RESP Reptile Skins Proposal Recognized by CITES

Leather manufacturing

Geneva, May 3rd - An intergovernmental body tasked with regulating the trade in reptile skins has welcomed policy recommendations from the Responsible Ecosystem Sourcing Platform (RESP) to tackle the illegal and unregulated flow of the highly profitable business.

The policy recommendations – including a blueprint for a global traceability knowledge system - may now become part of a legislation package within the Convention on International Trade of Endagered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES),  to ensure the legality, sustainability and traceability of international trade in reptile skins.

While global demand for reptile skins and luxury leather goods continues to grow, poor compliance with regulations and lack of traceability are seen as major factors depriving rural local communities in low-income regions of the benefits of this trade and potentially threatening the survival of the species used for this industry.

“Legal and regulated trade in reptile skins that meets the highest international standards on animal welfare, can create valuable revenue opportunities for local communities and incentives to deliver both conservation and development goals,” said Eduardo Escobedo, Executive Director of RESP. “That’s why it’s so important to stop all illegal flow of reptile skins,” he added.

Therefore, the International Working Group on Reptiles Skins of RESP, which is a multi-stakeholder group of companies, governments and organisations acting together to improve international value chains of reptile skins, has set a goal to develop a global traceability system by the end of 2016.

Such a system would complement existing CITES procedures and allow the fashion industry to demonstrate the legality and sustainability of its sourcing, a move which could also add significant value to well-sourced leather goods.

“A traceability system covering all stages of production, from the origin of the material to the final product which includes local communities, farms, authorities, tanneries, traders, among others, could completely transform this trade, giving certainty on its sustainable origin and contribution to biodiversity conservation,” said Hesiquio Benitez, General Director of International Cooperation of the Mexican National Biodiversity Commission – the CITES Scientific Authority of Mexico.

In doing so, RESP continues to work towards a sustainable and regulated trade in reptile skins that can improve the lives of local communities and help preserve ecosystems.