CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is now meeting in Bangkok, and we are thrilled to be part of the 177 member governments for these important discussions. CITES is one of the largest international conservation agreements, and helps ensure that the international trade of wild plants and animals does not threaten their survival.
This trade -- both legal and illegal -- is worth billions of dollars each year. Because the trade crosses borders, regulation requires international cooperation. CITES facilitates this cooperation and protects more than 30,000 animals and plants.
Hundreds of millions of plants and animals are traded every year, ranging from living creatures to products derived from them. While the plight of elephants, tigers, rhinos, and other great animals get a lot of the attention, it's important not to forget the thousands of other plant and animal species that have been threatened by human exploitation -- sometimes to the point of extinction. Even for the many traded species that are not endangered, we still want to be proactive and ensure their protection for the future.
At Embassy Bangkok, illegal trafficking of wildlife and plants is an ongoing priority. Working through USAID, we partnered with the FREELAND Foundation to produce the iThink campaign to increase public awareness of how individuals can make a difference. USAID Asia has invested $16 million over the last decade to combat wildlife trafficking, and the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has sponsored a series of law enforcement training courses for the region's customs and wildlife crime authorities. On a local level and with our CITES partners, we look forward to progress.