Forward steps in race to save planet - GulfToday

Forward steps in race to save planet


Photo has been used for illustrative purpose only.

Meena Janardhan

Just days before the fight against the coronavirus pandemic moved into top gear, forward steps in the race to save the planet were taken too. India hosted the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) was held in Gandhinagar, India. The meeting concluded with the adoption of a number of significant resolutions and decisions to address the conservation needs and threats facing migratory species around the globe.

India, as COP13 host, will assume the role of COP Presidency for the next three years. Prime Minister Modi has pledged to focus on the conservation of migratory birds along the Central Asian Flyway, and announced the establishment of an institutional facility for undertaking research and assessment of the conservation of migratory birds, the conservation of marine turtles, reduction of pollution from micro-plastic and single-use plastic, transboundary protected areas, and sustainable infrastructure development. He also highlighted some of the country’s efforts in wildlife conservation including for the emblematic Tiger, Lion, Asian Elephant, Snow Leopard, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, and the Great Indian Bustard.

According to the UN Environment (UNEP), the CMS COP13 was the first of a series of international nature-related meetings in 2020, which will culminate in the UN Biodiversity Conference at the end of this year, when a new global biodiversity strategy for the next decade will be adopted – the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

The CMS COP13 was the largest ever in the history of the Convention, with 2,550 people attending including 263 delegates representing 82 Parties, 11 delegates from 5 non-Party countries, 50 representatives from United Nations agencies, 70 representatives of international NGOs, 127 representatives of national NGOs and over 100 members of both national and international media.

Reporting on the progress, UNEP highlighted that 10 new species were added to CMS Appendices at COP13. Seven species were added to the list to be provided the strictest protection. New and extended Concerted Actions with targeted conservation plans were agreed for 14 species.

The CMS COP13 also adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration. It calls for migratory species and the concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ to be integrated and prioritised in the new Framework, which is expected to be adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October.

The first ever report on the Status of Migratory Species, presented to CMS COP13, shows that despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by CMS are declining. COP13 agreed that a more comprehensive review should be undertaken to better understand the status of individual species and the main threats they face.

Three CMS Ambassadors – for terrestrial, avian, and aquatic species – were named at the relaunch of the CMS Ambassadors Programme: the internationally renowned conservationist Ian Redmond OBE (for terrestrial), award-winning explorer and environmentalist Sacha Dench (for avian), and Indian actor and environmental activist Randeep Hooda (for aquatic). They will help raise awareness about the important work of the CMS and the plight of migratory species.

Seven Migratory Species Champions were recognised during a special high-level event on the eve of the conference. Under the Champion Programme, Germany, India, Italy, Monaco, Norway, the European Commission, and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi were acknowledged for their generous contributions to CMS initiatives. These range from wildlife conservation in Africa to the implementation of measures to preserve marine life.

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the CMS extended their decade-long partnership protecting Dugongs, African-Eurasian birds of prey and other migratory animals of regional 3 importance. A donor agreement was signed during a high-level event on the opening day of COP13.

Ethiopia joined the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU). Ethiopia is a strategically important country for the conservation of migratory birds of prey given its location across the East African flyway, a significant migration route for millions of birds of prey. In addition, the Sharks MOU has two more cooperating organizations – Divers for Sharks and the Save Our Seas Foundation.

Two sets of commemorative stamps were issued at COP13. A special set of UN stamps featuring endangered migratory species was the result of a collaboration of the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). During the opening ceremony on Monday, the Government of India also issued a special stamp edition featuring the Great Indian Bustard — the mascot of COP13.

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