As a CITES 'newbie', there is so much to learn, even in the first few days of the conference, before the debates get heated and the decisions and voting start to roll along, fast and furious, writes Diane Skinner, of IUCN's African Elephant Specialist Group.
Today, the work of the conference began in earnest, starting with a review of the rules of procedure. These complex rules seem cumbersome, but their necessity soon becomes obvious when you see the size of the room, and the number of delegates (Parties to the convention, IGOs, and NGOs), all of whom have something to say about many of the agenda items!
Reports from the Animals and Plants Committee generated interest and discussion, with every intervention starting with copious thanks to host country Qatar for their hospitality.
The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), had a chance to speak. CMS has been collaborating with CITES on Conservation Measures of West African Populations of the African elephant, a process in which the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group has been closely involved.
The afternoon was devoted to regional meetings of the Parties, leaving me free to explore Doha a little more, a city of skyscrapers in various stages of construction…they do provide some shade when the heat of the sun is a bit much!