The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) is an international agreement between governments that aims at ensuring that any international trade in plants and animals “does not threaten their survival.”  After thirteen years of discussion and drafting, the convention was signed by 175 countries at the United Nations on March 3, 1973 and entered into force on July 1, 1975.

Species listed within CITES are placed into one of three appendices.  Appendix I includes plants or animals threatened with extinction that are or may be affected by trade; trade in these specimens may only take place in exceptional circumstances. Appendix II includes species that are not presently threatened with extinction, but may become so if their trade is not regulated. It also includes some species that must be regulated in order to prevent trade in other species listed by CITES, either because they are similar in appearance or for other reasons.  Appendix III includes species listed by a country within their range to obtain international cooperation in controlling trade.

How Was It Measured?
Signing the CITES convention indicates that a country will abide by its terms.  This was used as one layer of evidence that the country is taking measures to preserve species within its jurisdiction, at sea and on land. Data came from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which lists the contracting parties to the convention. All countries party to the Convention by August 2011 were given full credit for membership; those countries that were not contracting parties by that date received no credit (score =0).