13 February 2013
CITES 40th Anniversary
Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
“CITES 40th Anniversary”
Palais des Nations, Mezzanine, E Building, 2nd Floor
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 at 6 p.m.
CITES Secretary-General Scanlon
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this event, marking the 40th Anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Permanent Missions of Switzerland, Thailand and the United States, as well as CITES Secretary-General Scanlon, for highlighting – through this event – the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity and its endangered species.
The need for and significance of CITES is clear. It ensures that the international trade of wild animals and plants specimens does not threaten their survival. It accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants and enhances international cooperation to regulate this trade. 40,000 elephants are killed each year by poachers, bringing them close to total extinction.
According to the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability, which discussed its work here at the Palais des Nations last year, most habitats are in decline and the rate of species extinction appears to be accelerating. In effect, the benefits reaped from our engineering of the planet have been many times achieved by running down our natural assets. This loss is a significant barrier to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty, hunger and disease. This is why discussions of the post 2015 development agenda, and specifically the sustainable development goals, have included the protection of biodiversity as an important priority.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The loss of biodiversity affects us all – and we must all be involved to reverse the trends. As we hear more testimony to the importance of its conservation, let us commit ourselves to doing more to support the protection of endangered species around the world and international cooperation with CITES.
Thank you very much.