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Moving Towards Sustainability? An Analysis of CITES' Conservation Policies

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JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
DatePublished - 1 Jul 2011
Issue number4
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)240-258
Original languageEnglish


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been criticised for following a narrow preservationist agenda centred on protecting charismatic species through trade-restrictive policies that disregard the livelihood strategies of communities living alongside wildlife. More recently, however, parties to CITES have embraced the sustainability discourse and taken steps to address the socio-economic dimensions of wildlife trade. This paper examines the policies developed by CITES' Parties at four recent meetings, with a view to determining whether they are founded on a holistic understanding of socio-environmental dynamics. It concludes that CITES' conservation approach remains rooted in a conception of sustainability that treats people and wildlife as separate entities, and where species conservation takes priority over human development. Nonetheless, CITES does appear to be moving towards a more all-encompassing perception of sustainability where focus is on ecosystems rather than ensuring the survival of single species.

    Research areas

  • CITES, Conservation, Sustainability, Sustainable development, Sustainable use

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