Monday 18th February 2019
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Tributes, as Scanlon leaves CITES

After eight years of service, John E. Scanlon left his position as Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Scanlon, who is widely believed to have left the Convention and its Secretariat in a strong position, now takes on the role of Special Envoy for African Parks.

Representatives of Parties to CITES as well as UN and other international organisations, in their farewell messages, reflect on Scanlon’s contributions to CITES and beyond over the last eight years.

John Scanlon

Former CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations: “As you leave CITES after eight years of amazing leadership, I am delighted to know that you will be taking on the vital position of Special Envoy for African Parks.

“The protection of biological diversity is a critical element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and CITES plays a crucial role in promoting the sustainable trade in and management of these precious resources. You have led the organization impressively over the past eight years, growing not only its membership but its effectiveness on the ground. Your commitment to protecting our fragile environment is longstanding – at IUCN, UNEP and CITES – and I know we can count on your dynamic leadership going forward.

“I wish you the very best in your new role and I look forward to our continued collaboration.”

Dr Edna Molewa, MP, Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa: “Your tireless effort demonstrated in all the encounters with South Africa will always be remembered. Your departure is taking place during the most important period within the CITES schedule, when we approach the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES.

“Your contribution during the planning and hosting of the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from September 24 to October 5, 2016 is truly appreciated.

“The Ministerial Lekgotia which discussed the Nexus between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is of most memorable to South Africa. This took place the day before the opening of the 17th CoP to CITSE. South Africa is honoured to have had you as a Secretary-General when we hosted this important conference.”

H.E. General Surasak Karnjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand: “To learn that you will be soon completing your mandate as Secretary-General of CITES, we would like to express our heart-felt gratitude for your hard work and kind support to the convention and to Thailand on the implementation of CITES. Having met you in South Africa at CITES CoP17 and during your courtesy visit to our office in Bangkok, we were impressed by your energetic and positive personality in moving forward the difficult work in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

“We also appreciate the strong leadership and direction that you have provided to CITES Secretariat and in the service of the strengthening and implementation of CITES during these eight years. Your excellent work will be memorable and the Royal Thai Government continues its strong commitment to the CITES Convention.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate you for your new posting as Special Envoy for African Parks. We wish you all the best and sincerely hope that you will have a prosperous life ever.”

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries: “Thank you John for all your achievements as Secretary General of CITES.

“Your strategic approach to wildlife conservation has significantly strengthened the impact of the Convention.

“You have led the way in making it a critical tool in addressing overexploitation of natural resources.

“As biodiversity on our planet comes under ever greater threat, we need leaders like you.

“I am sure you will be every bit as successful as a Special Envoy for African Parks.

“It has been a real joy working with you.”

Zhang Jianlong, Minister, State Forestry Administration of China: “For more than eight years, CITES, under the leadership of Mr John Scanlon, has achieved extraordinary progress and accomplishments: the considerable increase in the number of CITES Parties and national CITES implementation capacity; the formation and operation of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crimes, which plays a leading role in fighting the global illegal wildlife trade; the establishment of World Wildlife Day, which helps promote public awareness for wildlife conservation; the control of trade in key marine and timber species; and the promotion of thematic discussion and pilot demonstrations for “CITES and Livelihoods” and “Rural Community”, which have put CITES in an increasingly important position to regulate the international wildlife trade and promote sustainable development.

“These achievements have been made out of the concerted involvement of the international community, the industrious endeavours of the Parties, and the active organization and coordination by you and your CITES Secretariat colleagues. Your passion, devotion, wisdom and hardworking nature have won recognition and respect from far and wide.”

The Rt Hon the Lord Hague of Richmond, the United Kingdom: “During my time as Foreign Secretary and more recently as Chairman of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskfore it has been an absolute pleasure to work with John.

“Over the last eight years he has distinguished himself through his constant dedication to the work of CITES. He has successfully raised the profile of CITES as a whole as well as educating and informing the world of the flora and fauna that are today endangered.

“On a personal level it has been a joy to work with John, who has always brought with him a ready and determined approach to his work on conservation. He is knowledgeable, persuasive, and a very effective leader.

“I thank him for his great service and wish him the best of luck in his next endeavours.”

Prof. Judi W. Wakhungu, Ambassador to France, Portugal, Serbia & Holy See, former Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Kenya: “It was indeed a great pleasure to have worked together, particularly in the last CoP, where I was the Head of Kenyan delegation and Chair of over 30 African Elephant Coalition Parties to CITES. Through your leadership, we saw the closure of the largest legal domestic ivory markets in China and others have plans for closure. This is a cause advocated for by over 30 African elephant range states. In Kenya, this decision had led to a significant reduction in wildlife trafficking and poaching.

“During your tenure, we saw recruitment of youthful, vibrant staff that practiced a more inclusive strategy with keen interest in African nations in a way that no SG previously did. You spearheaded the listing of many threatened species under CITES Appendices to enhance their protection. I do hope this will continue after your era.

“I am certain your new responsibility at the African Parks will bring more synergy among managers of protected areas, to enhance the conservation and management of our natural resources.”

Judith G. Garber, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State: “We would like to thank John Scanlon for his steady and skilful leadership at the helm of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for the past eight years. He joined CITES during a surge in the illegal trade in wildlife and the recognition of wildlife trafficking as a high-value, low-risk crime involving transnational criminal networks. Under Mr. Scanlon’s leadership, CITES devised new ways to address this challenge and expanded its partnerships beyond the traditional wildlife management community to include key law enforcement organisations. Mr Scanlon was also instrumental in building the high-level political attention needed to tackle this security threat and in the process raised the profile of CITES.

“We will miss his vision and leadership at CITES, but are pleased that he will continue to make a positive difference for wildlife in his future endeavours with African Parks.”

H.E. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations: “John Scanlon has demonstrated visionary leadership and personal dedication in the battle against illegal wildlife trade and poaching as Secretary-General of CITES. He was instrumental in making sure that the mass poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa was addressed not only in environmental expert circles, but is today at the highest level of the political agenda. Germany worked very closely with him in taking this issue to the United Nations General Assembly, which adopted its ground-breaking Resolution 69/314 on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife in 2015.

“Having realised early on that this battle could not be won by environmental institutions like CITES alone, John Scanlon has also built a strong cross-sectoral coalition between CITES and other international institutions such as INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank and the World Customs Organisation. We are convinced that in his next position, he will continue to be a driver for change towards a more sustainable future.”

Franz Perrez, Ambassador for the Environment, Switzerland: “Dear John, I remember when we first met in Nairobi, both fully committed to strengthen international environmental governance, not as an objective in itself, but as a tool to achieve more on the ground. By moving from UNEP headquarters in Nairobi to head and lead the CITES secretariat in Geneva, you continued your engagement for a better environment and brought it closer to the ground. It was a privilege and a pleasure to work with you, to benefit from your sharp analytical and strategic thinking, to enjoy your humour, and to be stimulated by your commitment and friendship. Your answers and proposals were not only clear, clever and thoughtful, they were also honest – and this is what I appreciated most. Thank you so much – and all the best for your next steps!”

Gregory J. Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director, US Fish & Wildlife Service: “On behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), we appreciate your leadership over eight years as the Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under your guidance, CITES has been elevated to new heights and influence in conservation efforts around the globe. It was my pleasure to make your acquaintance recently and your dedication and passion for the work of CITES as ostensible. My colleagues at the Service speak fondly of their time working with you and greatly value the shared achievements that you have reached.

“You have accomplished much during your tenure: seeing the number of Parties growing from 175 to 183; combating illegal wildlife trade and giving it parity with other international crimes; building collaborative partnerships that have increased funding for CITES; bringing more timber and marine species in trade under CITES regulation; increasing the political visibility of the Convention; engaging new audiences to increase the reach of CITES including travel and tourism operators, youth and rural communities whose livelihoods depend on sustainable use of natural resources.”

Mathias Loertscher, Head of CITES Management Authority of Switzerland and Chair of CITES Animals Committee: “First of all, Switzerland would like to thank John for his outstanding leadership in the years he has been working as Secretary General for the CITES Convention. With his dedication, communication skills and extremely hard work, he has been able to raise the profile of our Convention on the international level to unprecedented heights. He has also been paramount in getting necessary funding for the functioning of the Convention in the future and has led a extremely dedicated Secretariat in supporting the needs of the CITES parties. We already now know that we will miss John but nevertheless we wish him all the best for his new endeavours at African parks. Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future.”

Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP): “John, I would like to congratulate you on your new assignment at African Parks. Over the past four years collaboration between CITES and UNDP has grown considerably. Under your helm, the influence and impact of the CITES Secretariat and the Convention have grown considerably over the past eight years. And thanks to the strong systems you have established in Geneva, we look forward to maintaining our species CITES-UNDP partnership, building on the close working relationships already in place between our technical teams. Although your leadership with CITES will be missed, we look forward to continuing our collaboration with you over the coming months through African Parks.”

Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): “John, my friend and colleague, you have been a tireless and dedicated leader in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade, and you will be sorely missed. With you and CITES as our partner, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has been able to achieve real results in raising awareness of the need to stop wildlife and forest crime, and in support governments to sharpen their responses.

“The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime remains a signature achievement, of which we can all be proud.

“I am delighted to hear that although we are losing you as CITES Secretary-General, you will continue being a prominent voice for wildlife as Special Envoy for African Parks.

“I wish you every success in this new and challenging endeavour.”

Erik Solheim, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme: “John Scanlon is a true champion of wildlife. Under his leadership, the Convention has moved from strength to strength, galvanizing global support for protecting our endangered plant and animal species.”

Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for the Sahel and former Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): “The death of the last male northern white rhino on the planet is a reminder of just how fast the clock is ticking down for some of our most threatened species.  For the last eight years, John has made sure that CITES got that message to the people who can do the most to prevent extinction from becoming everyday news. He has not only raised consumer awareness about the illegal trade in endangered species, he has shifted the related social, economic and security issues onto the agendas and action plans of political and industrial leaders around the world. So, while John is moving on to new adventures of his own, his work at CITES will have global impact for many years to come.”

Michael Møller, Director-General of United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG): “During your tenure, the CITES Secretariat has become a strong partner to the United Nations Office at Geneva and I have greatly enjoyed our cooperation in the past years.

“I would like to convey my warmest congratulations to you in your new endeavours. I am pleased that your tireless efforts towards nature conservation will continue in your new role with African Parks.

“I wish you every success in your new position.”

Jim Yong Kim, President, the World Bank Group: “I would like to thank you for your great service over the last eight years as the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

“We at the World Bank Group appreciate your leadership in raising political awareness around key conservation challenges and driving global action to combat illegal wildlife trade. You helped give CITES Parties and their many partners a strong voice to champion critical wildlife conservation and development issues. Also, we would like to thank you for serving as the Chair of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and for spearheading the efforts to get ICCWC recognised as an important mechanism to fight illegal wildlife trade globally. It was a pleasure meeting you and joining HRH The Duke of Cambridge at the World Bank headquarters in 2014 for the third Biennial Meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance. We look forward to building on the strong collaboration with the CITES Secretariat in the years to come and wish you well on your future endeavours as the Special Envoy of African Parks.”

Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of INTERPOL: “Throughout his leadership at the CITES Secretariat, Secretary General Scanlon has been steadfast in developing a strong and effective partnership with INTERPOL.

“Of special note have been his efforts in actively promoting the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime on the international stage.  Part of Secretary General Scanlon’s legacy is the raised profile of law enforcement among the CITES community through Decisions which promote stronger engagement with the ICCWC partners, including INTERPOL.

“Since 2010, CITES and INTERPOL have collaborated on many projects to strengthen law enforcement involvement in combating wildlife crime, including the development of the International Wildlife Forensics Network.

“Secretary General Scanlon has played an important role in enhancing global efforts to protect endangered species and built a strong platform upon which we can continue our joint efforts to safeguard our environment.”

Kunio Mukyuria, Secretary General of World Customs Organisation (WCO): “It was a privilege to work with someone as competent and dedicated as John Scanlon, who has done much to solidify the efforts with regard to the joint objective we have to combat illegal wildlife and timber trade.

“As Secretary General of CITES, John also brought important leadership to the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), and has, through the CITES Secretariat, done much in bringing the customs community to the forefront in respect of CITES enforcement.

“I wish John all the best with his future endeavours and am confident that he will excel. He will carry with him the best wishes of the international customs community.”

Bob Zoellick, Former President of the World Bank, US Trade Representative, and US Deputy Secretary of State: “John led by mobilizing an extraordinary range of partners to help save species. During my work as President of the World Bank, I deeply appreciated his creativity and energy in uniting the causes of development and biodiversity. He recognized that the animals around us are part of nations’ natural and cultural heritage. John also has been in the forefront of working with law enforcement to raise the profile of investigations, prosecutions, and judicial actions against wildlife traffickers — a critical part of the multi-dimensional battle to save threatened and endangered species.  John, thanks and all best with your next endeavours!”

Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): “While I am contrite to learn that your tenure as Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will come to a close at the beginning of April 2018, I would like to express my warm appreciation to you for the good working relations that we have enjoyed in the past.

“Through our Memorandum of Understanding, we have had a long-standing and mutually beneficial cooperation in ensuring sustainable and regulated trade of CITES-listed species. Under your capable leadership, you leave CITES in a much stronger position and thus able to face better the challenges ahead.”

Francis Gurry, Director General, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO): “I should like to thank you for the exemplary cooperation you have extended to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and to me personally during the period of your tenure. I further congratulate you on your highly successful leadership of the CITES Secretariat which, as you say, has seen the Organisation go from strength to strength.

“I am delighted to learn that you intend to continue your good work in advocacy on behalf of African Parks, and I wish you every possible success in this important endeavour.”

Monique Eloit, Director General, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE): “I would like to thank you for the excellent cooperation we had during your time as Secretary-General of CITES, for your active participation in our activities and for your permanent support to the OIE objectives.

I commend you for the role you have already played in strengthening these links formalized by the signing of the Agreement between our two Organisations.

“I am looking forward to a continued partnership with CITES and I wish you all the best in your new life.”

Inger Andersen, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): “We all owe John a great deal for everything he has done as Secretary-General of the CITES Secretariat.

“Over the last eight years, John has managed to elevate the fight against illegal wildlife trade to new levels. He has helped raise the ambition of decision makers to take on innovative and concrete measures that are protecting some of the planet’s most precious and endangered species.

“I am immensely grateful for John’s partnership and collaboration. During John’s tenure, IUCN – which helped establish CITES almost 45 years ago – has deepened its partnership with the Convention and today provides extensive scientific expertise to CITES Parties concerning both legal and illegal use across a range of species.

“John leaves the CITES Secretariat in a very strong position as it continues with its vital mandate to safeguard the future of our natural heritage. He will go down as one of the great Secretary-Generals.

“I wish him every success as he takes on his new and hugely important role as Special Envoy for African Parks.”

Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS): “John has made a phenomenal contribution to strengthening CITES and species protection, something that is difficult to do from the standpoint of one person having an impact an MEA. He has lifted the visibility of the convention at a time when biodiversity itself had slid off the political map and he has engaged new and important decision makers and stakeholders in the fight against illicit trade – from royals to air cargo CEOs, an unlikely group, but actors who are having profound effects on implementing the agreement, raising awareness of the imperative to act and delivering the funding required to make change. The COPs and Standing Committees have become major events on the biodiversity calendar being extremely well-attended and watched closely by the public, NGOs and governments involved.  But for those that have worked with John, this does not come as a big surprise.

“The level of energy, insight and raw instinct that John brought to these political global processes is unsurpassed (exhausting but exhilarating for those working for him!). We will miss him in the UN and from the governmental side for the next couple of years but like the species he protects, it is hard to change his basic nature and I know we will soon see him using his talents again on the international political scene, and hopefully in the UN, to strengthen a new area or take on yet another new challenge that he is so good at mastering. Meanwhile I wish him well and I will miss his collaborative spirit and his support to CMS that he has lent unselfishly over these last five years. As with his dedication to his work, his dedication to his friends is unyielding and I look forward to continuing our friendship in his new role as the Special Envoy for African Parks.”

Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: “On behalf of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and myself, I would like to recognise John for his transformational leadership of the CITES Convention in the past eight years, and congratulate him upon successfully generating global interest and sparking grass roots actions to end illegal wildlife trade and crime.

“John has demonstrated that intergovernmental and multi-lateral platforms are an effective mechanism to mobilise actions and resolve matters critical to the survival of the planet and humanity. It is therefore reassuring that he will continue to work for wildlife in his new role as Special Envoy for African Parks. We wish him continued success and look forward to collaborating with him in his new position given that African Parks manage important wetland areas.”

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