Address by H.E. Suvit Khunkitti,
Minister of Natural Resources
and Environment of Thailand
Saturday 2 October 2004
Excellency, Prime Minister Mr Thaksin Shinwatra,
Mr. Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme,
Mr. Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),
Mr. Chairman of the CITES Standing Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Welcome to the Queen Sirikit Convention Centre. It is appropriate
that such a global gathering of conservation-minded decision-makers
be conducted in a convention centre that is named in honour of Her
Majesty Queen Sirikit, who has made conservation of wild fauna and
flora a personal cause, and has had a long and distinguished record
of actively supporting numerous conservation organizations and projects
We are deeply honoured by this opportunity to host the 13th meeting
of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - CITES - more
so because it is the first CITES CoP to be held in Southeast Asia.
We regard this as recognition of the work that we have carried out
in recent years in promoting the conservation and sustainable use
of resources not just by Thailand but by the whole of the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen
With the final addition of Lao PDR in early 2004, all 10 member
countries of ASEAN now are Parties to CITES. With this shared commitment
to CITES, ASEAN is preparing to take up its biggest challenge -
conserving the natural heritage and resources of one of the richest
regions of biodiversity in the world, while meeting the challenges
of rapid economic growth and integration, and expanding social aspirations
of our growing population.
CITES is one of the most successful international environmental
conventions because it has not only found a working balance between
meeting conservation and development needs, but also translated
this balance to practical action on the ground.
Thailand, as a member of CITES for 21 years, is determined to play
its part in the successful implementation of CITES Resolutions.
We recognize the dual needs of education to increase awareness of
the implications of wildlife crime, and effective law enforcement.
To educate the public about the problems and encourage them to
act responsibly, we have worked with NGOs to broadcast on popular
radio programmes. We run training programmes to all relevant groups
on conservation issues and the importance of protected areas. Education
programmes at our Nature Education Centres have also been very effective,
reaching thousands of young Thai people with the conservation message.
From the period October 2546, (2003) to Sept 2547 (2004), our National
Parks Division has answered 518 calls about cases of trafficking
in illegal wildlife specimens. From these cases they have arrested
449 people, confiscated 14,017 animals, and 12,162 animal trophies.
Twenty-one of these cases involved trading in illegal ivory, and
we have confiscated 8,598 elephant tusks, and arrested 21 people.
On the legal side, we have reviewed our Wildlife Protection Act
to tighten and improve legislation against perpetrators of crimes
We want to build on these successes and hope that our efforts towards
closer regional cooperation on wildlife trade issues is significantly
enhanced in the coming months and that sufficient resources, structures
and mechanisms are established to ensure these processes continue
to flourish and to evolve for the benefit of wild fauna and flora.
I welcome you to Thailand - please be sure to enjoy the warmth of
our people, the richness of our culture and the wealth of our biodiversity.
I also hope that you make full use of the opportunity these coming
two weeks to ensure the continued development, application and effectiveness
of CITES, and the conservation of wildlife species in trade, for
many generations to come.