perceptions and approaches under the two Conventions

  • The need for mandates from both Convention COPs, for initiatives arising from one Convention potentially involving the other

  • Lack of resources

  • Lack of continuity or stability in national and international institutions

  • Lack of appropriate national legislation

  • Ex-situ commercial captive breeding, conservation benefits and benefit-sharing

The group identified a series of mechanisms for achieving greater synergy and/or overcoming actual or potential obstacles as well as a number of potential areas of synergy (including areas where both Conventions have common goals).

Identified mechanisms were:

  • Institutional and other mechanisms for coordination at national level

  • Comprehensive implementation of CBD Article 6 through NBSAPs, legislation and other national strategy plans

  • Case studies leading to best practice guidelines

  • Capacity building, such as training and exchange of experiences

  • Improved information transfer nationally and internationally

  • Improved coordination of representation at Convention meetings

  • Biodiversity-related MEA liaison group

  • Proposed Global Partnership on biodiversity

  • Biodiversity Clearing-House Mechanism

  • UNEP

  • Existing decisions and resolutions, MoU and Joint Work Plan

  • Potential development of a more consistent global regime for MEAs

Initially identified areas of potential synergy were:

  • Sustainable use (including the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines, CITES Article IV, non-detriment findings, the Significant Trade process, adaptive management, policy and incentives)

  • Reporting

  • The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

  • The 2010 World Summit on Sustainable Development biodiversity target

  • GEF funding

  • Incentives for research and monitoring

  • The Ecosystem Approach

  • Invasive Alien Species

  • Access and Benefit Sharing

  • Coordination of CBD with conservation of CITES-listed species

  • Coordination of area-based systems of management with species-based systems of management

  • Relationship with other processes and agreements

  • Taxonomy

  • Compliance and enforcement

  • Labelling and Green Certification

  • Licensing procedures

  • Wild meat and other NWFPs

  • The Millennium Development Goals

After discussion, the group formed working groups on the following topics:

  • Sustainable use

  • Access and benefit sharing

  • Linking site and species-based approaches and coordination of CBD with conservation of CITES-listed species

In addition efforts were made to capture the group’s thinking on other potential areas of synergy for subsequent presentation to the group as a whole for further discussion and elaboration of the way forward.

Many of the issues discussed were the subject of vigorous and lively debate. Strenuous efforts were made to achieve consensus. This was achieved in almost all cases. However, not all participants necessarily agree with all the statements made here and in a very small number of cases a strongly dissenting view is held by a very few. On the basis of these discussions participants have agreed that the following observations, suggestions and conclusions are put forward.

Concrete proposals for some cross-cutting mechanisms identified during the workshop

For several of the topics discussed, it was proposed that information be collected through, for example, case studies and collection of best practices and such information disseminated. As a way to do this, each COP at its next meeting could ask Parties, IGOs, NGOs and other stakeholders to submit examples of best practices and other experiences related to improving the coherent implementation of both CITES and CBD and make those widely available. These best practices could deal with examples of national coordination, concrete project implementation and so forth in different areas of synergy.

Based on these submissions and other relevant information (for example outputs from expert workshops), both Secretariats could collaborate with other partners to identify some main lessons learned, and develop advice or guidance to Parties and other organizations in implementing activities that are mutually supportive of the objectives of both Conventions and that improve their coherent implementation. This could be discussed at each COP during its next session.
Another issue identified by participants was the need for institutional cooperation at international level, for example when participating in other fora including those concerned with fundraising. One way to achieve this is through the part of CBD COP decision VII/26 dealing with the proposed liaison group between biodiversity MEAs, intended to enhance coherence and cooperation in the implementation of the biodiversity commitments. Participants therefore suggest that the CITES Secretariat respond positively to this and join the liaison group. This liaison group would increase collaboration among several biodiversity MEAs as well as enhance a joint position of CBD and CITES with regard to other organizations such as WTO and FAO but also on issues such as fundraising and the GEF.
It was also widely noted that the development of complementary CITES and CBD national legislation (through, for example, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans) should be encouraged.
In addition to these cross-cutting mechanisms, many specific measures or mechanisms were proposed to cover specific issues or areas of synergy.

Sustainable use

CITES and CBD have a shared goal of biodiversity conservation. Both CITES and CBD need tools and strategies to achieve the sustainable use of biodiversity and, since their work overlaps and is complementary, need to share their experiences and develop these tools together. This should lead to effective and efficient implementation of their respective requirements at various levels.

Changes desired to achieve synergies in sustainable use

  • Higher priority should be given to synergies and collaboration both at the national and international level.

  • Strengthening of sustainable development and benefits for local communities in the CITES context, and strengthening of species conservation issues in the CBD context. Both of these need to occur at the national and international level

  • Improvement in communication

  • More effective implementation of CITES non-detriment findings, and more effective deployment of sustainable-use tools in CBD

  • Development of integrated management for sustainable use and conservation of species

  • Parties to CBD and CITES and Convention bodies should interpret their respective mandates in a manner that facilitates cooperation

Methods & mechanisms to enhance synergy between CITES and CBD, for sustainable use

National level

  • In order to achieve more coherent government policy there should be: more coordination at national level, more interaction, collaboration, information sharing, review of decisions between national focal points

  • National focal points should be encouraged to be part of the implementing ministry; closer relationships should be developed between CITES and CBD staff

  • There should be cooperation for capacity building at national level

  • Funding should be sought to facilitate national coordination through the FAO National Forest Programme Facility

  • National biodiversity strategies and action plans (through appropriate line ministry) should recognize the overlaps between the concepts of non-detriment and sustainable use & incorporate wildlife trade policy into their strategies

  • Synergy should be promoted at national level through reviewing the need for improvement of legislation and other policy instruments and mechanisms, and institutions

COP level

  • CITES COP 13 should establish a process to examine the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines, the Ecosystem Approach and environmental assessment guidelines and consider which elements might be incorporated into non-detriment findings and other provisions of CITES

  • CITES should consider adopting the CBD definition of sustainable use as a working definition

  • CITES should invite CBD to provide further guidance to GEF in implementation of CBD Target 4.3

  • CBD should invite CITES to provide input and guidance with respect to CBD decisions relevant to sustainable use

  • CITES COP 13 and CBD COP 8 should take these issues forward

Technical Committees (CBD SBSTTA, CITES Animals and Plants Committees)

  • Technical committees should interact and work together, and develop joint programmes of work

  • Technical committees should collaborate on the development of indicators of sustainability

  • CITES should be involved at national and international level, with regard to indicators for assessing progress in implementation of the CBD strategic plan; relevant issues should be included on the agendas of the CITES technical committees

  • Holistic country-based Significant Trade processes should be encouraged (also for CITES COP to discuss).

  • There should be a mechanism to source or commission work by the CITES Committees, to provide information and case studies to CBD


  • The CBD Secretariat should explore how these issues can be taken forward to CBD COP8

  • There should be institutional coordination (CITES and CBD) at the international level when participating in other fora (e.g., WTO, ITTO, CPF)

  • The two Conventions should cooperate on fundraising

  • The CBD Executive Secretary should be asked to ensure that CITES issues are addressed in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests through a wild species initiative and to explore the possibility of including participation of the CITES Secretariat

  • The Convention Secretariats should create materials and form associations with universities, for tertiary education

  • CBD and CITES should collaborate in assessing how policy instruments and mechanisms, in particular land and resource tenure systems, and property rights affect sustainability of species harvest (CITES-listed species)

  • Overlaps and commonalities between the CITES checklist for non-detriment findings and CBD sustainable use principles should be examined

  • The joint work plan should be updated to incorporate the above

All levels

  • CITES and CBD should develop joint work plans at the national, regional and international levels

  • CITES should recognize and help test CBD sustainable use principles

  • CITES should recognize issues of sustainable development, equity issues, local management and participation in implementation

  • CBD should give specific attention to CITES-listed species

  • CBD should learn from and consider using CITES tools and history, such as CITES regulatory mechanisms

  • CBD should receive experience from CITES (case studies)

  • There should be increased cooperation on information sharing

  • Case studies should be developed on non-detriment findings and sustainable use, reflecting both positive and negative experiences, along with sample non-detriment findings and adaptive management, and these should be made available, perhaps through a database (consider CHM, GBIF, or other mechanisms), joint publications and joint workshops.

  • CBD should recognize that through the Significant Trade process, CITES works on sustainable harvest at the national level, and encourage collaboration with CBD focal points in this area

  • There should be collaboration at the regional level, which may include making use of UN agencies and other intergovernmental regional offices

  • There should be cooperation to promote awareness, education and public outreach regarding sustainable use

Constraints on the development of effective synergies regarding sustainable use

  • Institutions are constrained by their legal mandates; institutions should endeavour to interpret their mandates differently or change their (national-level) legal mandates

  • Different implementing agencies at both the national and global levels do not work sufficiently together

  • Human and financial resource constraints

  • Apparent lack of political commitment for synergy in some cases

  • Lack of awareness and understanding of the benefits of sustainable use

  • Few documented examples and case studies of sustainable use

  • Lack of common financial strategies and mechanisms

  • Lack of funding for CITES committees to deliver on recommendations

Access and benefit-sharing

Access and benefit-sharing (ABS) is a CBD issue. As such, access and benefit-sharing is not present in CITES. However trade with genetic resources takes place. An international regime on ABS is still in the process of negotiation under CBD.

Changes desired to achieve synergies in ABS

  • There should be mutual support between the Conventions concerning ABS

  • CITES can help ABS implementation under CBD and vice versa

Constraints on achieving synergies in ABS

  • CITES authorities are looking for easier administrative processes to fulfil their duties (with regard to vaccines, tissues, faeces, urine, DNA, cell lines, etc)

  • Actual or potential ABS claims make the CITES process more difficult to implement (e.g. exchange of museum specimens, misinterpretation of ABS by CITES Authorities)

  • Many Parties to CBD lack adequate access legislation for implementing even non-mandatory ABS. Moreover, some countries do not have sufficient national legislation to implement CITES. The relationship between ABS and CITES permitting is therefore not clearly defined

  • There is lack of clarity of treatment of pre-CBD specimens and samples (museum specimens, live species, cell lines, etc.)

  • Presence of illegal specimens of CITES-listed species in circulation (parental stock, cacti seeds, orchids, etc.)

  • Uncertainty about the dimension of worldwide trade in samples of CITES-listed and non-CITES species (legal and illegal)

Methods or mechanisms to achieve synergies in ABS

  • It is critical for CITES implementation authorities and CBD-related authorities at the national level to have a full understanding of ABS issues and how they might be affected by CITES implementation and vice versa. To address this need, joint workshops and capacity-building activities should be undertaken to address key issues including:

      • The nature and role of the Bonn Guidelines

      • The nature of the ABS provision for pre-Convention specimens and the special provisions for botanic gardens, zoos, herbaria and other collections

      • Concerns relating to inconsistencies among or lack of clarity in national CITES and CBD related legislation, and NBSAPS

      • Attempts to distinguish commercial and non-commercial use (comparing CITES and CBD)

      • The nature of enforcement against illegal commercial uses

  • The CITES Parties should recognise the validity of a statement in the CITES permits that a CITES permit is not an ABS certificate

  • The need should be accepted for interim solutions to overcome uncertain situations until CBD ABS provisions are fully implemented

  • CBD should be encouraged to make progress in the creation of internationally recognized certification for ABS

  • Technical CITES committees should be mandated to evaluate the amount and diversity of trade in biological samples derived from CITES species (e.g. stem cells, cell lines, rDNA, etc.) and the kind of use

  • Communication and cooperation between CITES and CBD should be enhanced, not only between Secretariats, but also by more participation of Parties and Technical Committees in dialogue

  • National CITES Authorities should coordinate with CBD/ABS Authorities where CITES permits are potentially relevant to ABS concerns

  • UNEP-WCMC could include in its CITES trade monitoring activities more detailed information regarding new CITES-listed species of trade and share it with CBD

  • WCO should be asked to develop more specific codes for wildlife products

  • Importing and exporting countries should use existing monitoring regulations to assist in detecting trade in non-CITES species

Best practice examples

  • A proposal submitted to CITES COP 11 to exempt certain biological samples for medical research triggered for the first time a consultation process between the CBD and CITES Secretariats to clarify that any decision taken under CITES should be compatible with the obligations of the Parties to CBD

  • International Plant Exchange Network (IPEN) programme of EU Botanical Gardens for exchange of plant material for non commercial purposes1

Linking site-based, thematic and species-based Approaches

CITES is a species-focused convention, whereas CBD combines area and thematic approaches. Both CITES and CBD implementation would benefit from greater linkages aimed at ensuring that both Conventions work in harmony at the global, regional and national level for their mutual and coherent implementation. CITES processes could make a strong contribution to achieving the objectives of the CBD in the context of the design and implementation of its programmes of work and other policy instruments. The CBD could provide critical context to the work of CITES, for example, to supporting recovery of threatened species.


  • Some of those concerned primarily with CITES implementation perceive the CBD as an obstacle or a threat rather than as an asset providing added value

  • Some of those concerned primarily with CBD implementation perceive CITES as irrelevant, if not an obstacle, to achieving CBD objectives

  • Differences between Parties in their perception of the advantages of increased cooperation between CITES and the CBD at the national and international levels

  • Lack of cooperation and coordination at all levels, and particularly the national level

  • Lack of information flow and communication hinders the coherent implementation of both conventions

  • Insufficient institutional capacity, human and financial resources at the national level to achieve more effective synergy

  • Exchange of scientific specimens among researchers is sometimes not supported by the current relationships among the Conventions

Changes desired to achieve synergies

  • CITES implementation benefits from the experiences and knowledge provided from within the CBD

  • CBD processes more effectively integrate CITES related concerns, processes and experience

  • Appendix I listings more effectively support species conservation objectives through being informed by information generated through CBD processes

  • Linkage by CITES to some of the working models developed through the CBD, and processes considering socio-economic as well as biodiversity conservation issues

Methods and mechanisms to enhance synergy

  • Enhance attention to CITES-listed species in designing and implementing CBD programmes of work in support of achieving shared objectives

  • Ensure that site-based CBD-related activities are employed to reinforce CITES-related management and trade controls, especially for Appendix I species

  • Encourage CBD implementing agencies to use CITES listings as a tool for achieving CBD objectives for species in international trade

  • Include the CITES Appendices in the suite of tools used to decide priorities for site-based conservation action, including selection of protected area sites

  • Ensure better information sharing and integration between the decision making processes of SBSTTA and the CITES Animals, Plants and Standing Committees, and the Conferences of the Parties, through, for example, advance consultation on agenda points of common interest, co-meetings of the Committee chairs, etc.

  • Make better use of the CBD Clearing House Mechanism to exchange information and implement actions on matters mutually agreed between both conventions

  • Integrate CITES implementation in the development and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPS)

  • Extract the parts of the thematic programmes of work on CBD relevant to CITES-listed species, and mandate the development of proposals for co-operation based on them, using, the example, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation model and the related partnership

  • Explore the potential for greater use of other partnership approaches

  • Evaluate the potential role of CITES-listed species as indicators under CBD processes, including the 2010 target, and for other purposes

  • Identify recovery actions for threatened species as a priority activity for CBD in applying the ecosystem approach

  • Integrate the Ecosystem Approach and Sustainable Use Principles into CITES capacity-building workshops at the national and regional level

  • Hold CITES/CBD joint ‘synergy workshops’ (with other multi-lateral environmental agreements as relevant) on specific issues

  • Create or make use of national coordination mechanisms between CBD, CITES and other related instruments

  • Recognize the mutual benefit to both conventions of national and international collaboration in research and monitoring

  • Parties to incorporate evidence from CBD processes before considering/deciding on listing proposals

  • Explore the potential for the liaison group of biodiversity conventions to contribute to enhanced CITES-CBD synergies

  • Suggest that critical components of the CITES Strategic Plan and accompanying work plan (e.g. objective 2.12, 4.32 in the current work plan) include appropriate reference to use of specific CBD tools and participation in relevant CBD meetings

  • Recognise the mutual benefits to both conventions of national and international collaboration and stimulate joint research and monitoring efforts

Best practice examples

  • Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum spp.)

  • Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna)

  • Lignum vitae Guaiacum spp.)

  • Markhor (Capra falconeri)


Contribution to the 2010 WSSD biodiversity target

Further to the mission of the Strategic Plan of the CBD adopted by CoP 6, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in its Plan of Implementation agreed that measures should be in place by 2010 to achieve a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss. The purpose of the CITES Strategic Vision through 2005, “to ensure that no species of wild fauna or flora becomes or remains subject to unsustainable exploitation because of international trade”, is clearly consistent with this target.

The WSSD Plan of Implementation further noted that CBD was a key instrument in helping meet the 2010 target. For the purposes of assessing progress towards it and for the future evaluation of progress in the Strategic Plan, the Parties to CBD have agreed a provisional framework for goals and targets.
Participants recognized that there were significant areas of potential synergy between the two Conventions in meeting the WSSD 2010 target. Such synergy would best be achieved through improved coordination and implementation of the two Conventions at national level.
Goal 4 of the CBD provisional framework is “Promote sustainable use and consumption”. There are three targets under this goal:
Target 4.1 Biodiversity-based products derived from sources that are sustainably managed, and production areas managed consistent with the conservation of biodiversity.

Target 4.2 Unsustainable consumption, of biological resources, or that impacts upon biodiversity, reduced.

Target 4.3. No species of wild flora or fauna endangered by international trade.

Suggested methods for improving synergy in meeting the WSSD 2010 biodiversity target

Participants proposed that the CITES COP might consider including a specific reference to the WSSD 2010 target in any Strategic Plan beyond 2005 that it might adopt. It further noted that the part of Target 4.3 in the CBD provisional framework concerning flora was already addressed in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and that it had been recommended that CITES act as the lead coordinating entity in this regard. CITES and CBD should explore possibilities to establish similar processes for wild fauna.

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was agreed by COP 6 of CBD. The Strategy sets out 16 action-oriented targets for the conservation and sustainable use of plant biodiversity to be achieved by 2010. It provides a framework for policy formulation and a basis for monitoring progress in achieving five broad objectives:

  1. Understanding and documenting plant diversity

  2. Conserving plant diversity

  3. Using plant diversity sustainably

  4. Promoting education and awareness about plant diversity

  5. Building capacity for the conservation of plant diversity

GSPC Target 11 is directly linked to CITES. This target states: No species of wild flora endangered by international trade. It is clearly consistent with the main purpose of the CITES Strategic Plan: “To ensure that no species of wild fauna or flora becomes or remains subject to unsustainable exploitation because of international trade”.

In taking forward the GSPC, it has been recommended that CITES act as the lead coordinating agency for the promotion and implementation of Target 11 at a global level. The CITES Plants Committee discussed the issue at its Thirteenth Meeting held in Geneva in August 2003 and agreed that CITES contributes at least in a minor way to most of the 16 Targets of GSPC. Preliminary discussions suggested how CITES could help specifically to deliver Target 11. Subsequently a stakeholder consultation exercise for delivery of this Target was undertaken in early 2004 by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) on behalf of the CITES Plants Committee. COP 7 of CBD welcomed the decision of the Plants Committee to contribute to the work of the GSPC.

Suggested ways of increasing synergy in implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Participants also agreed that GSPC provides an excellent opportunity for synergy between CBD and CITES. They proposed that a clear mandate be sought from the CITES Parties at COP 13 to take forward specific activities for the delivery of GSPC Target 11 in a programme of work coordinated by the CITES Plants Committee with an appropriate budget allocated.

The Ecosystem Approach
The Ecosystem Approach delineates in its 12 principles the way in which conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity should be implemented under the CBD. Their scope incorporates a number of considerations which have not traditionally been considered in CITES but which are important in attaining sustainability. In particular these include taking into account the relationship to local actors (Principles 2 and 12).
Article IV of CITES requires that exports of CITES-listed species must be monitored so as to ensure the role of the species in its ecosystem; therefore CITES provisions already incorporates important elements of the Ecosystem Approach.
Both CBD and CITES are interested in attaining the conservation of biodiversity, but while CBD, through the Ecosystem Approach emphasises the integral nature of sustainable development and conservation problems and their solutions, CITES focuses mainly on a species by species analysis. The Vilm Meeting recognised that the working of CITES is necessary for the generation of benefits from the use of biodiversity, and thus contributes to the attainment of CBD’s goals or objectives.

Suggested ways of increasing synergy through the Ecosystem Approach

The meeting considered that both Conventions would benefit from a higher level of communication on this issue and the development of joint programmes of work in order reduce possible sources of conflict and to increase areas of cooperation.

Invasive Alien Species

Workshop participants recognized that the legal mandate of CITES does not extend to invasive alien species. CITES does not provide a mechanism for controlling international trade in invasive species and it is not possible to add species to the CITES Appendices on the basis of their invasive characteristics. However, there was broad agreement among the participants that mechanisms, information and experience developed under CITES could make an important contribution to national and international efforts to control the international movement of potentially invasive species.

Suggested ways of increasing synergy in dealing with invasive alien species

  • The CITES COP might wish to take note of the CBD’s Guiding Principles on IAS and encourage Parties to consider the Principles in their implementation of CITES.

  • Parties should consider the potential invasiveness of species in making import and export decisions involving live specimens.

  • CITES could review existing Resolutions, for example those on disposal of confiscated live specimens and ranching/ex-situ breeding operations to ensure those resolutions and their implementation take account of invasive species risks.

  • Parties could examine how experience gained and/or mechanisms established to implement wildlife trade controls under CITES could be applied in implementing the recommendations in the CBD Guiding Principles with respect to prevention of species invasions.

  • The CITES Secretariat might prepare a brief analysis of the capacity of CITES to address invasive alien species as a contribution to the work of the CBD’s Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on IAS identifying pathways, as well as gaps and inconsistencies in the international framework relating to invasive alien species.

  • CITES might also accept the offer to collaborate with The Global Invasive Species Programme.

Compliance and enforcement

Participants proposed the initiation of regular exchange of information and experience between CITES and CBD, at the national level, on compliance and enforcement matters. This could then lead to the identification of priorities and mechanisms for practical cooperation in the future.


Recognising the prime importance of taxonomy in the effective operation of both CITES and CBD and observing that there has been a continuing decline in resources allocated, the group proposed investment in this area.

Participants suggested that CITES and CBD collaborate in the identification and support for species-oriented research tools and mechanisms (such as the Global Taxonomy Initiative, CITES Nomenclature programme and products and Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation).

Incentives for research and monitoring

Participants proposed that CITES and CBD cooperate:

  • To assist in implementation of Principle 6 of the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines on Sustainable Use.

  • To support and facilitate collaborative research and monitoring of species and ecosystems by national institutions

  • To help secure the sustainability of local and national institutions working on CITES-listed species and their ecosystems.

Harmonisation of Reporting

Following the recommendations of a workshop in October 2000 attended by eight Convention Secretariats (including CBD and CITES) and convened by UNEP, four pilot projects have been carried out in Ghana, Indonesia, Panama and Seychelles to test a variety of approaches to the harmonisation of national reporting under the biodiversity-related conventions, funded by UNEP2

Eight Conventions and International Programmes (CCD, CITES, CBD, IWC, Ramsar, WHC, Cartagena-SPAW and MAB) were covered by one or more of the pilots. CITES was included in all the pilots and CBD in four of them.
The pilot reports as a whole demonstrated that:

    1. The ‘modular’ approach to harmonised reporting is practical and should be replicable in both developed and developing countries.

    1. As well as facilitating more collaborative working between convention focal points at national level, efficient application of harmonised reporting should also release scarce resources for other conservation-related activities.

    1. Further progress in realising the benefits of harmonised reporting depends on synchronisation of reporting cycles and the development of reporting formats to facilitate the modular approach.

Participants were encouraged that there had at least been some tangible progress on harmonised reporting in the shape of the four pilot reports (available at: It was proposed that:

  • As the next meeting due in the conference cycle, the 13th COP of CITES should be asked to give a clear mandate to allow Parties to meet their biennial reporting obligations under a harmonised format to be agreed with the governing bodies of other biodiversity-related conventions.

  • Successive COPs of CBD and the other biodiversity-related conventions should be asked to meet their reporting obligations under a harmonised format.

  • UNEP should continue to convene and facilitate the process and seek further endorsement for this by governments at the next UNEP Governing Council in February 2005.

  • UNEP should convene a follow-up workshop to consider the outcomes of the four pilot studies and refine the guidelines for the parties.

  • One or more developed and further developing countries should also conduct pilot studies of harmonised reporting with effect from January 2005, taking into account the results of the follow-up workshop.

GEF and other financial strategies

Participants suggested that Parties, with support of the two Secretariats as appropriate, pursue opportunities for GEF and other co-funding of activities that create and enhance synergies between the two Conventions at national and regional level. UNEP should be encouraged to support this process.

Participants noted in particular that CBD COP 7 invited the GEF to provide support to developing country parties for the implementation of activities to achieve and monitor progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan of the Convention, and suggested that COP 8 could provide further guidance to the GEF with regard to the implementation of Goal 4.3 of the framework for the evaluation of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan. CITES Parties were encouraged to address proposals to the GEF in this context.
CITES COP 13 may wish to consider providing input to CBD COP 8 in this respect.
Participants noted that the Parties to the Conventions should look for alternative sources of funding for activities promoting synergies.


The draft meeting report was accepted by the group as reflecting the outcomes of the meeting. It was agreed that an electronic copy would be circulated immediately to all participants in order to allow the opportunity for any final editorial comments, with the goal of completing and then making publicly available the final document as quickly as possible. Comments were also requested on the working drafts of all the background documents, to be reflected in the final workshop proceedings.

BfN has kindly agreed to publish the full workshop proceedings of the meeting, to include the workshop report, background papers and case studies presented, final agenda, and list of participants. These proceedings should be available within four months, and will be circulated to the workshop participants, focal points for both CITES and CBD, other organizations and made available via the internet.
The workshop concluded with a brainstorming session to identify and clarify potential follow-up activities and how they might be taken forward. Suggestions for future actions included:

  • holding a side event on CITES-CBD synergies at CITES CoP 13 and CBD CoP 8;

  • exchange of information on CITES-CBD synergies via an informal contact group and the internet;

  • national and regional workshops to enhance mutual understanding of CITES, CBD and the potential for greater synergies; and

  • identify and communicate the suggested actions targeted at specific institutions.

Participants stressed that existing processes, for example the committees of the two Conventions, should be used as much as possible to achieve the aims identified, rather than creating new structures.

Overall, participants felt that the workshop had provided a excellent opportunity to share ideas, develop new links and potential partnerships and identify areas for future action as individuals, as well as through their respective institutions, and through further collaboration. There was great interest in seeing concrete actions taken to follow-up on the many suggestions and proposals made, and participants offered to share the workshop results with their own organizations and networks to stimulate further action.

1 An informal presentation was made at the workshop by Michael Kiehn on International Plant Exchange Network for Non-Commercial Purposes related to ABS and other issues raised by the CBD

2 UK co-funded the Indonesian pilot project.

CITES-CBD Synergies Workshop

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