Modernising CITES – A Blueprint for Better Trade Regulation

CITES has failed in its stated objective of protecting endangered species from overexploitation through trade, with trade being the primary extinction driver for marine species and the second most important driver for terrestrial and freshwater species. Whilst the lack of funding to enforce CITES provisions has long been known as a key reason for this, blaming the illegal trade is a convenient excuse to ignore the crucial design flaws in the current CITES model.

Nature Needs More decided to fully investigate the reasons why CITES is failing and becoming more ineffective as the number of species in need of protection continues to rise. We researched regulatory models in other industries and the history of regulatory failures to draw conclusions about the suitability of the basic building blocks of the current CITES framework – blacklisting, national sovereignty and it being a non-self-executing treaty. We demonstrate that with those basic building blocks remaining in place, CITES cannot be effective and cannot arrest the decline in populations.

We then outline a new regulatory framework for CITES based on whitelisting, regulating business directly and businesses paying the full cost of regulation. The model we present makes business responsible for internalising compliance, yet keeps companies at arm’s length from the regulator and the regulatory process. We offer a detailed account of how this model would work in practice, under real life conditions. We show that it is financially viable, providing US$9-13.5 BILLION annually to regulate, manage, monitor and enforce the trade. Finally we offer a path for CITES signatory countries to make it happen, acknowledging the difficulty involved in opening the articles for re-negotiation.

The report is available in all official UN languages – Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. 

العربية (Arabic)

中文 (Chinese)

Français (French)

Русский (Russian)

Español (Spanish)

Debunking Sustainable Use Report

The May 2019 IPBES Report into the global state of biodiversity made it abundantly clear that our current patterns of extracting biomass from nature are unsustainable, with up to 1 million species threatened with extinction. The direct exploitation of plants and animals is the second biggest factor driving the extinction crisis, after land use (habitat destruction). Yet since its publication there has been no change in relation to the unrelenting focus on ‘sustainable use’ of wildlife. Even COVID-19 doesn’t seem to have been enough for the industries, businesses and governments desperate to nudge us back into pre-pandemic consumption patterns and business-as-usual to learn. The scale of the inertia is quite staggering.

Nature Needs More decided to dig deeper into the magical claims of the ‘win-win-win’ sustainable use model and highlight how the current institutional settings continue to preference economic growth over both ecological sustainability and social justice outcomes. Our Debunking Sustainable Use Report 2020 focuses on the international trade in endangered wildlife and how the lack of effective regulation under CITES and the tacit tolerance of the illegal wildlife trade combine to ridicule any claims of sustainability.

The story of ‘sustainable use’ starts from a fundamentally flawed assumption – that there can be a win-win-win scenario between economic, ecological and social benefits. Unlimited growth is impossible on a limited planet, so all ‘use’ of nature has to be based on managing the available ‘stock’ for current and future generations. This cannot be done under a capitalist model of private property rights over nature’s resources, it requires a commons management framework. We provide short, medium and long term solutions to reversing the present trends, which are currently driving the catastrophic declines in biodiversity.

Nature Needs More Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports contain a summary of our project work and results. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight this work could not have been done without our supporters and donors. We can’t thank them enough for all their encouragement.

Nature Needs More directors all volunteer their time to the organisation.

Nature Needs More Published Papers

Re-Inventing Magnificence: Gaining Status from Contribution Not Consumption

Nature Needs More’s Founder, Dr Lynn Johnson, was delighted to be invited to be a part of an international collaboration exploring the implications of excessive, unchecked luxury consumption. The paper can be purchased here.

Abstract

Most luxury consumers link rarity to higher status. It may be a luxury car, yacht, haute-couture fashion and accessories, prestige holiday destinations such as Venice, or purchasing exotic wildlife products. For some, legal luxury is not enough to fulfil their status need and they take a step into a world of illegal consumption; this is the case for the buyers of rhino horn in Viet Nam. The desire for rare wildlife products, both legal and illegal is increasing rapidly. Legally, the desire to supply means species are both captive bred en masse and legally harvested from the wild to fulfil the demand. Illegally, criminal syndicates have moved beyond simply exploiting the existing demand to manufacturing new markets using the same principles luxury goods manufacturers have used for decades to trigger desire and purchasing decisions. Uncurtailed luxury consumption of exotic wildlife products is driving the illegal poaching and unsustainable harvesting of many species. Extinction is a direct result of the vulgarity of desire for luxury goods made from endangered species. Battling this trend requires a different approach to traditional conservation methods. Nature Needs More utilises an innovative approach to wildlife conservation, that of demand reduction. But demand reduction alone is not enough, there is a need to redirect desire away from both legal and illegal consumption of exotic and endangered species. Nature Needs More combines demand reduction campaigns in SE Asia with work to revive and reinvent Magnificence, a concept steeped in history but subverted by luxury in recent centuries. This paper outlines Nature Needs More’s research in the field, and the mechanisms by which we can provide elites with an alternative to fulfil their self-image and status needs based on contribution instead of consumption of our most fragile heritage.

Mammoth Tusk Beads and Vintage Elephant Skin Bags: Wildlife, Conservation, and Rethinking Ethical Fashion

Nature Needs More’s Founder, Dr Lynn Johnson, was delighted to collaborate with Dr Catherine Kovesi University a historian at the University of Melbourne where she researches the discourses of luxury consumption. The article explores the fact that wildlife is not currently factored in to the evolving sustainable fashion strategy. It can be purchased here.

Recent years have seen marked consciousness-raising in the arena of ethical fashion. Despite inherent difficulties in tracing a complete ethical supply chain back to source, sustainable fashion movements have helped to highlight the need for prominent fashion industry role models on the one hand, and awareness of those who produce what we consume on the other. Yet, repeatedly in such discussions, one of the most fragile components of the luxury fashion business is left out of the conversation – wildlife and endangered species. To date there have been parallel discourses in ethical fashion and in wildlife conservation that rarely intersect, and are indeed often in unintended opposition to each other. Even those who attempt to promote an ethical path, or who buy vintage rather than new fashion items of wildlife products, often unwittingly contribute to the accelerated demand for wildlife fashion products from present-day endangered species. The desire to be ethical can, in some instances, even contribute to illegal poaching activity. This article unravels for the first time some of the complexities of the conservation dilemmas involved in the wearing of ancient, vintage, and present-day wildlife products. In doing so it argues we should place wildlife center stage, as an equally important element, in rethinking what it is that we wear.

Modernising CITES Proposals

Nature Needs More project documents associated with our proposals to modernise CITES.

Breaking The Brand Project Launch and Annual Reports

In August 2017 Breaking The Brand evolved and was incorporated in to one of the pillars of Nature Needs More Ltd. The final Annual Report for Breaking The Brand which includes the transition to Nature Needs More can be found at the top of the page under the Nature Needs More Annual Reports Section.

Demand Reduction Campaigns

Breaking The Brand project documents associated with creating, evolving and evaluating demand reduction campaigns.

Basic Income Trial Proposal

Nature Needs More project documents associated with our proposals to test a basic income linked to conservation outcomes.