At the top of this page there is the statement:
“The WTO is central to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set targets to be achieved by 2030 in areas such as poverty reduction, health, education and the environment. The SDGs put significant emphasis on the role that trade plays in promoting sustainable development and recognize the contribution that the WTO can make to the 2030 Agenda.”
It goes on to state:
“By delivering and implementing trade reforms which are pro-growth and pro-development, and by continuing to foster stable, predictable and equitable trading relations across the world, the WTO is playing an important role in delivering the SDGs.”
Then it lists the goals that are its priority, notice something missing? Yes, Number 15 – Life on Land is missing from the WTO list.
- The trade in terrestrial species (both legal and illegal) is the source of COVID-19.
- The WTO is run by its member governments to assist these members on international trade negotiation and [ensure] that the rules of [free] international trade are correctly applied and enforced.
- The WTO states it is central to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including set targets to be achieved by 2030 regarding the environment.
- In 2015, CITES and the WTO produced a joint statement agreeing that that the well-being of economies, habitats, and societies are inextricably linked [which COVID-19 has decisively proven].
Yet, SDG Number 15 – Life on Land is missing from the WTO list of priorities on its website.
In not listing SDG 15 as a focus is the WTO trying to absolve itself of any responsibility? Maybe it perceives CITES to be fulfilling the function of properly regulating this aspect of trade? In its current state CITES is not capable of managing this trade, it is giving business a free ride. The CITES Secretariat receives just US$6.2 million to regulate a trade worth in excess of US$320 billion.
A recent article from Melbourne University stated viruses and other infectious agents take a disproportionate toll on public health, with zoonotic disease accounting for 60 per cent of emerging infectious disease (EID) outbreaks. More than 70 per cent of these have an origin in wildlife.
Yet the legal trade in wildlife is being driven up. Few people could have known before the pandemic of China’s 22,000 captive breeding facilities, let alone the thriving market for threatened species in many other countries. Similarly, with little fanfare South Africa reclassified 33 wild species as farm animals because of the country wanted to make commercial breeding and selling easier.
To help this legal trade habitats are being destroyed and wildlife species are harvested at unsustainable rates. Mass-scale captive breeding and selling means animals are kept in inhumane and cramped conditions that actively compromise their immune systems while keeping them in close contact with humans.
All of this increases the risks of further pandemics, but we need to remember that the trade goes beyond wild meat sold at wet markets.