Strategy Meeting. Promoting the Sustainable Sourcing of Reptile Leathers
London, United Kingdom. 18 Feb 2011
Loss of biodiversity is – along with climate change – one of the major global environmental challenges facing our planet today.
Business is exposed to serious risks associated with the loss of biodiversity. However, there are also important opportunities for business linked to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The fashion and accessories industries have direct links with biodiversity as it provides a huge source of innovation and raw materials. As a result, these industries are directly impacted by the loss of this natural capital.
The global trade in reptile skins and reptile leather goods is an extensive industry of considerable economic importance. The trade involves a variety of species from many different countries, with specimens both taken from the wild and bred in captivity.
Extensive use of most of these species as well as loss of their habitats has in some cases contributed to a significant decrease of their populations. This in turn has resulted in the need to regulate cross-border trade in these species and the products derived from their use. The main international instrument to regulate cross-border trade in endangered wildlife is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In the European Union, CITES is implemented through the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation, which includes some measures stricter than CITES.
The luxury fashion industry is active in the production, distribution and sale of high-end products made of exotic (particularly reptile) leathers. Although much work has been done to ensure that mechanisms are in place to ensure that the trade in reptile skins is sustainable and well managed, in several cases relatively little is known about the status of species subject to trade or the impact of the utilisation of these species.
Aware of the need to ensure that species are not being threatened as a result of reptile skin utilisation and trade, and committed to sourcing exotic leathers responsibly, a number of high-end fashion companies have seen the need to create effective knowledge-based tools to identify well-regulated and sustainable sources of reptile leathers to use in their products.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-WCMC) and CITES jointly organised this meeting to establish a strategic collaboration to support the fashion and accessories industry advance in furthering their knowledge about their links with biodiversity by creating specific tools to support their monitoring and decision-making concerning the sourcing of raw materials derived from regulated wildlife.