The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international legally-binding agreement among States with a membership of 181 States-Parties (as of July 2015). Its mission is to “conserve biodiversity and contribute to its sustainable use by ensuring that no species of wild fauna or flora becomes or remains subject to unsustainable exploitation through international trade, thereby contributing to the significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss and making a significant contribution towards achieving the relevant Aichi Biodiversity Targets”.
The Convention ensures that international trade in species is sustainable by according varying degrees of protection to species of wild animals and plants listed in its Appendices, whether they are traded as live specimens, musical instruments or traditional medicines. Today over 35,000 species of animals and plants are listed in the three CITES Appendices.
CITES is working on a number of initiatives to ensure legal, sustainable and traceable trade. Among such initiatives are projects to assist State Parties to include CITES export and import permits in Single Window environments, collaboration with the World Customs Organization to promote use of the WCO Data Model, collaboration with UNCTAD to include CITES permitting standards in ASYCUDA, design of traceability systems for wildlife in international trade, and the design and provision of capacity building programmes and online courses for Customs and enforcement officials.