UNCTAD brings new technology to wildlife trade management

30 August 2019

New electronic solution will enable countries to better control legal trade of endangered species and help prevent illegal trade.

UNCTAD is bringing new technology to the forefront of the management of endangered wildlife trade by the 183 parties to the Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

It unveiled an electronic permit system to simplify compliant global trade and to combat illegal trade during the CITES 18th Conference of the Parties held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 28 August. 

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.

“The system will vastly improve the management of global wildlife trade for parties that do not have access to electronic permit management systems,” said Shamika N. Sirimanne, director of UNCTAD’s division on technology and logistics.

“It will be particularly useful for parties with low to medium permit volumes and those from developing and least developed countries,” Ms. Sirimanne said.

Saving time, easing trade

The system will save time and resources for checking and issuing permits and enable government authorities to provide better services to traders.

Ranjan Marasinghe of the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka
Ranjan Marasinghe of the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka demonstrates the electronic permitting system with UNCTAD and CITES Secretariat staff

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.

It will 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.

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

Piloting the system in Sri Lanka

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.”

Mr. 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.