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  • In the early 1960s, international discussion began focusing on the rate at which the world’s wild animals and plants were being threatened by unregulated international trade.
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between governments entered into force in 1975, and became the only treaty to ensure that international trade in plants and animals does not threaten their survival in the wild.
  • Currently 176 countries are Parties to CITES.
  • CITES is administered through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). A Secretariat, located in Geneva, Switzerland, oversees the implementation of the treaty and assists with communications between countries.

Protecting Species from Unsustainable Trade

  • Species for which trade is controlled are listed in one of three Appendices to CITES, each conferring a different level of regulation and requiring CITES permits or certificates.

Appendix I:

  • Includes species threatened with extinction and provides the greatest level of protection, including restrictions on commercial trade. Examples include gorillas, sea turtles, most lady slipper orchids, and giant pandas.

Appendix II:

  • Includes species that although currently not threatened with extinction, may become so without trade controls. It also includes species that resemble other listed species and need to be regulated in order to effectively control the trade in those other listed species.

Appendix III:

  • Includes species for which a range country has asked other Parties to help in controlling international trade. Examples include map turtles, walruses and Cape stag beetles.
  • Until CoP13, these meeting were held every two years; since then, CoPs are held every three years.
  • CoP16 is scheduled to occur from March 3-14, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.

CITES Role in Conservation

  • Over the last several decades, CITES has helped ensure global conservation of species.
  • The Parties have adopted a 5-year strategic vision to guide CITES through 2013.

The plan sets the following goals:

  • Ensure compliance with and implementation and enforcement of the Convention.
  • Secure the necessary financial resources and means for the operation and implementation of the Convention.
  • Contribute to significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by ensuring that CITES and other multilateral instruments and processes are coherent and mutually supportive.

Do you know?
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is all set to usher in the introduction of solar energy technology to drive biodiversity conservation and livelihood activities at Chilika.


  • TRAFFIC is a joint conservation programme of WWF  and IUCN.
  • It was established in 1976 by the Species Survival Commission of IUCN, principally as a response to the entry into force during the previous year of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • TRAFFIC is an international network, consisting of  TRAFFIC International, based in Cambridge, UK with offices on five continents.
  • Since its founding, TRAFFIC has grown to become the world’s largest wildlife trade monitoring programme, and a global expert on wildlife trade issues.
  • This non-governmental organization undertakes its activities in close collaboration with governments and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat.


  • To ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.


  • Is of a world in which trade in wild animals and plants will be managed at sustainable levels without damaging the integrity of ecological systems and in such a manner that it makes a significant contribution to human needs, supports local and national economies and helps to motivate commitments to the conservation of wild species and their habitats.


  • The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.
  • It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale.
  • The Convention’s has membership of 117 Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
  • The only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes, CMS complements and co-operates with a number of other international organizations, NGOs and partners in the media as well as in the corporate sector.

Appendix I

  • Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention.
  • CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each State joining the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species.

Appendix II

  • Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional Agreements.

CMS as a framework Convention.

  • The Agreements may range from legally binding treaties (called Agreements) to less formal instruments, such as Memoranda of Understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions.
  • The development of models tailored according to the conservation needs throughout the migratory range is a unique capacity to CMS.

India signs Raptor MOU

  • The Indian Government has signed ‘Raptor MoU’, on Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, with the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), or Bonn Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The CMS aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range.
  • India had become a party to the CMS since November 1, 1983. The ‘Raptor MoU’ is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the CMS and is not legally binding. The ‘Raptor MoU’ extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey, out of which 46 species, including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, etc. also occur in India. India has become the 56th signatory State to sign the ‘Raptor MoU’ that was concluded on October 22, 2008 and came into effect on November 1, 2008.


  • The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) aims to focus public and political attention and resources on ending the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
  • Initiated in 2005, CAWT is a unique voluntary publicprivate coalition of like-minded governments and organizations sharing a common purpose.

CAWT is leveraging the combined strengths of government and nongovernmental partners to:

  • Improve Wildlife Law Enforcement by expanding enforcement training and information sharing and strengthening regional cooperative networks.
  • Reduce consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife by raising awareness of the impacts of illegal wildlife trade on biodiversity and the environment, livelihoods, and human health; its links to organized crime; and the availability of sustainable alternatives.
  • Catalyse high-level political will to fight wildlife trafficking by broadening support at the highest political levels for actions to combat the illegal trade in wildlife.

The Coalition complements and reinforces existing national, regional and international efforts, including the work of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which monitors and regulates international trade in endangered and threatened species and their derivatives. The CAWT organisation is not directly involved in any enforcement activities.


  • ITTO is an intergovernmental organization, under UN (1986) promoting the conservation and sustainable management, use and trade of tropical forest resources. Its members represent about 80% of the world’s tropical forests and 90% of the global tropical timber trade.
  • Like all commodity organizations it is concerned with trade and industry, but like an environmental agreement it also pays considerable attention to the sustainable management of natural resources.
  • It manages its own program of projects and other activities, enabling it to quickly test and operationalize its policy work.
  • ITTO develops internationally agreed policy documents to promote sustainable forest management and forest conservation and assists tropical member countries to adapt such policies to local circumstances and to implement them in the field through projects.
  • In addition, ITTO collects, analyses and disseminatesdata on the production and trade of tropical timber and funds a range of projects and other action aimed at developing industries at both community and industrial scales.


  • The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), established the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) In October 2000, a subsidiary body with the main objective to promote “the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end” based on the Rio Declaration, the Forest Principles, Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 and the outcome of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) / Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) Processes and other key milestones of international forest policy.

The Forum has universal membership, and is composed of all Member States of the United Nations and specialized agencies.

Principal Functions

The following are the principal functions in order to achieve its objective

  • To facilitate implementation of forest-related agreements and foster a common understanding on sustainable forest management;
  • To provide for continued policy development and dialogue among Governments, international organizations, including major groups, as identified in Agenda 21 as well as to address forest issues and emerging areas of concern in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner,
  • To enhance cooperation as well as policy and programme coordination on forest-related issues
  • To foster international cooperation and
  • To monitor, assess and report on progress of the above functions and objectives
  • To strengthen political commitment to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
  • Enhance the contribution of forests to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and to the implementation of the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, bearing in mind the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development;
  • Encourage and assist countries, including those with low forest cover, to develop and implement forest conservation and rehabilitation strategies, increase the area of forests under sustainable management and reduce forest degradation and the loss of forest cover in order to maintain and improve their forest resources with a view to enhancing the benefits of forests to meet present and future needs, in particular the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities whose livelihoods depend on forests;
  • Strengthen interaction between the United Nations Forum on Forests and relevant regional and subregional forest-related mechanisms, institutions and instruments, organizations and processes, with participation of major groups, as identified in Agenda 21 and relevant stakeholders to facilitate enhanced cooperation and effective implementation of sustainable forest management, as well as to contribute to the work of the Forum

IPF/IFF Process (1995-2000)

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) represent five years of international forest policy dialogue.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), established by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) for two years (1995-97) to provide a forum for forest policy deliberations.
  • Subsequently, in 1997, ECOSOC established the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF), for three years (1997-2000).

Global Objectives on Forests
Member States reaffirm the following shared global objectives on forests and their commitment to work globally,regionally and nationally to achieve progress towards their achievement by 2015

The four Global Objectives seek to:
Reverse the loss of forest cover worldwide through sustainable forest management (SFM), including protection, restoration, afforestation and reforestation, and increase efforts to prevent forest degradation; Enhance forest-based economic, social and environmental benefits, including by improving the livelihoods of forest-dependent people;
Increase significantly the area of sustainably managed forests, including protected forests, and increase the proportion of forest products derived from sustainably managed forests; and Reverse the decline in official development assistance for

sustainable forest management and mobilize significantly-increased new and additional financial resources from all sources for the implementation of SFM.

Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests (NLBI)

  • The Seventh Session of the UNFF adopted the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests on April 2007.
  • It is the first time Member States have agreed to an international instrument for sustainable forest management.
  • The instrument is expected to have a major impact on international cooperation and national action to reduce deforestation, prevent forest degradation, promote sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for all forestdependent peoples.
  • The instrument is voluntary and non-legally binding

IUCN was founded in October 1948 as the Internationa Union for the Protection of Nature (or IUPN) following an international conference in Fontainebleau, France.
The organization changed its name to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1956 with the acronym IUCN (or UICN) with its head quarters in Gland, Switzerland.

Just world that values and conserves nature.


To influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects globally and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy IUCN Members include both States and non-governmental organizations. A neutral forum for governments, NGOs, scientists, business and local communities to find practical solutions to conservation and development challenges.

Priority Areas oF IUCN

  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • Sustainable energy
  • Human well-being
  • Green economy
The document International Environmental Convention - 3 | Environment for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Environment for UPSC CSE.
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