The Secretariat of CITES, the global treaty that regulates wildlife trade, announced today that the next meeting of its Conference of the Parties (CoP18) will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 23 May to 3 June 2019.

Sri Lanka’s generous offer to host CoP18 was accepted at CoP17 held in October 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

CITES Secretary-General, Mr. John E. Scanlon said: “The next World Wildlife Conference will for the first time be hosted by an Island Country and it is only the second time a CITES CoP is being held in South Asia, with the last occasion being 38 years ago. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with diverse and truly unique wildlife both on land and at sea. It has a blossoming wildlife-based tourism industry and can boast the ‘Top 7’ wildlife species, being the Asian Elephant, Sloth Bear, Leopard, Black-necked Stork, Saltwater Crocodile, Leatherback Turtle and Blue Whale, six of which are listed under CITES. As one can see, Sri Lanka is an ideal location for a World Wildlife Conference and it will be a wonderful host of CoP18”.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, said: “As a country with rich biological diversity, Sri Lanka is fully committed to the implementation of the CITES provisions to ensure sustainable trade that takes into account the conservation of wild fauna and flora essential for a healthy and prosperous economy. Recent actions taken by Sri Lanka in fulfilling its commitment under the Convention include the seizure of illegally traded blood ivory, which was publicly destroyed in 2016, as well as the initiatives taken to list thresher shark species under CITES Appendix II as a protected species. The offer to host the Conference was made as Sri Lanka is mindful of the challenges that remain to be overcome at national and international levels”.

Parties to CITES are reminded that any draft resolution and any document submitted for consideration at CoP18 and any proposed amendment to Appendix I or II, i.e. the CITES species listings must be communicated to the Secretariat at least 150 days before the meeting, i.e. by 24 December 2018.

However, if a Party intends to submit a proposal to amend Appendix I or II that concerns a species or a population of a species that occurs partly or totally outside of the territory under its jurisdiction, and if it does not intend to consult the other range States before the submission of its proposal, the Party, will have to submit its proposal to the Secretariat by 27 June 2018.

“We look forward to seeing all the 183 Parties to CITES, observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as representatives from rural communities and the youth in Colombo in 2019,” added Scanlon.