International Policy

International environmental conventions and treaties bring together governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to find shared solutions to global environmental challenges. There are several such conventions and treaties that specifically address wildlife (both terrestrial and marine). They serve as legal frameworks that help to protect wildlife, such as controls on the international trade in wildlife and wildlife products through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), stimulating transboundary conservation through the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), or by enhancing the protection of outstanding natural areas/national parks, for example, through the World Heritage Convention.

Our Goal

To contribute WCS's scientific, technical, and policy expertise to international discussions between governments and influence international policies and commitments that will benefit wildlife and wild places, and impact WCS's work in the field for the benefit of wildlife and wild places.

Photo Credit: ©WCS

WCS's Susan Lieberman, Vice President, International Policy, speaks at the CMS CoP in February 2020.

Our Work

WCS engages with governments, international policy-makers and decision-makers, intergovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders to share our scientific, technical, and policy expertise, and to advocate for the development and implementation of international policies and commitments that positively impact conservation on the ground (and in the water). Our focus is on issues and treaties or agreements that directly impact the wildlife and wild places that WCS works to conserve, with particular emphasis on transboundary issues that require international cooperation, such as:

  • Reducing the threat of wildlife trade (legal and illegal) to a wide variety species, including elephants, tigers, pangolins, macaws and parrots, freshwater turtles and tortoises, sharks and rays, and many others;
  • Enhancing cooperation among countries to conserve migratory species along key migration routes;
  • Ensuring that WCS landscapes and seascapes, which represent some of the last, intact, truly wild places on Earth, are protected through domestic and international mechanisms;
  • Ensuring that the crucial role of biodiversity is key to the delivery of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including through government aid programs.

We work closely with national governments and regional organizations such as the European Union (EU) to provide technical advice from our field and policy experts to both influence and enhance the effectiveness of their conservation-related policies. WCS has built strong working relationships with policy-makers in the EU institutions, working with WCS EU , and is also working with a number of European governments. We also operate at the global level and engage in international fora including with treaties and conventions such as CITES, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Why WCS?

  • WCS has staff working in the field and in capitals in about 60 countries, including a large number of PhD scientists with considerable scientific and technical expertise. WCS also has staff with many years of policy and scientific experience, including close collaboration with governments and intergovernmental organizations.
  • We have long-standing relationships with governments at all levels (local, national, and international) where we work in the field, including in countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.

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KBA Partnership

WCS has played an active role in the development of the Global Standard for Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), and is an active member of the KBA Partnership.

Many if not all of the areas where WCS works are either currently identified as a KBA, or are likely to qualify as KBAs, and we look forward to increasing awareness of the KBA Standard and the role of the KBA concept across all 60-plus countries where we work. WCS has active or pending projects focusing on identifying and or improving conservation of KBAs across many of our Priority Regions, including (but not limited to) East Africa (including Uganda and Mozambique), the Western Indian Ocean, Eastern Atlantic Ocean, Southeast Asia and North America (more from WCS Canada and their blog site). As of right now, WCS has active and/or pending KBA-focused work in 10 countries across four continents.

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