The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Prof Judi Wakhungu this morning presided over the national CITES stakeholders' briefing session as Kenya entered the homestretch of her preparations for the CITES CoP17 to be held next month in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The preparations process started with the commissioning of a National CITES Technical Committee earlier in the year and included representation from Species Taxa and CITES issues experts from Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and representation from the Conservation Alliance of Kenya.
The first retreat of the National CITES Committee was held in April 2016 in Kilaguni Lodge in Tsavo West National Park to prepare country submissions to CoP17.
A second retreat of the Committee to review proposals submitted by other countries and prepare country interventions and positions on each was held two weeks ago.
The national stakeholders briefing is the final stage in Kenya's consultative preparation through a national multi-agency CITES Technical committee.
In total, Kenya has submitted fourteen proposals covering a wide range of wild species, including the African elephant, African Pangolins, species of snakes endemic to Kenya, the thresher Sharks, species of chameleons, plant species and others on measures to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.
These proposals, together with others submitted by other Parties to the Convention, have since been uploaded on the CITES website www.cites.org in readiness for discussion as agenda items of the triennial World Wildlife Conference.
Over 180 proposals are lined up for discussion, as agenda items of the Conference that will bring together 183 States that are Parties to the Convention. The Parties will take critical decisions on wildlife trade policy and the scope of regulatory control over international trade in specific wild species.
The CITES Convention is an international framework for regulation of trade in certain endangered species of wild animals and plants to ensure use of such species is sustainable and not detrimental to their survival in the wild.
The provisions of the Convention are binding to the signatory States; Kenya being one of them since 1978.
CITES is about regulation through permitting, of INTERNATIONAL trade and about certain species that are subject to the listing in the Appendices of the Convention: Appendix I, II and III.
The purpose of today's session was to brief national stakeholders on the proposals the Government has prepared and submitted to the CITES CoP17 and some of the provisional positions that will be articulated at CoP17.
Kenya remains committed to playing its rightful role in ensuring that international trade in endangered species of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild.
That is why Kenya has been lobbying Parties to the CITES Convention to ensure discussions of the proposals bear this intention in mind.
Prof Wakhungu reiterated that Kenya's proposals, especially on listing the African Elephant on Appendix I is further informed by the call made by H.E the President Hon Uhuru Kenyatta during the burning of country's ivory stockpile in April. The proposals are supported by 28 other African States and Sri Lanka and are meant to offer the highest level of protection of the species under CITES framework.
The listing proposal is accompanied by four other complimentary proposals also supported by the 28 other African States: closure of domestic ivory markets, management of stockpiles, suspension of decision-making mechanism process and control of trade in live elephants.
Prof Wakhungu called on delegates to the Johannesburg conference, both the Government and Observer delegates, to familiarise themselves with the country proposals and, as much as possible, seek any clarification from her as the Head of Government delegation or her designated alternate heads of delegate (s) on any issue regarding the country position.