Bijdrage plenaire verga­dering over de belang­rijkste doel­stel­lingen voor de CITES-CoP19-verga­dering in Panama

4 oktober 2022

Anja Hazekamp (PvdD): Madam President, I welcome the Commissioner and the Minister. In these times of climate and environmental crisis, we need to urgently step up the protection of the most endangered animals and plants. Crucially, this means that we need to protect more species via the annexes of the CITES convention, and we need to increase enforcement and tackle wildlife crime. I am very glad that my colleagues in the Environment Committee supported the proposal to write this ambitious resolution. This ambition is much needed because, all too often, the European Union made poor choices during the CITES negotiations. CITES was designed to maintain commercial trade in specimens of wild animals and plants, rather than protect them. However, shouldn't CITES regulate the trade, instead of stimulating it?

Today, I would like to focus on the role that the European Union plays. The EU's position is often the key reason for the failure of many CITES proposals. One would hope, with this Commission's loudly trumpeted commitments to halting biodiversity loss, that there would be greater support for the range states when they are making a desperate bid to protect their native wildlife populations at the upcoming CITES CoP. Why doesn't the Commission support the range states’ proposals? For instance, proposals to protect the hippo and the elephant.

At the last CoP, the Commission refused to support the uplisting of the African elephant to Appendix I. Now, six years later, the situation with some of the African elephant populations is dramatic.

At this moment, 10 range states have proposed to transfer the common hippo to CITES Appendix I. These West African countries are bearing direct witness to the decline of this iconic species, and yet the Commission thinks that it knows better and seems determined to not support the hippo uplisting proposal. This Parliament, however, noted the African nations’ concerns and is voicing its support for ending the commercial trade in hippo products in this resolution. We recognise that this will throw a lifeline to the species, which is jeopardised not only by habitat loss and climate change, but also by the trade in its tusks and teeth for ivory. I urge the Commission and Member States to support this hippo proposal. Do not make the same mistake as you made with the African elephant.

The same can be said for the proposal to list glass frogs on CITES Appendix II. These amphibians are becoming increasingly popular in the exotic pet trade. They are protected in many range states, but are collected and traded illegally. Also, these species fell victim to the EU's position at the last CoP.

We know that we can really make a difference when the EU steps up its action. For example, six years ago, the Morocco and the European Union promoted together the listing of the Barbary macaque. This has already borne fruit: we are now seeing the stronghold population in the Atlas Mountains recovering. Staying on the subject of the exotic pet trade, it is good that this resolution reiterates Parliament's support for an EU—wide positive list. This would also limit the number of wild species that can be kept by private owners and thereby reduce a huge amount of animal suffering of species that are unsuitable to be kept as pets.

I urge my colleagues to support the text as agreed by the Environment Committee.

I am hoping that the Commission listens to these and Parliament’s other demands and soon delivers a revised action plan against wildlife trafficking, with real teeth and the funding to be able to tackle the overexploitation of other species. We need to increase enforcement and penalties for wildlife crime and decrease the demand for products from endangered species, particularly hunting trophies and traditional medicines. I'm looking forward to hearing the response of the Council and the Commission to the crucial points I raised and also to hear their answers to ENVI’s questions, in particular, the need to address the link between wildlife trade and the risk of zoonotic pandemics. I would like to hear from the presidency about what they will do to make sure that this CoP, as well as those on climate and biodiversity, will deliver the success that we so desperately need to protect our planet.

I would like to thank, lastly, all the ENVI shadows for the great collaboration on this resolution and look forward to its adoption tomorrow.

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