A look back on 2019...
The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflecting on the events of the past twelve months, and looking forward to future opportunities. This is as true for us at the EPI Foundation as it is elsewhere.
2019 has certainly had its share of challenges. The CITES meeting that was due to be held in May had to be postponed, due to bomb attacks in the host country, Sri Lanka. The meeting was rescheduled for August in Geneva, a major logistical challenge. In spite of that, the EPI hosted a successful side event and held more than forty meetings with our partners.
One of the outcomes of this CITES was the formation of a working group on ivory stockpile management, of which the EPI is proud to be a member. We look forward to participating fully in discussions, sharing the specialist knowledge derived from our own stockpile management system (SMS) that has been adopted by EPI member countries. By the time of the next CITES in 2022, we hope to have clear guidelines on how countries deal with their ivory stockpiles.
The EPI continued to grow in 2019. In August we were delighted to formally welcome Eritrea as our 20th member state.
Our leadership council has also been boosted by the arrival of our latest member: the former prime minister of Ethiopia, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe. He joins the former president of Botswana, H.E. Ian Khama, and the first ladies of Kenya and Sierra Leone, H.E. Margaret Kenyatta and H.E. Fatima Maada Bio. This means we now have leaders from all across Africa on our leadership council – a proud achievement.
But there have also been setbacks for those of us working to put ivory beyond economic use. A UK act of parliament closing down the domestic ivory trade is being challenged in the courts. A group of antiques dealers is appealing to the High Court against the law, saying it would cause them disproportionate financial harm. The EPI and its partners in the conservation movement are gearing up to resist this challenge and ensure that the ivory ban enters into UK law.
2020 promises to be exciting. Ethiopia is due to open a new secure central ivory store room, while across the border in Eritrea there are plans for a comprehensive survey of the elephant population. The EPI Foundation stands ready to support these initiatives – and many others.