Published 1 March 2013

Our children should have the same opportunity that we have to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms.

The Duke of Cambridge

Honorable Prime Minister, Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished delegates.

Today you are embarking on an extremely important journey.  What you decide in this room over the next two weeks could determine the fate of some of the world’s most captivating species, as well as many lesser known plants and animals that warrant equal attention.

As we enter 2013, the world’s natural resources are under threat as never before.  We know from the data and analysis presented to this meeting that the illegal killing of the African elephant and rhino, and the related illegal trade in their ivory and horn, has reached shocking levels in the past few years.  Such threats are not confined to the African continent, with many Asian species now also coming under threat.

We must do more to combat this serious crime if we are to reverse the current alarming trends.   If not, we could soon see some populations of these creatures, or even an entire species, disappear from the wild. 

We simply must not let this catastrophe unfold.  Our children should have the same opportunity that we have to experience wildlife in its many beautiful and varied forms.

I recently had a chance to meet John Scanlon, your Secretary-General, to discuss these issues.   As we all work together, we can reverse these trends, we can make a difference and what you decide right here in Bangkok will make that difference. 

At this crucial meeting, you will also consider many other important issues, including whether to bring additional timber species under CITES controls, as well as several sharks and rays.  In doing so, you have the best available science before you to help inform your deliberations and decisions.  

The Kingdom of Thailand has been characteristically generous in hosting this very special Conference of the Parties.  If I may, I would like to wish all participants a highly productive and successful meeting.  There will undoubtedly be differences of opinion from time to time, but I know that you are all bound by a common objective to ensure the survival of the planet’s wildlife.

It is 40 years to the day since the Convention was signed in Washington D.C., so please join me in wishing CITES a very happy 40th birthday. 

Thank you.