SULi has been busy in the last few months, with work focusing on establishing our new membership (with many new members from other parts of CEESP), planning work for the quadrennium, and taking forward work on small scale fisheries, indigenous knowledge, the economics of wildlife trade, and wild meat.
I’ve just returned from the 16th Conference of the Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), where this year proposals included listing polar bears in Appendix I, several shark and commercial timber species in Appendix II, action on trade in African elephant and rhino products, and discussion and decisions on many other issues such as CITES and livelihoods, the International Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and the International Consortium for Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). This Conference of the Parties was shaped by the urgency of addressing the dramatic escalation of poaching of elephant and rhino in particular over the last few years, and the current global political focus on wildlife crime, although issues around sustainable use, local livelihoods, and incentives for conservation were never very far under the surface.
There were 14 SULi members at the COP, a few on the IUCN delegation but most active in other organisations’ delegations, and we met for a constructive discussion about the best role SULi could play at CITES. Overall we saw our major contribution as providing a platform for critical thinking on some of the strategic cross-cutting questions and issues for CITES. These include the incorporation of indigenous knowledge into CITES decision-making (e.g. non-detriment findings), examining the economic aspects of trade chains, and a range of issues surrounding wildlife trade (and its regulation) and local livelihoods (see my article elsewhere in this newsletter on the lack of voices from communities in CITES). We will be pursuing ideas to follow this up in coming months so do get in touch if you are interested.
Rosie Cooney, Chair, SULi
Several other initiatives are on the boil. First, on small scale fisheries, discussions are underway bringing together leading fisheries expertise with those working directly to support communities in fisheries management and livelihood efforts.
There is an intense flurry of activity globally at the moment addressing fisheries, and yet there are concerns both that the interests and voices of small scale fishers are being left out, and that prevailing mainstream ideas about the best way to manage small scale fisheries for sustainability and food security are poorly empirically supported and may be quite wrong. Initial discussions are ongoing to plan an initiative bringing together positive experiences in small scale fisheries around the world, integrating natural and social science, and particularly highlighting examples of successful integration of scientific and traditional/local knowledge in management. Key people involved include Despina Symons, Vivienne Solis and Jeppe Kolding. A first event – a panel discussion – will take place at the MARE Fishers and the Sea meeting in Amsterdam in May, involving SULi, the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, CoopeSolidar, and the Commission on Ecosystem Management’s Fisheries Expert Group.
Second, focusing on international wildlife trade, we are aiming to explore what economic theory (particularly the insights of industrial organization) can tell us about how the structures of trade chains (e.g. the number of buyers at each step, transaction costs, information flows etc) affect conservation outcomes. This builds on the basic insight that environmental regulations in this area are trade controls, and we have a lot to learn about trade controls work and in what sort of circumstances they are likely to achieve their objectives. After some broad consultation at CITES Michael t’Sas Rolfes (SULi) and Alejandro Nadal (of CEESP Theme on Environmental Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment) will be involved in taking this work forward to develop an initial analytic framework that we envisage applying to provide insights from analysis of trades such as vicuña, pythons, cycads, tigers and rhino.
Third, another major focus of work is wild meat and its contribution to food security and livelihoods. In southern Africa, SULi has been involved in work to take forward understanding and action on wild meat and food security in southern Africa, through a series of workshops led by Panthera and the WCS/ZSL Rangewide Program for Cheetah and Wild Dog, and development of a project to examine the contribution of wild meat to food security in SADC (the Southern African Development Community) – see here. This project is now set to begin and aims to inform the development of a SADC-wide strategy on wild meat. A major emphasis in this work is examining the potential to transform illegal and highly wasteful wild meat harvest (which may involve deaths of nine animals in snares for each one actually eaten) into legal and sustainable systems of wild meat management. Another big step forward in the area of wild meat is the establishment of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management. This initiative stems from CBD decisions, and is a partnership of 12 international organisations that have a major mandate to address wildlife management, including IUCN, FAO, CBD, CITES, TRAFFIC and others. It is loosely modeled on the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and its initial focus will be on wild meat (or “bushmeat”). I attended the inaugural meeting on the margins of CITES and Bangkok and am positive about the impact this partnership could have on stimulating and coordinating efforts to address this issue for conservation, livelihoods and food security.