Kenya's proposal to establish a separate fund for non-commercial disposal
of ivory stockpiles shot down
Patrick Amimo, The Standard
December 1, 2022
Kenya's proposal to have elephant range States financed upon non-commercial
destruction of ivory stockpiles was shot down.
The country along with South Africa's proposals was rejected at the just
concluded Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild
fauna and flora (CITES) 19th Conference of Parties (CoP19), Panama City,
Despite a spirited campaign, Kenya’s proposals were shot down; 24 nations
voted in favour, 50 against, and 33 abstained at the two-weeks conference
that ended on November 25, 2022.
The Kenyan delegation’s proposal Doc. 66.2.2 sought to establish a separate
fund for the non-commercial disposal of ivory stockpiles to support
elephant conservation and research, livelihood and economic development
“Ivory trade not only stimulates illegal trade and poaching but it produces
meagre economic resources that are insufficient to finance conservation
efforts in the long term. Indefinitely storing ivory stockpiles, on the
other hand, endangers elephant populations by feeding expectations that the
ivory trade will resume in the future,” Kenya argued in her push for the
Though South Africa supported the principle idea of providing funding, it
opined that in the interim, the African Elephant Fund should be used to
support conservation to allow more consultations among elephant range
States that were not consulted by Kenya and submit a revised document to
The African Elephant Fund brings together 38 African elephant range States,
donor States, UNEP, the Secretariat of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) and the
Convention of the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) working together
to protect elephant populations.
Botswana noted that though the CoP14 parties adopted a resolution to use
the fund to provide resources to implement the African elephant action
plan, the fund has not received the support initially envisaged and that
the establishment of another fund would be unnecessary duplication.
Botswana also rejected the criteria which compel range States to destroy
stockpiles for conservation and management.
Gabon, with a population of 95,000 elephants, supported Kenya’s proposals.
“Stockpiles maintain demand by sending signals for future value. Stockpiles
increase from year to year due to seizures leads to security concerns,”
noted Gabon, adding that given the high cost of conservation, countries
should receive support for conservation efforts.
Tanzania rejected Kenya’s proposals and aligned with her regional bloc
partners of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Tanzania said that the African Elephant Fund has continued to provide
resources and wondered how the proposed fund will be different.
“Encourage donors to fund through African Elephant Fund to meet the needs
of African elephant range States. Kenya’s proposal is unacceptable,”
The US supported Kenya’s recommendations and proposed a working group that
will develop terms of reference for establishing the fund for elephant
range States to access upon non-commercial disposal of ivory stockpiles.
“We need to generate solution by generating revenue for national elephant
management plans and anti-poaching strategies and serve local communities
that co-exist with elephants on their land,” the US observed.
The United Kingdom acknowledged the financial burden that the management of
stockpiles places on parties but was of the view that any resumption of
trade in ivory risks creating demand which will outstrip supply.
Japan called for the review of the African Elephant Fund and urged parties
not to consent to the destruction of stockpiles as a starting point.
Zimbabwe opposed Kenya’s proposals saying another fund would create
unnecessary duplication and overlap.
Mali supported the noncommercial destruction of stockpiles, adding that the
existence of stockpiles, and calls for sales or buyouts, can lead to hopes
for the resumption of the ivory trade, which risks perpetuating illegal
trade and poaching.
“Kenya’s idea is to bring all range States together to ensure that with
this fund, the range of States would have access to funds which are higher
than benefits linked to trade in ivory, and could help to sustain efforts
to protect the elephant,” Mali noted.
Guinea Bissau said the only way to ensure the conservation of species is to
have the fund accessible for range States.
Kenya argued that the major source of funding for biodiversity conservation
is of a public nature and public sources are responsible for 80-85% of the
total finance, with national governments providing 54-60%.
Kenya’s proposals were shot down; 24 nations voted in favour, 50 against,
and 33 abstained at the two-weeks conference that ended on November 25,
2022. [File, Standard]
The Kenyan delegation said that based on a rule of thumb of Sh20,000 per
square kilometre to effectively manage protected areas, the annual
investment for conservation required for the whole African elephant range
would be around Sh627 billion.
Kenya gave an option of financing non-commercial ivory disposal through the
Global Environment Facility. “Consideration should be given to directing
GEF funds to elephant range States holding ivory stockpiles if they agree
to destroy those stockpiles,” Kenya’s document stated.
Kenya had also proposed Debt-for-Nature Swaps (DNS) as another source of
funding. In this way, some of the foreign debt from African and Asian range
States could be forgiven in exchange for their commitment to destroy ivory
stocks and invest in elephant conservation.
According to Kenya’s submissions in Doc. 66.2.2, if a Debt-for-Nature Swap
program could be established, for example, on the basis of 2% of total
annual debt service paid by African range States in 2020, the instrument
could liberate almost Sh138.5 billion per year to fund elephant
conservation efforts, providing more than Sh40,000 per square kilometer of
Other financing options that had been suggested by Kenya included:
dedicated allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF); Payment for Environmental Services; Carbon offset
initiatives: Green bonds; Private trusts and funds; Public-Private Blended
Funds along the lines of Global fund for coral reefs.
Kenya will now have to polish her proposals through further consultations
and expert input with elephant range States and, hopefully, submit a
revised document during the next CoP20.
Earlier, the CITES meeting also rejected Southern African countries'
attempt to reopen the global ivory trade through another ‘one-off’ sale of
Led by Zimbabwe, the SADC countries said they have ensured good governance
and demonstrable wildlife and habitat conservation successes. The 15
Southern African nations argued the SADC region is home to more than 80% of
the world’s total African elephant population and should be recognized for
good management through the ivory trade.
When put to the vote, 15 State parties voted in favour, 83 against, while
17 abstained, thus failing to garner the two-thirds majority for a nod.
Had the proposal passed, it would have allowed the sale of ivory from
national stockpiles of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. A
similar proposal was rejected at the CITES conference in Geneva in 2019.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Deputy Vice President of
Conservation, Mathew Collis, said the ban will prevent the poaching of
elephants and their tusks.
“We have seen the devastating effect of the ivory trade on elephant
populations across the world that have been ruthlessly targeted by
poachers. Any legal ivory trade provides opportunities for criminals to
launder poached elephant ivory into the market. There was a disastrous
increase in poaching across Africa after the last ivory stockpile sales in
2008, and there are no obvious buyers this time round,” said Collis in a
The meeting also placed a temporary ban on live elephant exports from
Africa. Zimbabwe and Namibia have been trading in live elephants. In 2019,
Zimbabwe sold more than 90 elephants to China and Dubai.