Report of main proceedings for 18 February 2020

13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13)

The Committee of the Whole (CoW) met throughout the day, addressing budget and administration and matters related to the implementation of the Convention. In the evening, working groups established by the CoW met, including the Budget, Avian, Terrestrial, and Aquatic Working Groups.

Administrative and Budgetary Matters

Budget and Administration: Budget 2021-2023 and Programme of Work for the intersessional period between COP13 and COP14: CoW Chair Akankwasah Barirega invited the Secretariat to present the report (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.13.2), noting that this will also be discussed in a working group. The Secretariat reported that despite the widespread acknowledgement that migratory species are at a critical crossroads, funding is lacking, with arrears totalling nearly one million euros. She lamented that this has detracted from the Secretariat’s work and prevented key staffing positions from being filled. She presented four budget scenarios: zero nominal growth over 2018-2020, which would require cuts due to inflation; zero real growth, which would allow for staff training; 12.71% increase, which would allow for critical staffing increases; and finally, a 2.82% further increase, which would enable the analysis of national reports, and production of a “State of the World’s Migratory Species Report.”

She highlighted two options being proposed to address the budget deficit: introduction of a minimum contribution of one or two thousand euros for each party; and inviting voluntary contributions to support core operating costs.

UGANDA and ZIMBABWE expressed concern regarding the minimum contribution proposal, saying that this goes against the spirit of members contributing according to their ability.

BRAZIL acknowledged the lack of funding and resulting “deficit of implementation,” but, supported by ARGENTINA, PERU, and COSTA RICA, objected to the addition of a clause that would restrict the activities of parties in arrears for three years or more, noting that this would affect 20% of members and compromise conservation of migratory species.

UK, supported by SWITZERLAND, ISRAEL, AUSTRALIA, and NEW ZEALAND supported the Secretariat’s proposal, noting that there are few options available to ensure payment of dues, and that adequate and predictable funding is required for CMS to function properly.

Resource Mobilization: The Secretariat introduced the report (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.13.3/Rev.1). She enumerated voluntary contributions received or pledged in 2018 and 2019 of almost 4.9 million euros, and also thanked for the many indirect financial and in-kind contributions. The report was noted.

Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention

Strategic Plan: Progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Migratory Species 2015-2023: The Secretariat delivered a mid-term report on the implementation of the Strategic Plan and introduced the draft decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.14.1). She recommended further action on implementation, resource mobilization, and capacity building. The EU and SOUTH AFRICA agreed with the Secretariat’s assessment.

Options for a follow-up to the Strategic Plan for Migratory Species 2015-2023: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.14.2). The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recommended using synergies between CMS and CBD via existing channels and institutions as early as possible.

Scientific Council: COP-Appointed Councillor Subject Areas – Analysis Review and Recommendations: Australia introduced the relevant documents (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.15.1), highlighting the decision to set a working group to review the areas of expertise of COP-appointed councillors with a view to better serve the Convention. She asked the COP to agree that the COP-appointed councillor subject areas for the period of COP13-COP15 are: Birds; Terrestrial Mammals; Aquatic Mammals; Marine Fish; Invasive Species; Marine Pollution; Climate Change; Bycatch; and Connectivity/Networks.

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY (WCS) highlighted that illegal and unsustainable take and trade should also be a subject area. 

The CoW established a Friends of the Chair working group to address this agenda item.

Appointment of Members of the Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.15.2), clarifying that members of the Standing Committee are expected to be identified by the respective regions. The discussion of this item was re-adjourned to Wednesday.

Election of Parties to the Standing Committee: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.16), requesting respective regions to identify members and alternates for the Standing Committee.

CMS Contribution to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.17). INDIA introduced the Gandhinagar Declaration, noting that key messages from the High-Level Segment had been incorporated, and called for a contact group to discuss and finalize it.

Synergies and Partnerships: The Secretariat provided an update on the implementation of Resolution 11.10 (Rev.COP12) on enhancing the relationship between CMS and civil society (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.18). WCS highlighted a new report showing that NGOs contribute 20 million US dollars annually in activities that address migratory species. NEW ZEALAND queried how NGO participation would be governed in terms of accreditation, roles, and responsibilities. OCEANCARE said the current biodiversity crisis merits an improved relationship with civil society.

Cooperation with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.18.1) on the cooperation with IPBES. The EU proposed minor amendments submitted in writing.

World Migratory Bird Day: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.18.2), including proposed amendments to Resolution 11.9, adding a second day to the celebrations. Several parties supported the proposed amendments.

Conservation Issues: Avian Species: Finalization of avian and aquatic issues was deferred to the established working groups. 

Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds: The Secretariat introduced the relevant document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.1.1).

The EU supported the proposed amendments and draft decision and welcomed the joint Rome Strategic Plan of the Bern Convention and the Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT) on the eradication of Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Wild Birds 2020-2030, when finalized, as a guiding document. AUSTRALIA supported BirdLife International’s proposed situation analysis on the illegal hunting of migratory birds in South East Asia. The CoW Chair established a working group to finalize the document.

Migratory Landbirds in the African Eurasian Region: Prevention of Bird Poisoning: Flyways: Action Plans for Birds: The Secretariat introduced the relevant document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.1.2). The EU supported the document, including draft decisions with minor changes.

Prevention of Bird Poisoning: The Secretariat introduced the relevant document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.1.3).

The EU opposed draft decision 13.BB directing the EU to complete their process under the REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) to ban the use of lead shot in wetlands and support the restriction proposal in the form proposed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) which harmonizes restrictions across all wetlands in Europe. NORWAY proposed compromise text on phasing out the use of lead ammunition.

Flyways: The Secretariat introduced the relevant document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.1.4). INDIA called for an institutional platform for cooperation among range states and proposed language to that effect. SAUDI ARABIA supported India’s initiative but asked for more specific information on the timeframe. NEW ZEALAND called on expanding the flyways scope to include Oceanian ecosystems and provided relevant amendments.

Action Plans for Birds: The Secretariat introduced the relevant document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.1.5), highlighting the proposal to renew the Decision authorizing the intersessional adoption of the Action Plan for the Yellow-breasted Bunting through the Standing Committee. INDIA proposed amendments in writing.

Aquatic Species: Important Marine Mammals Areas (IMMAs): Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara (Italy), COP-appointed Councillor for Aquatic Mammals, introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.1/Rev.1). INDIA, supported by the YOUNG NATURALIST NETWORK, and SEYCHELLES expressed support for the draft decisions, particularly, as range states, the request to consider whether their regional populations of the dugong merit inclusion on Appendix I of CMS. The EU and ARGENTINA supported the document, with the EU suggesting minor amendments and noting the advice from the Scientific Council that the dugong would benefit from listing in Appendix I.

Marine Noise: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.2). Highlighting the adverse impacts of anthropogenic noise on cetaceans and other migratory species, INDIA, ARGENTINA, and PERU expressed support for the document. WWF suggested minor amendments.

Bycatch: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.3). The EU and NEW ZEALAND called for CMS to collaborate with regional technical and scientific intergovernmental organizations and the scientific bodies of regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). The UK called for a coordinated stakeholder approach to collaboratively address bycatch issues and welcomed the close relationship between CMS and the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

Aquatic Wild Meat: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.4/Rev.1), supported by ARGENTINA, ECUADOR, OCEANCARE, and IWC.

Marine Wildlife Watching: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.5), supported by BRAZIL, PERU, ARGENTINA, COSTA RICA, and others.

Marine Turtles: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.6/Rev.2). The EU, supported by COSTA RICA and others, suggested an emphasis on the conservation of nesting beaches. AUSTRALIA requested that work in other fora be finalized before a decision on an action plan for the hawksbill turtle be taken, while WWF suggested that the action plan should be presented for decision at COP14. CITES recommended that the decisions of CITES COP18 on marine turtles be taken into account.

Chondrichthyan Species: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.7). WCS noted that many Appendix I sharks face extinction, and that only 30% of parties have enacted legislation.

Live capture of cetaceans: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.8). SPAIN, supported by PERU, AUSTRALIA, and ECUADOR, encouraged all to support the draft resolution. WHALE AND DOLPHIN CONSERVATION highlighted that a CMS party recently issued a permit to capture 20 bottlenose dolphins.

European Eel: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.9). BELARUS said that dams in neighboring countries are causing populations to crash.

Global Programme of Work for Cetaceans: The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.10/Rev.2). BRAZIL proposed minor amendments, submitted in writing.

In the Corridors

With arrears approaching one million US dollars, the CMS Executive Secretary cautioned that CMS risks entering a “downward spiral.” Many delegates suggested her fears are justified, given only 14% of the funding for the 2020 Programme of Work is currently secured. Participants seemed slightly exasperated about how to deal with parties that fail to make their CMS contributions. “Undermining the implementation of the Convention by refusing to pay needs to hurt,” one seasoned delegate offered, referring to the contentious proposal to deny parties with contributions in arrears of three years or more the right to be elected into CMS bodies, to vote, and to submit proposals.  

In discussing four potential budget scenarios, one delegate remarked that “we will surely end up with some sort of compromise.” This could allow parties in arrears to further delay their contributions, relying on “champions” to step in. However, as the Secretariat outlined, this could be what is required to reverse the trend—new staff capacity could help with fundraising, and a headline-grabbing report could help garner political will and funding as well. Given the one thing all delegates seem to agree on is the urgency of the biodiversity crisis, taking measures to break out of CMS’ downward budgetary spiral is emerging as one of the key challenges for this COP.

Further information

Participants

Negotiating blocs
African Union
European Union
Non-state coalitions
NGOs