In recent years, many more thousands of species have been added to the CITES appendices for trade restrictions. Of all the nearly 40,000 species listed for CITES trade restriction, only about 1,000 have the tightest of trade restrictions, supposedly banning them from all commercial trade. Yet the businesses who profit from this trade don’t have transparent supply chains. The markets who push for constant growth have shown no desire to put their foot on the brakes, and the investors who provide capital to help business grow have shown no interest in cleaning up the trade.
In theory, at least, even the World Trade Organisation’s rules say additional checks and regulations are permitted in cases where trade could negatively affect the environment. While the WTO primarily acts as a regulatory framework to facilitate international trade, it formally accepts that exceptions to free trade rules are very important in environment related issues.
In 2015, CITES and the WTO produced a joint statement agreeing that that the well-being of economies, habitats, and societies are inextricably linked. And what has been the impact on reducing the legal trade of endangered species as a result of these WTO agreements and assertions? No impact at all.
It is time to call it as it is, the extinction crisis is a result of business, industries, markets and investors, as is the industrial scale of wildlife crime. They have all profited from driving up the desire for products and services whose raw materials are the worlds most endangered species. They have made minimal investments in procurement management, governance and supply chain transparency.
What these stakeholders are pledging now, with their discussions of such things as a ‘Great Reset’, is nothing more than using a voluntary governance framework which has already been in place since 1997, and which hasn’t worked. There is no accountability here.
With all the talk of sustainability, there is no real transparency yet. And sustainability without transparency is just an ideology not a strategy.