Opening the last meeting day, CITES Standing Committee Chair Naimah Aziz charted a way forward to complete the agenda by proposing that any item requiring the SC to simply “note” a given matter rather than make specific recommendations would not be presented or discussed in plenary, and delegates agreed. The Secretariat will invite comments on these documents to be submitted before the end of the year. Furthermore, delegates agreed documents do not need to be orally introduced by the Secretariat or their authors, unless to present relevant updates.
Delegates worked swiftly and diligently throughout the day, reviewing outstanding agenda items and reviewing in-session documents on Article XIII compliance cases and National Ivory Action Plans, among others.
In her concluding address, CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero commended Chair Aziz for her calm demeanor and success in leading the meeting, at which SC Aziz received a standing ovation. SG Higuero further thanked delegates for their commitment, Switzerland as the host, the venue staff, interpreters, translators, technicians, and the Secretariat which is “stretched so thin.” In closing, she called on parties to offer to host CoP20.
In their closing remarks, Ukraine drew attention to the war with Russia and the resulting CITES violations. Indonesia lamented the situation in Ukraine and in Palestine, in particular in Gaza, stressing that Israel’s ferocious bombing was causing severe destruction and environmental devastation. The EU voiced solidarity to Ukraine and its people, and condemned Hamas, particularly the use of civilians as human shields. Further, the EU deplored all loss of civilian life.
In closing, the Secretariat said SC 78 will be held in Geneva from 3 to 8 February 2025, noting an extra day had been added to the schedule. SC77 Chair Aziz thanked everyone for their support, grace, and patience, giving her confidence when she “felt like hiding under the desk,” in particular Sofie Flensborg from the CITES Secretariat and the Secretariat staff.