For many in the imported wood products business, compliance with the requirements of the Convention on International Trade In Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a fact of life. Ensuring each shipment’s paperwork is in order and the proper stamp is in place is just another step that must be taken to ensure that the harvest of the goods in question is not detrimental to the survival of the timber species that has been slated for protection under the Convention.
But roughly every three years the CITES Secretariat holds a Conference of Parties during which that Convention’s signatories come together to consider proposals to increase the effectiveness of CITES and amend species listings, usually to provide additional protections. Due to the number of timber issues that will be considered as part of this year’s agenda, IWPA has decided to participate in the upcoming Seventeenth Conference of Parties (CoP17), September 24th through October 5th in Johannesburg, South Africa.
While CITES covers much more than just timber species, the Parties are expected to consider several proposals to list several species of rosewood that have come under pressure due to intense demand from the rising middle class in China. While there is not the same level of demand in North America, we think it is important of the importing community to speak clearly and forcefully that any restriction on trade must be carefully tailored to avoid limitations that are unnecessarily restrictive of trade and have clear environmental benefits. Currently, IWPA’s Lumber Committee is formulating position statements that will guide our interactions with policymakers from both the North American and producing country delegations. If you are an IWPA Member and would like to participate in this process please contact IWPA’s Manager of Government and Public Affairs, Joe O’Donnell.
We see our engagement at CITES CoP17 as an outgrowth of the important outreach we do on behalf of Members here in Washington, D.C. This fall, we are looking to expand that outreach by inviting Members to attend our Mid-Year Meeting from September 19 – 21 to participate in IWPA’s advocacy. The Mid-Year Meeting will include briefings with policymakers on critical topics impacting the global timber trade as well as an afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with Members of Congress and staff to highlight the import role your companies play in their districts. In an election season during which the presidential candidates are tripping over each other to appear more anti-trade, these meetings are crucial in putting faces and names to the policy issues we seek their help on throughout the year. As if that wasn’t enough to get you to join us in Alexandria, you can also register for the final 2016 date of our Wood Trade Compliance Training and Due Diligence Resources course on September 21st. We hope you can join us for these important events!