Through our research we know that the illegal trade cannot be tackled without addressing longstanding deficiencies in the legal trade system. In the last 12 months we have worked extensively to understand how CITES needs to be modernised and resourced to close the glaring loopholes in the legal wildlife trade system which are exploited by the illegal trade.
This work has led us to propose changes to the CITES convention starting with the implementation of a traceable, transparent and secure electronic permitting system. We are also advocating for industry to pay the cost of regulating the trade, as is the case in most industries that are regulated based on the Precautionary Principle.
In addition, for CITES to become a proper regulator of the trade in endangered flora and fauna, it needs to take demand side factors into account and its needs to default to a ‘no trade’ position like in all other industries based on the Precautionary Principle (such as for pharmaceuticals). The burden of proof that trade can be sustainable then shifts to those benefiting from trade.