By Shanika Sriyananda
Setting an example to the world on beating plastics and conserving trees, Sri Lanka is to host one of the largest international events – the 18th ‘Conference of Parties’ of the ‘Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’ (CITES), from 23 May to 3 June in 2019 with no plastic bottles and printing papers. This was announced by the CITES CoP 18 Sri Lankan Office top officials who held a media briefing held at the BMICH, recently.
Minister of Buddha Sasana Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, who had lobbied to get the award to host the conference when he was the Minister of Wildlife and Sustainable Development, said it was an honour to Sri Lanka to host the CoP 18 event of the CITES, which is the second largest forum next to the UN.
“Sri Lanka gained international recognition when we destroyed over 359 tusks worth of Rs. 400 million under the CITES Convention to show our commitment against illegal trading of animals,” he said adding that he didn’t heed to the requests of some influential people, including some of the Cabinet Ministers, to donate the tusks to various temples in the country without destroying them.
He said that the international media had given a very positive coverage on destroying blood ivory and he believed that it would also result in Sri Lanka to get back GSP Plus.
CITES is a multilateral agreement signed by signatory countries to prevent trading of living species in a manner that is detrimental for their survival in the wild. Over 35,000 species have been accorded varying degrees of protection.
Minister said that the Government expected to have over 3,500 official delegates from all 183 signatory parties (182 states and the European Union) at the event.
“This will be the biggest event after Non-Aligned Summit and we wish to ensure that every Sri Lankan citizen is benefited some way or the other. With that in mind several activities such as art installations, competitions, street drama, mascot designs and national product markets are planned around the conference venue,” Director Biodiversity and Culture of the CITES CoP 18 Sri Lankan Office Samantha Gunasekara elaborating more on the CITES said.