Rebeca Grynspan

UNCTAD Secretary-General

UNCTAD S-G Rebeca Grynspan

Our planet's wildlife, the dazzling array of species that inhabit the earth alongside us, are not merely companions in our journey through time; they are the bedrock of the ecosystems that sustain life as we know it. 

Yet, we find ourselves at a critical juncture, where the survival of these species hangs in the balance, threatened by habitat destruction, climate change, and illegal trade. 

The urgency to act has never been greater, and the need for innovative solutions has never been more acute.

In this digital era, technology holds the key to unlocking new frontiers in wildlife conservation. 

Digital innovation offers us tools to monitor and protect endangered species, to combat poaching and trafficking, and to engage communities and individuals in conservation efforts, regardless of their geographical location. 

In particular, it's essential to recognize the transformative power of inclusive and digitalized trade practices, and how they can contribute to the preservation of our endangered ecosystems.

A very good example is the collaboration between CITES Secretariat and UNCTAD’s ASYCUDA Programme that fits hand in glove with the theme of World Wildlife Day 2024, “Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”. 

ASYCUDA developed eCITES in cooperation with the CITES Secretariat this cloud-based electronic system offering automated support, twenty-four/seven (24/7), for permit application, processing, issuance and reporting for the international trade in endangered species of fauna and flora. 

In essence, eCITES helps governments to prevent the illegal trade of CITES-listed species while efficiently managing permitted, legal trade in such species. 

It is one of the many technological advancements that we have seen in recent years to help government better conserve endangered wildlife.

Through eCITES and other ASYCUDA technologies, UNCTAD is helping governments to cross the digital divide, access the latest available technologies that support international trade, while facilitating wildlife conservation.

In Sri Lanka, for the year twenty-twenty-three (2023), one thousand (1,000) permit requests for the trade of endangered species were issued with a further seventy (70) rejected eCITES has improved compliance to rules and regulations, enabling better control and monitoring by the government. 

eCITES helps the management authority to quickly and efficiently identify permit applications that do not follow the rules and enables them to promptly reject such requests.

We recognise that the UNCTAD and CITES collaboration is one small component of a global effort to use technology to deliver better wildlife protections, but we’re proud to play our part. 

The aim of connecting people and the planet is an honourable one, and we at UNCTAD look forward to continuing our collaboration with the CITES Secretariat and other partners, towards the preservation of endangered species and ecosystems for the generations to come.

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