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  • Writer's pictureLuis Figueiredo

Conservation in Cosmetics: Navigating CITES Convention

Updated: Apr 5

"CITES" stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. It is an international agreement among governments that aims to regulate and monitor the international trade of certain endangered plants and animals to ensure their survival in the wild. These endangered species are listed in three different Appendices, each one with a different level of protection (Appendix I, II and III).


CITIES convention

While CITES is not specific to Europe and is a global convention, European countries are active participants in its implementation and enforcement. In the EU, CITES is implemented via the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations:

  • REGULATION (EC) Nº 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein;

  • REGULATION (EC) Nº 865/2006 of 4 May 2006 laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97.

The Wildlife Trade Regulations distribute species in 4 annexes (A, B, C and D). Appendices A, B, C correspond mostly to CITES Appendix I, II and III but also include some species not listed in CITES that are protected by EU legislation.

  • Annex A includes species that are threatened with extinction. Their trade is allowed only under exceptional conditions. This annex is mostly equivalent to Annex I of the Convention.

  • Annex B includes species which although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival. It is mostly equivalent to Appendix II of the Convention.

  • Annex C is a list of species that a country has requested be listed to facilitate international cooperation in its trade. It is mostly equivalent to Appendix III of the Convention.

  • Annex D Includes species which, despite having no protection status, have a volume of Community imports that justifies surveillance.

Thus, when importing, exporting or re-exporting species covered by these annexes, permits/certificates issued by the competent authorities of the Member States concerned must be obtained before their shipping.

Some natural ingredients used in cosmetic products are listed in these annexes, such as orchids (Orchidaceae) and caviar extracts.

In the case of caviar extracts, this means finished cosmetic products containing caviar extracts are covered by the Convention, whatever the concentration of caviar extracts in finished products or the quantity of extracts required to produce them. A permit/certificate is therefore required when importing cosmetic items containing caviar extracts from countries outside the European Union or shipping these products to countries outside the European Union.

It is essential for cosmetics companies to be aware of CITES Convention and ensure their compliance to avoid any legal issues and contribute to the preservation of endangered species.

Do you want to know if your cosmetic product contains an ingredient covered by the CITES Convention?

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