UNCTAD Unveils New Electronic System For Endangered Wildlife Trade

By Akanimo Sampson

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has unveiled an electronic permit system to simplify compliant global trade and to combat illegal trade during the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 18th Conference of the Parties held in Geneva, Switzerland, from August 17-28. 

The UN agency brought the new technology to the forefront of the management of endangered wildlife trade by the 183 parties to the CITES. 

The cloud-based solution dubbed eCITES BaseSolution eases the issuance of trade permits as it offers automated support for permit application, processing, issuance and reporting.

Director of UNCTAD’s division on Technology and Logistics, Shamika N. Sirimanne, said “the system will vastly improve the management of global wildlife trade for parties that do not have access to electronic permit management systems. It will be particularly useful for parties with low to medium permit volumes and those from developing and least developed countries.’’

While the system will save time and resources for checking and issuing permits and enable government authorities to provide better services to traders, authorities will benefit from faster and more robust reporting and better data to decide on non-detriment findings.

It will enable government agencies to better target their inspections and identify actors that break the law, and also facilitate the exchange of electronic permits and information across borders, which will increase transparency and prevent use of fraudulent permits.

Simplified and automated procedures will create new business opportunities for compliant traders and rural communities.

Switzerland funded the joint development of the solution by the CITES Secretariat and UNCTAD’s customs automation programme, ASYCUDA.

Head of the CITES Management Authority in Switzerland, Mathias Loertscher, said “the system is essential for the implementation of CITES provisions and to combat illegal trade in wildlife. We are pleased that it’s available to all parties.”

UNCTAD is piloting the system with the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation to improve the authority’s capacity to control legal trade of CITES-listed species and help prevent illegal trade.

“We are proud to pioneer the permit processing platform”, said Ranjan Marasinghe, deputy director of the authority. “It fulfills our long-term need for an efficient and effective system that provides internal controls and transparency of CITES permits via the special authentication feature.”

While Marasinghe added that the system would improve collaboration between international and national agencies in implementing CITES provisions, the cloud-based solution can be implemented in other countries through a technical assistance agreement between UNCTAD and the beneficiary country.