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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 18 Number 83 | Tuesday, 25 February 2020


Summary of the Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

15-22 February 2020 | Gandhinagar, India


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Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Gandhinagar, India at: http://enb.iisd.org/cms/cop13/

The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) convened under the theme, “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home.” CMS COP13 marked the first in a series of international biodiversity conferences in 2020, which will culminate with the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, in October, which is expected to adopt a new global biodiversity framework. With this in mind, CMS parties adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration, which calls for migratory species and the concept of “ecological connectivity” to be integrated and prioritized in the new global biodiversity framework.

Ten new species were added to the CMS Appendices, of which seven were added to Appendix I, which comprises migratory species that are in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range. These include the Asian elephant, jaguar, great Indian bustard, Bengal florican, little bustard, antipodean albatross and the oceanic white-tip shark. The Urial sheep, smooth hammerhead shark, and the tope shark were listed for protection under Appendix II, which covers migratory species that have an unfavorable conservation status and that require international cooperation for their conservation and management. New and extended Concerted Actions with targeted conservation plans were approved for 14 species.

COP13 also agreed on the following measures benefiting migratory species:

  • integrate biodiversity and migratory species considerations into national energy and climate policy and promote wildlife-friendly renewable energy; 
  • strengthen initiatives to combat the illegal killing, taking, and trade of migratory birds;
  • mitigate the impacts of linear infrastructure on migratory species;
  • deepen the understanding of the importance of animal culture and social complexity for the conservation of endangered species; and
  • investigate possible trade in CMS Appendix I species and the implications for their conservation status. 

CMS COP13 and the associated meetings of the Standing Committee met in Gandhinagar, India, from 15 to 22 February 2020. This was the largest meeting in the history of the Convention, with 2,550 people attending, including 263 delegates representing 82 parties, 11 delegates from five non-party countries, 50 representatives from United Nations agencies, 70 representatives of international non-governmental organizations, 127 representatives of national non-governmental organizations, and over 100 members of both national and international media. 

A Brief History of CMS

Origins of the Convention on Migratory Species

Migratory species are vulnerable to a wide range of threats, including habitat shrinkage in breeding areas, excessive hunting along migration routes, and degradation of their feeding grounds. As a result of international concern over these threats, CMS was adopted in 1979 and entered into force on 1 November 1983. CMS, also known as the Bonn Convention, recognizes that states must be the protectors of migratory species that live within or pass through their national jurisdictions and aims to conserve terrestrial, marine, and avian migratory species throughout their ranges. CMS currently has 130 parties.

The Convention was designed to allow for expansion and revision of commitments and provide a framework through which parties may act to conserve migratory species and their habitat by: adopting strict protection measures for migratory species that have been characterized as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their ranges (species listed in Appendix I of the Convention); concluding agreements for the conservation and management of migratory species that have an unfavorable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international cooperation (species listed in Appendix II); and joint research and monitoring activities. At present, 183 migratory species are listed in Appendix I.

CMS also provides for the development of specialized regional agreements for Appendix II species. To date, seven such agreements and 19 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) have been concluded. The seven agreements aim to conserve: populations of European bats; cetaceans of the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, and contiguous Atlantic area; small cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas; seals in the Wadden Sea; African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds; albatrosses and petrels; and gorillas and their habitats. The 19 MoUs aim to conserve: the Siberian crane; the slender-billed curlew; marine turtles of the Atlantic coast of Africa; marine turtles of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia; the Middle-European population of the great bustard; the bukhara deer; the aquatic warbler; West African populations of the African elephant; the saiga antelope; cetaceans in the Pacific islands region; dugongs; the Mediterranean monk seal; the ruddy-headed goose; grassland birds of southern South America; high Andean flamingos; south Andean huemul; migratory sharks; raptors (birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia); and the manatee and small cetaceans of Western Africa and Micronesia. These agreements and MoUs are open to all range states of the species, regardless of whether they are parties to the Convention.

Eight action plans have also been concluded on the: Central Asian flyway; Sahelo-Saharan antelopes; Chinese Crested Tern; Black-faced Spoonbill; Spoon-billed Sandpiper; Madagascar Pond Heron; White-winged Flufftail; and Lesser Flamingo. There are also three initiatives on bycatch, Eurasian Aridland Mammals, and Houbara Bustard, as well as three Special Species Initiatives on the Central Asian Flyway, Central Asian Mammals, and Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna.

The COP is the principal decision-making body of the Convention and meets every three years. COP1 was held in 1985.

Recent Meetings of the COP

COP9: COP9 (1-5 December 2008, Rome, Italy) listed 11 species on Appendix I of the Convention, including three dolphin species and the West African manatee, as well as the cheetah, with the exception of the populations of Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia for which quotas are in place under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Species listed in Appendix II include the African wild dog, saiga antelope, and several dolphin populations. Following intense negotiations, mako sharks, the porbeagle shark, and the northern hemisphere population of the spiny dogfish were also listed on Appendix II. The proposal to list the Saker falcon on Appendix I was withdrawn. However, a resolution was adopted that set out the direction for future work on this species, and proposed listing it at COP10, unless its conservation status improved significantly.

COP10: COP10 (20-25 November 2011, Bergen, Norway) adopted 27 resolutions, including on: synergies and partnerships; overview of the process regarding the “future shape” of CMS, budget, and enhanced engagement with the Global Environment Facility; wildlife disease and migratory species; migratory terrestrial species; global programme of work for cetaceans; and bird flyway conservation policy. The COP listed: under Appendix I, the Saker falcon, the red-footed falcon, and the far eastern and bristle-thighed curlew; under Appendix II, the argali mountain sheep and bobolink; and under Appendix I and II, giant manta ray.

COP11: COP11 (4-9 November 2014, Quito, Ecuador) adopted 35 resolutions, including on: the Strategic Plan for Migratory Species 2015-2023; the Programme of Work on Climate Change and Migratory Species; the Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI); renewable energy and migratory species; the Action Plan for Migratory Landbirds in the African-Eurasian Region; management of marine debris; fighting wildlife crime and offenses within and beyond borders; and enhancing synergies and common services among the CMS family of instruments. COP11 also listed 31 new species.

COP12: COP12 (22-28 October 2017, Manila, Philippines) adopted 54 resolutions, including the Manila Declaration on Sustainable Development and Migratory Species. Other resolutions adopted included those on: the prevention of illegal killing, taking, and trade of migratory birds; sustainable boat-based marine wildlife watching; energy and migratory species; community participation and livelihoods; aquatic wild meat; concerted actions for, among others, the whale shark, mobulid rays, and the European eel; and the adoption of the African Elephant Action Plan. The COP adopted 34 proposals to amend the Convention’s appendices, four of which were subject to a vote—for the first time in the Convention’s history.

COP13 Report

While COP13 opened officially on Monday, 17 February, it was preceded by a Stakeholder Dialogue on Saturday, 15 February, and a High-Level Segment on Sunday, 16 February.

Stakeholder Dialogue

On Saturday, 15 February, the Stakeholder Dialogue on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework convened. Soumitra Dasgupta, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, welcomed participants and said that India’s commitment to protecting wildlife is ingrained in its constitution. Jochen Flasbarth, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany, thanked India for hosting CMS COP13, noting the importance of CMS in establishing concrete provisions for conservation. He emphasized the importance of civil society in ensuring the implementation of the Convention. Sue Lieberman, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), stressed the importance of CMS COP13 to raising the visibility of migratory species issues at the 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in 2020 in Kunming, China, which is set to adopt a new global biodiversity framework. Amy Fraenkel, CMS Executive Secretary, noting the importance of ecological connectivity to migratory wildlife, highlighted the need to include this concept in the framework.

Sonali Ghosh, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, introduced the open discussion, which explored, inter alia, how sea turtle conservation work undertaken by communities can be enhanced under CMS.

Lieberman, in closing the Stakeholder Dialogue, emphasized how the conservation of migratory species is about connectivity, of people and wildlife, and engaging local communities and governments.

High-Level Segment

On Sunday, 16 February, delegates convened for a High-Level Segment to discuss priorities for migratory species conservation in the global biodiversity framework (GBF). In the first session, several ministers described their own work and views on the role and importance of CMS and how its priorities should be reflected in the GBF. During the second session, representatives of several intergovernmental organizations and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) were asked to reflect on the ministers’ views, CMS, and ecological connectivity. 

Prakash Keshav Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change, India, expressed pride in India’s recent success in recovering tiger, elephant, and rhinoceros populations.

CMS Executive Secretary Fraenkel remarked that this is the first CMS COP since the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) sounded the alarm that a million species might be lost in the coming decade, including many migratory species. Sveinung Rotevatn, Minister of Climate and the Environment, Norway, stated that biodiversity must be mainstreamed across all sectors, including through nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches.

On the role of migratory species in the GBF and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, Yann Wehrling, Ambassador for the Environment, France, called for urgent action and agreed with the proposed 2030 target for the protection of 30% of the planet as interconnected nature reserves. 

Sue Lieberman, WCS, emphasizing that greater ambition is needed to maintain the integrity of ecosystems and ensure connectivity, asked the panel whether they are willing to commit to protect and conserve 30% of the ocean and the land by 2030, as stated in the zero draft of the GBF. Flasbarth said that Germany supported “30 by 30” but that this is not ambitious enough and that the impact of different economic sectors needs to be addressed to avert biodiversity loss.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Acting Executive Secretary, noted that the Framework will be simple, transformative, but unlikely to include targets other than those already in the Aichi Targets. She noted that the Framework is expected to guide countries in their work at the national level but not provide all the answers. She also emphasized that connectivity and species are already reflected in the current zero draft. 

Asked what actions and commitments are needed to reverse species decline, Ovais Sarmad, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, highlighted the role of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Martha Rojas Urrego, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, emphasized the importance of preserving habitats, such as wetlands. Ivonne Higuero, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), stressed the need for indicators that will measure parties’ progress in achieving the new targets. 

Reflecting on his time with CITES, John Scanlon, African Parks, said that the problem was not a lack of cooperation among secretariats across conventions, but rather an ongoing failure of implementation. He called for less emphasis on synergies at the higher level and more on synergies at the field level.

Before closing the panel, audience questions and comments focused on the need for a global biodiversity framework for all, meaning all conventions and stakeholders, including cities, youth, communities, and indigenous peoples. 

Opening Plenary

On Monday, 17 February, Chandra Kishore Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India, officially opened the COP and drew attention to his country’s megadiversity. He noted that Gujarat was home to Mahatma Gandhi and called on COP13 participants to champion the freedom of migratory species the way Gandhi championed human freedom.

In a video address, astronaut Luca Parmitano, European Space Agency, observed that the view from space provides clarity on how all earthly systems are deeply connected and crucial to sustaining all life. Noting that the year 2020 is a “super year” for biodiversity, Joyce Msuya, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), called for the acceleration of efforts to conserve migratory species and habitats. Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary, CMS, identified a need for establishing ongoing flagship reports by CMS on the “State of the World’s Migratory Species.”

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, addressed the COP via video link and highlighted some of Indian successes in wildlife conservation, including the emblematic tiger, lion, elephant, snow leopard, rhinoceros, and great Indian bustard. 

Vijay Rupani, Chief Minister of Gujarat, India, highlighted some of his state’s successful conservation efforts and blessed the Gujarat community for their pride in wildlife protection.

In a tribute to the late Bradnee Chambers, John Scanlon said Chambers was a major proponent of establishing connectivity between processes and raised the profile of CMS within the MEA landscape. Soumitra Dasgupta, Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, India, described him as a visionary, dedicated to CMS and the family of interconnected agreements and processes. Fraenkel highlighted that he had been instrumental in the Rio+20 process, and in establishing the CMS review mechanism.

Organizational Matters: The COP elected by acclamation Prakash Keshav Javadekar (India) as COP13 Chair; Akankwasah Barirega, (Uganda) as COW Chair; and Simon Nemtzov (Israel) as COW Vice-Chair. 

Chair Javedakar invited delegates to review the draft provisional agenda (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.6.1/Rev.3) and annotations (UNEP/COP13/Doc.6.2/Rev.1), which the COP adopted. The Secretariat introduced, and invited delegates to consider, the revised Rules of Procedure (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.4/Rev.2). The COP adopted these by acclamation. The COP elected Malawi, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and Uruguay to the Credentials Committee; and admitted international and national agencies, and bodies that meet the criteria set out in Article VII, paragraph 9 of the Convention to participate at this meeting as observers (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.8/Rev.1).

The COP established the Committee of the Whole (COW) and working groups for avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species, and the budget. The Secretariat clarified that other working groups would be established as needed.

Report of the UN Environment Programme: UNEP summarized its report (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.9), highlighting enhanced collaboration, coordination, and synergies between CMS and other biodiversity conventions; linkages with the GBF; and efforts to enhance scientific and technical support.

Reports and Recommendations of the Subsidiary Bodies of the Convention:  CMS Standing Committee Chair Størkersen (Norway) described work by the Standing Committee since COP12, highlighting: ongoing financial and budgetary concerns, connectivity, and the collaborative nature of CMS.

Fernando Spina (Italy), Chair of the CMS Scientific Council, reported on the activity of the Council since COP12, highlighting new initiatives.

Statements: Depositary and Host Country: Germany introduced the report of the depositary (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.11.1), noting that since the last COP, six more countries have acceded to the Convention. Israel noted that the reservations are very difficult to track on the CMS website.

Outgoing COP Presidency: The Philippines introduced the COP Presidency Report (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.11.2), emphasizing several initiatives to advance the objectives of the Convention at the national, regional, and international levels.

Opening Statements: The European Union (EU) called for addressing light pollution, which threatens many migratory species, as well as insect decline. The United Kingdom (UK) highlighted its commitment to support implementation of the Convention. Mongolia highlighted the need to strengthen the nexus between climate change and migratory species conservation. South Africa emphasized that biodiversity is in a state of emergency.

CMS Agreements Reports: The COP took note of reports from representatives from CMS agreements and other MEAs (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Inf.4.1-7).

Report of the Secretariat and Implementation of the Programme of Work 2018-2020: The Secretariat introduced the report on the Programme of Work 2018-2020 (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.19), enumerating many specific initiatives for migratory species that were delivered with limited financial resources.

Administrative and Budgetary Matters 

Budget and Administration: On Monday, the Secretariat reported on the execution of the CMS Budget 2018-2020 (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.13.1), urging parties to pay their many outstanding contributions at their earliest convenience. On Saturday, 22 February, the COP noted the document. 

Budget and Administration: Budget 2021-2023 and Programme of Work for the intersessional period between COP13 and COP14: On Tuesday, COW Chair Akankwasah Barirega invited the Secretariat to present the report (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.13.2/Rev.1). The Secretariat reported that despite the widespread acknowledgement that migratory species are at a critical crossroads, funding is lacking. 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; a 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. The 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. This item was sent to the Budget Working Group, which met throughout the week.

On Saturday, the Budget Working Group Chair presented the compromise text. France, with the UK, Czech Republic, and Germany, requested that support for an Associate Programme Officer for Avian Species be explicitly mentioned in the budget. The UK offered text that would support this and also reclassify the P5 Deputy Executive Secretary position to a full-time P4 position, and requested that the staffing table agreed in the Budget Working Group be included as an annex.

Norway, with Australia, disagreed that this needed to be addressed explicitly, noting that this is one of many staffing decisions that the new Executive Secretary would be considering within the larger context. He added that the UK and France’s position did not reflect the consensus of the Working Group.

The Executive Secretary clarified that while, in the past, post-by-post decisions were made by the COP, the new trend among processes, including the CBD, was to empower the Executive Secretary to make staffing decisions in a timely manner. The COW proceeded to adopt the revised budget.

Final Outcome: The COP adopted the resolution on the budget for the triennium 2021-2023, with budgets of EUR 2,748,048 for 2021, EUR 2,803,009 for 2022, and EUR 3,200,691 for 2023, contained in Annex 1 (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP13.2/Rev.1). The resolution also, inter alia:

  • adopts the scale of contributions of parties to the Convention, as contained in Annex 2;
  • urges parties to promptly pay their contributions, noting with concern that a number of parties have not paid their contributions for 2019 and prior years;
  • decides that countries with contributions in arrears of three years or more should be excluded from holding office in Convention bodies and denied the right to vote, and requests the Executive Secretary to explore innovative approaches to resolve their arrears prior to the next meeting;
  • encourages parties to make voluntary contributions to the trust fund to support developing countries, and to the trust fund to support the core budget of Secretariat;
  • endorses the Programme of Work for 2021-2023, set out in Annex 6;
  • approves the establishment of a new full-time Associate Programme Officer (Avian Species);
  • grants the Executive Secretary the authority to make staffing decisions, within the limits of the existing budget; and
  • requests the Executive Secretary to prepare budget proposals, including a staffing table showing positions and their status, for consideration by future COPs, including a zero nominal growth budget scenario and a zero real growth budget scenario.

Resource Mobilization: On Tuesday, 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 EUR 4.9 million, and also thanked for the many indirect financial and in-kind contributions. The report was noted.

Strategic and Institutional Matters

Strategic Plan: Progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Migratory Species 2015-2023: On Tuesday, 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.

On Wednesday, the COW Chair introduced the revised draft decision. The COW forwarded the draft decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP14.1) for adoption by the COP.

Final Outcome:The decision and its amended Plan, as contained in Annex 1, and its list of indicators (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP14.1) requests the Secretariat to:

  • further develop indicators in the Strategic Plan that are not yet operable;
  • identify and help address data gaps;
  • identify relevant case studies and support their undertaking; and
  • conduct an assessment of the 2015-2023 Strategic Plan in time for consideration at COP14.

The COP requests the Standing Committee to consider implementation progress reports submitted by the Secretariat.

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

On Wednesday, the COW Chair introduced the draft decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP14.2). In response to comments by South Africa, the Secretariat added reference to establishing a working group.

On Thursday, the COW adopted the document following minor amendments suggested by South Africa and the EU and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP14.2.Rev.2), requests:

  • the Secretariat to undertake an analysis of the GBF aimed at assessing its relevance for the mandates of CMS and identifying those aspects of it in which the CMS family could play a role; and
  • the Standing Committee to consider the analysis and compilations prepared by Secretariat.

Scientific Council: COP-Appointed Councillor Subject Areas – Analysis Review and RecommendationsOn Tuesday, Australia introduced the relevant document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.15.1), highlighting the decision to establish 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 to these 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.

WCS highlighted that illegal and unsustainable take and trade should also be a subject area. 

The COW established a Friends of the Chair group to review the expertise of the proposed councillors. 

On Saturday, the COP took note of the appointments.

Appointment of Members of the Sessional Committee of the Scientific CouncilOn Tuesday, 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.

On Saturday, the Secretariat announced the parties elected: Senegal and Zimbabwe for Africa; Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan for Asia; Costa Rica, Brazil, and Paraguay for South and Central America and the Caribbean; Australia and New Zealand for Oceania; and Spain and Portugal for Europe.

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

On Saturday, the Secretariat announced the parties elected: Zimbabwe, Uganda and Seychelles for Africa; Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for Asia; Monaco, Italy, and Georgia for Europe; Panama and Uruguay for South and Central America and the Caribbean; and New Zealand for Oceania.

CMS Contribution to the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework: On Tuesday, 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. On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded to the COP.

Final Outcome:The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP17):

  • request parties to ensure that migratory species’ needs and consideration are integrated in Framework, and to report on progress made to COP14; and
  • direct the Secretariat to support the development of the follow up of the Strategic Plan in line with the analysis of the Framework to be conducted under UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP14.2.

Synergies and Partnerships: On Tuesday, 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 USD 20 million annually in activities that address migratory species.

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft resolution and draft decision and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP18):

  • requests the Executive Secretary to inform relevant MEAs about the Strategic Plan and pursue partnerships and synergistic activities;
  • requests the Secretariat to continue cooperating with stakeholders;
  • encourages parties, the Secretariat, and stakeholders to strengthen engagement with indigenous peoples, youth groups, and local communities;
  • requests the Secretariat to prepare proposals to strengthen cooperation with other biodiversity-related conventions, including through joint work plans;
  • requests the Secretariat to avoid duplication of work with other MEAs, and to cooperate on cross-cutting issues, such as climate change;

In the decision on NGO participation in CMS processes (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP18), the COP:

  • directs the Secretariat to establish a working group to explore options for a special accreditation for NGO partners to CMS and present a proposal on this for adoption at COP14; and
  • explore ways to increase engagement with indigenous peoples, youth, and local communities.

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

On Thursday, the COW agreed to the revised draft resolution, following EU’s proposal to include reference to “connectivity.”

Final Outcome:The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP18.1/Rev.1):

  • urges CMS parties to liaise regularly with IPBES to ensure that migratory species are being adequately addressed by IPBES;
  • calls on the Standing Committee to engage with the IPBES work programme and submit inputs;
  • invites IPBES to address linkages and provide data on migratory species, include connectivity in its work, and consider including an assessment on this topic in its work programme; and
  • requests that the Scientific Council, supported by the Secretariat, engage with IPBES thematic assessments and promote integration of connectivity.

World Migratory Bird Day: On Tuesday, 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. On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft resolution and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome:  The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP18.2), inter alia:

  • invites the UN General Assembly to consider declaring the second Saturday in May and second Saturday in October of each year as World Migratory Bird Days; and
  • requests the Secretariat to continue to facilitate cooperation and information exchange in support of World Migratory Bird Day, including annually undertaking consultations with key stakeholders to reach consensus on the theme to be promoted each year.

Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention

National Reports:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the summary of the national reports (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.20). Brazil called for including support for the analysis of national reports in the core budget, as stated in scenario 4 in the budget document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.15.2). The EU called for improving synergies between the reporting processes of instruments within the CMS family and other MEAs, and suggested amendments to the draft decisions. On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The draft decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP20) call on the Secretariat and the Standing Committee to undertake a revision of the national report format and guidance document to strengthen synergies within the CMS family and with reporting processes of other MEAs.

Application of Article III of the Convention: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document on the import or export of CMS Appendix I-listed species (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.21).

The EU, UK, Australia, Norway, and others called for an intersessional working group to clarify the nature and scale of the impact of international trade on the conservation status of Appendix I-listed species before reconsidering this issue at COP14. The COW established a contact group. On Saturday, the COW endorsed the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP21) call on:

  • parties to share information with their respective CITES Management and Scientific Authorities to facilitate discussion on any particular species issues;
  • the Secretariat to, in collaboration with CITES, develop a list of species included in Appendix I, annotating whether they are also on the CITES Appendices; and
  • the Secretariat to, and with the support of the Scientific Council, develop criteria in collaboration with CITES, to determine the scope and feasibility of assessing the impact of international trade in Appendix I species on their conservation status.

Review Mechanism and National Legislation Programme: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.22). The EU supported the adoption of draft decisions with changes to reflect Resolution 12.9 provisions on the National Legislation Programme. The COW agreed to consider the amendments. On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft decision and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP22):

  • calls on the Secretariat to support parties, through guidance materials, technical assistance, and capacity building workshops;
  • requests the Standing Committee to consider the implementation of the Review Mechanism and report to COP14; and
  • requests parties to review the implementation of the review mechanism at COP14.

Review of Decisions and Resolutions: Review of Decisions:  The Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.23.1) , listing decisions to be deleted and renewed. The COW adopted the document and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The document calls on parties to:

  • delete Decisions 12.2 and 12.3 on Strategic and Institutional Matters; Decision 12.5 on Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention; Decision 12.102 on Taxonomy and Nomenclature; and Decision 12.106-107 on the hosting of COP13.
  • renew Decisions 12.36-39 on Conservation of African-Eurasian Vultures;
  • renew Decisions 12.53-54 on Conservation and Management of Whales and their Habitats in the South Atlantic Region;
  • renew Decisions 12.89-90 on Sustainable Tourism and Migratory Species; and
  • renew Decision 12.105 on Sustainable Development and Migratory Species.

Review of Resolutions: Decisions 12.11 and 12.12: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.23.2), proposing the repeal of Resolution 7.18 (Rev.COP12) and Resolution 6.3 (Rev.COP12) and the deletion of Decisions 12.11 and 12.12. The COW agreed.

Final Outcome: The COP repealed these resolutions and decisions.

Review of the Conservation Status of Migratory Species: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.24). The EU noted its deep concern that biological resource use is a significant threat facing migratory species. On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP24):

  • direct the Secretariat to further develop the preliminary review of the conservation status of migratory species in close consultation with the Scientific Committee;
  • encourage parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to provide financial and technical support to the Secretariat for the above; and
  • request the Scientific Committee to provide support and guidance to the Secretariat for the activities above, and to consider reports submitted by the Secretariat and formulate recommendations for COP14.

Global Atlas on Migration:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.25). India offered support for the development of the atlas, noting that an existing one on birds has been very useful. The COW and the COP noted progress on the development of the atlas.

Conservation Issues

The draft resolutions and decisions on conservation issues were taken up by the COW and distributed to the working groups for avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species for further discussion.

Avian Species  

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

The EU supported the proposed amendments and draft decision. Australia supported BirdLife International’s proposed situation analysis on the illegal hunting of migratory birds in Southeast Asia. The COW Chair established a working group to finalize the document. 

On Saturday, the COW endorsed the draft decision.

Final Outcome:Resolution 11.16 (Rev.COP13) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.1):

  • urges parties and invites non-parties to commit to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to any deliberate illegal killing, trapping, and trade of wild birds and to adopt a full and proactive role in righting against these illegal activities;
  • calls on parties and invites non-parties and stakeholders, with the support of the Secretariat, to strengthen national and local capacity to address illegal killing, taking, and trade of migratory birds; and
  • calls on the Secretariat to report progress on implementation and, as much as possible, assess the efficacy of measures taken.

Action Plan for Migratory Landbirds in the African Eurasian Region; On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.1.2). The EU supported the document, including the draft decisions with minor changes. 

On Thursday, the draft resolution and draft decisions were adopted and forward to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.2):

  • adopts the Action Plan for Migratory Landbirds in the African-Eurasian Region (AEMLAP) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.2/Annex3);
  • urges parties and encourages non-parties to address the issue of habitat loss and degradation of migratory landbird species through the development of policies that maintain, manage and restore natural and semi-natural habitats, including working with local communities; and
  • instructs the Secretariat, in collaboration with parties and relevant international organizations, subject to the availability of funds, to organize regional workshops.

The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.2):

  • request the Scientific Council to continue the Working Group on African Eurasian Migratory Landbirds until COP14, extending its membership;
  • urge parties to make voluntary financial contributions to ensure the coordination of the activities needed for the implementation of the AEMLAP and the Working Group’s Programme of Work;
  • request parties to report on progress on implementing the AEMLAP; and
  • urge parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to make voluntary contributions to the support of the Working Group to organize at least one meeting between COP13 and COP14.

Preventing Poisoning of Migratory Birds: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the 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. On Saturday, the COW endorsed the draft resolution and decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.3):

  • urges parties and encourages non-parties to disseminate and implementation the Guidelines, as appropriate, across all flyways;
  • calls on parties and non-parties to elaborate strategies to address poisoning;
  • encourages parties to monitor and evaluate the impact on poisoning on migratory bird species regularly at the national level; and
  • calls on parties to report progress in implementing actions taken under the resolution.

The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.3):

  • encourage parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and donors to provide financial and technical support to the Secretariat for work under the decision; and
  • direct the Secretariat, subject to the availability of external resources, to appoint a Coordinator of the Programme of Work of the Preventing Poisoning Working Group and to organize regional workshops in high risk areas/flyways.

Flyways: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the 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. On Saturday, the COW endorsed the draft resolution and decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.4):

  • adopts the Action Plan for the Americas Flyways;
  • calls on parties to effectively implement the Programme of Work;
  • requests parties and donors to provide financial assistance for the implementation of the resolution;
  • requests parties to ensure that known key migratory stop-over sites are all protected and managed;
  • urges parties to foster transboundary collaboration within flyway networks and to implement existing site management plans and develop new ones where needed;
  • calls on the Secretariat, in collaboration with parties and other relevant international organizations, to strengthen cooperation with the private sector to promote development and inclusion of flyway consideration into their operational guidance; and
  • requests the Scientific Council to produce guidelines and/or case studies on mechanisms to enhance the conservation of migratory birds through site networks.

The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.4):

  • direct the Secretariat, subject to the availability of external resources, to organize regional workshops aimed at sharing best practices and lessons learned;
  • urge parties to support the work of the Flyways Working Group, the Americas Flyway Task Force, and implementation of the Action Plan for the Americas Flyways; and
  • request range states of the Central Asian Flyway to elaborate, by COP14, under the umbrella of CMS, an institutional framework with the aim to agree on conservation priorities.

Action Plans for Birds: On Tuesday, 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.

The COW adopted the draft resolution and decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome:The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.1.5):

  • adopts species action plans for the Far Eastern Curlew, Baer’s Pochard, and the European Roller;
  • urges parties and invites non-party range states to implement relevant provisions of all of the action plans for birds that have been adopted by the COP, and to report on progress;
  • directs the Standing Committee to adopt the Yellow-breasted Bunting Action Plan or Multi-species Action Plan for Eurasian migratory species under the genus Emberiza (Buntings) in an unfavorable conservation status; and
  • directs parties, non-parties and stakeholders to develop a single species action plan for the Indian Skimmer and report on progress at COP14.

Aquatic Species

Important Marine Mammals Areas (IMMAs): On Tuesday, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara (Italy), COP-appointed Councillor for Aquatic Mammals, introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.1/Rev.1).

The COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The draft decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.1):

  • request parties to draw upon the IMMAs posted on the website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Joint Species Survival Commission (SSC)/World Commission for Protected Areas (WCPA) Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force; and
  • requests Dugon range state parties to consider whether their regional population merits inclusion in CMS Appendix 1.

Marine Noise: On Tuesday, 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.

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The draft decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.2):

  • request parties to disseminate the CMS Family Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessment for Marine Noise-generating Activities to relevant national departments, and to inform the Scientific Council regarding lessons learned in its application; and
  • requests the Scientific Council to review the report on Best Available Technology and Best Environmental Practice and, if required, develop voluntary noise mitigation guidelines.

Bycatch: On Tuesday, 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.

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decision and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.3):

  • urges parties with marine mammal bycatch problems to take into account relevant assessments and Food and Agriculture Organization technical guidelines to reduce bycatch; and
  • requests the Secretariat to: respond to requests from parties for national or regional reviews to determine CMS species bycatch levels, and identify priority areas to be addressed, and support the Scientific Council with commissioning a review on bycatch in chondrichthyan species.

Aquatic Wild Meat: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.4/Rev.1), which was supported by many parties.

On Saturday, the COW adopted the document and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The COP noted, inter alia, the report on the Harvest of CMS Appendix I-Listed Sharks and Rays as Aquatic Wild Meat, and adopted draft decisions, calling on:

  • the Aquatic Wild Meat Working Group to work with the Bycatch Working Group to develop analysis of instances where bycatch transitions to aquatic wild meat harvest; and 
  • the Secretariat to liaise with the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW) to promote the inclusion of aquatic wild meat in their work.

Marine Wildlife Watching: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.5), which was supported by many parties. On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.5) direct:

  •  parties to provide the Secretariat with copies of the relevant documents for any measures that they have adopted regarding recreational in-water interactions with aquatic mammals or other CMS-listed species; and
  • the Secretariat to support the Scientific Council in the development of guidelines on recreational in-water interactions.

Marine Turtles: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.6/Rev.2). The EU, supported by Costa Rica and others, suggested emphasizing 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. 

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.6) direct parties to provide funding to the Secretariat to support the implementation of this decision. The Scientific Council is directed to:

  • review relevant scientific information on conservation and threats to marine turtles;
  • develop new recommendations for the conservation of all species of marine turtles included in Appendix I or II of the Convention, including the preservation of the current nesting beaches and the identification of new ones, for presentation at COP14; and
  • develop a draft single species action plan for the conservation of the Hawksbill Turtle to be presented at COP14.

Chondrichthyan Species (Sharks, Rays, Skates and Chimaeras): On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.7). WCS noted that many Appendix I sharks face extinction. On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft resolution and decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.7):

  • requests all parties to strengthen measures to protect migratory chondrichthyan species against threatening processes, including habitat loss and destruction, as well as fisheries bycatch;
  • urges parties to ensure that the populations of all fished and traded chondrichthyan species are maintained within safe biological limits; and
  • urges parties to take steps to eliminate finning, where they have not already done so.

In the decisions, the COP calls on:

  • parties to review their existing legislation and enact new legislation addressing the prohibition of the taking of Appendix I-listed chondrichthyan species;
  • the Scientific Council to review a synthesis of national reports, to be prepared by the Secretariat, to examine information provided on bycatch of Appendix I-listed chondrichthyan species and provide advice to parties on measures to reduce bycatch to sustainable levels; and
  • the Secretariat to produce a synthesis of information on bycatch of Appendix I-listed chondrichthyan species in national reports.

Live Capture of Cetaceans from the Wild for Commercial Purposes: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.8), which was supported by many parties.

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.8), call on:

  • the Secretariat to request parties to submit information on the implementation of the Best Practice Guidelines relating to the Live Capture of Cetaceans from the Wild for Commercial Purposes; and
  • the parties to cooperate with the Secretariat.

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

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decision and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.9), directs:

  • parties that are range states to provide guidance to the Secretariat on the structure and scope of the proposed Action Plan for the European Eel by 31 May 2020;
  • the Standing Committee to adopt the Action Plan;
  • intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to provide expertise and funding for the development of the Plan, including the convening of a range state meeting to finalize the plan; and
  • the Secretariat to submit the draft plan to the Standing Committee at its 52nd or 53rd meeting for adoption, or, if not finalized in time, to COP14.  

Global Programme of Work for Cetaceans: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.2.10/Rev.2), which was supported by many parties.

On Thursday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.2.10) ask:

  • parties to liaise with the Secretariat regarding the potential for the development of an action plan for the cetaceans in the Red Sea region;
  • the Aquatic Mammals Working Group to review the regional threats for the CMS-listed aquatic mammals not included in the Global Programme of Work for Cetaceans;
  • the Scientific Council to review the assessments of regional threats and resulting work programmes developed by the Aquatic Mammals Working Group and provide recommendations to COP14; and
  • the Secretariat to consult Red Sea range states to investigate the potential for the development of an action plan for the cetaceans in the Red Sea region.

 

Terrestrial Species

Joint CITES-CMS-African Carnivores Initiative: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.3.1/Rev.1), highlighting the collaborative initiative on the management of lion, leopard, cheetah, and wild dog populations across 27 range states. The EU, CITES, IUCN, and others welcomed the document. 

On Saturday the COW adopted the draft resolution and decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.3.1):

  • agrees that the Initiative should be implemented through a programme of work that will provide concrete, coordinated, and synergistic conservation activities for all four species across their range;
  • requests the Secretariat to convene regular range state meetings in cooperation with CITES to assess the implementation of the programme of work; and
  • encourages parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and donors to contribute to the objectives of the Initiative.

In the decisions, the COP directs:

  • the Secretariat to work with CITES to include the African Carnivores Initiative in the proposals for the new CMS-CITES joint work programme for the period 2021-2025 and the Standing Committee to review and approve the draft programme of work;
  • with regard to the African lion, all parties, governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organizations, donors and other entities to support the African lion range states and the Secretariat in their efforts to conserve and restore this iconic species across the continent; and
  • with regard to the cheetah and African wild dog, parties to develop and implement within communities, strategies that reduce livestock depredation by cheetah and African wild dog.

Conservation of the African Wild Ass: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.3.2), which was supported by parties.

On Saturday, the COW agreed to the draft resolution and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.3.2):

  • requests Ethiopia and Eritrea to monitor the existing populations of the African Wild Ass; and
  • requests the Secretariat to monitor the implementation of the Roadmap.

In the amendments to decision 12.71, the COP directs Djibouti, Egypt, Somalia, and Sudan to conduct research into whether naturally occurring extant populations of African wild ass remain in their territories, and to report their findings to COP14.

African Elephant Action Plan:  On Wednesday, UNEP introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.3.3). On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.3.3) direct:

  • the signatories of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning Conservation Measures for the West African Populations of the African Elephant to consider replacing their work programme with the African Elephant Action Plan; and
  • the Secretariat to facilitate communication among the Signatories of the West African Elephant MoU.

Sahelo-Saharan Megafauna:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document on the proposed continuation, strengthening, and potential extension of the Concerted Action for Sahelo-Saharan Ungulates (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.3.4 and Doc.28.2.4). On Saturday, the COW adopted the resolution and decision and revised Concerted Action, and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.3.4) urges parties to apply an ecosystem approach and strengthen efforts to conserve and restore habitats for Sahelo-Saharan megafauna and non-party range states to support the Concerted Action for Sahelo-Saharan Ungulates.

In the decision (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.3.4), the COP directs the Scientific Council and the Secretariat, subject to the availability of resources, to examine the possibility of extending the area of the Concerted Action to the deserts of the Horn of Africa and associated biomes and provide their recommendations to COP14.

The COP also adopted the revised Concerted Action (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP28.2.4).

Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI):  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the draft resolution and programme of work (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.3.5), supported by Mongolia, EU, UK, Switzerland, and others. On Saturday, the COW adopted the revised resolution and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.3.5):

  • adopts the Programme of Work 2021-2026 for CAMI;
  • agrees that the Gobi bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus), the Urial (Ovis vignei) and the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) are included in CAMI;
  • urges parties to implement conservation actions for the identified transboundary conservation hotspots taking also into account, where appropriate, the Guidelines for Management Planning of Snow Leopard Landscapes under the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme;
  • requests parties and invites all range states, partner organizations, donors, and the private sector to engage in CAMI and to provide financial or in-kind resources; and
  • calls upon range states to strengthen their transboundary cooperation, inter alia, by using existing international and regional fora.

Crosscutting Conservation Issues

Conservation Implications of Animal Culture and Social Complexity: On Wednesday, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, COP-appointed Councillor, introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.1/Rev.1). Many parties expressed support. The COW agreed to the draft decision in the document and forwarded it to the COP for adoption.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.1/Rev.1/Annex 3), call on:

  • parties to liaise with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Expert Working Group on Animal Culture and Social Complexity regarding the development of concerted action for species or populations identified as priorities;
  • the Expert Group to further develop case studies; and
  • the Secretariat to request parties to submit 18 months before COP14 information on any assessments of anthropogenic threats to socially complex mammalian species on the basis of evidence of interactions of those threats with social structure and culture.

Energy and Migratory Species: Renewable Energy and Migratory Species:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the draft revised resolution and decisions regarding the Energy Task Force (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.2.1), supported by the EU, Brazil, and Senegal. The EU stated that the translocation of species should be a last resort, while the modification of the operation of power plants should also be explored. The COW noted the proposed amendments.

On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft resolution and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.2.1)endorses the Renewable Energy Technologies and Migratory Species: Guidelines for Sustainable Deployment and urges parties to implement them. The resolution also urges parties:

  • for wind energy, to implement science-based strategic planning and monitoring for the safe siting and management of renewable energy development projects;
  • for solar energy, to avoid protected areas and respect important areas for biodiversity identified at the national level, land covered with semi-natural, or natural habitats;
  • for ocean energy, to give attention to possible impacts on migratory species of injury, increased noise, and electromagnetic field disturbance;
  • for hydro-power, to undertake measures to reduce or mitigate known serious impacts on the upstream and downstream movements of migratory aquatic species; and
  • for geo-energy, to avoid habitat loss, disturbance, and barrier effects.

Power Lines and Migratory Birds:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.2.2). India and the EU submitted comments in writing. The COW noted the comments.

On Saturday, the COW adopted the draft resolution and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.2.2):

  • welcomes the guidelines on how to avoid or mitigate the impact of electricity power grids on migratory birds in the African-Eurasian region; and
  • urges parties and encourages non-parties to implement them.

Addressing Unsustainable Use of Terrestrial and Avian Wild Meat of Migratory Species of Wild Animals:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.3), noting that it was not able to complete the analysis on the direct and indirect impacts of wild meat taking, trade, and consumption on terrestrial and avian species due to lack of funding. The EU supported the renewal of relevant decisions with amendments provided in writing.

On Saturday, the COW adopted the revised document.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.3) call on:

  • the Secretariat to prepare an analysis on the direct and indirect impacts of wild meat taking, trade and consumption on terrestrial and avian species listed on CMS Appendices I and II; and, on the basis of the findings, cooperate with the partners of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management and, in particular with CITES and CBD; and
  • parties to cooperate with the Secretariat by providing information and data to the analysis and supporting the discussions on wild meat in global policy.

Improving Ways of Addressing Connectivity in the Conservation of Migratory Species: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.4). The EU supported the update on the implementation of Resolution 12.26 and Decisions 12.91 to 12.93. Brazil objected to the inclusion of paragraphs referencing the development of radio receiver systems. IUCN proposed referencing their Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group’s Guidance for conserving connectivity through ecological networks and corridors.

On Saturday, the COW agreed to the resolution and decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.4) requests, inter alia, the Secretariat to bring this resolution to the attention of the process under the CBD for identifying and describing Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas, the process under the auspices of the UN General Assembly to develop an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, and the IUCN World Commission of Protected Areas Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group.

In the decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.4), the COP directs:

  • parties to address connectivity, including through international cooperation;
  • the Scientific Council to investigate and report on the linkages between migratory species connectivity and ecosystem resilience; and
  • the Secretariat to provide specific guidance for further improving the effective application of measures for addressing connectivity in the conservation of migratory species through national laws, policies, and plans.

Transfrontier Conservation Areas for Migratory Species:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.5). India agreed to the update of Resolution 12.7 to include the concept of transfrontier conservation areas and the renewal of the current decisions. The EU and Brazil proposed amendments. On Saturday, the COW agreed to the revised document, with a minor amendment requested by the EU to address cooperation and possible bilateral or multilateral agreements between neighboring range states.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.5/Rev.1) calls on parties and signatories of CMS MoUs to consider the network approach and ecological connectivity in the implementation of existing CMS instruments and initiatives.

In the decisions, the COP calls upon:

  • parties to propose transboundary habitats of CMS-listed species;
  • the Secretariat to support parties in implementing this decision; and
  • parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to provide financial and technical support to implement it.

Community Participation and Livelihoods: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.6). Several parties described successful examples of community conservation approaches. IUCN proposed that case studies could look specifically at community initiatives enabling connectivity along migratory pathways and suggested amendments to this effect. The COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The draft decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.6) request the Secretariat, with the support of parties and the Scientific Council, to:

  • compile and analyze ongoing initiatives and best practice case studies related to community involvement in the conservation and management of CMS-listed species, including factors such as land rights, management responsibilities, distribution of benefits, spiritual values, and cooperation among communities;
  • prepare a standard template for submission of new cases; and
  • facilitate the organization of workshops and side-events to showcase livelihood experiences and exchange lessons learned.

Impacts of Plastic Pollution on Aquatic, Terrestrial and Avian Species:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.7). India and Rwanda stressed the need for policy support from CMS, while Mongolia and Ecuador suggested using synergies with other fora. The COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.7) call for the mobilization of financial resources, and:

  • invite parties to encourage further research on the impact of plastic pollution on freshwater and terrestrial CMS-listed species;
  • request the Scientific Council to collaborate with other scientific mechanisms, develop a report, and recommend next steps for addressing this threat; and
  • ask the Secretariat to strengthen cooperation under UNEA Resolution 4/6 and support the work of the Scientific Council.

Climate Change and Migratory Species:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.8). Colin Galbraith, COP-appointed Councillor, noted the dire situation for both migratory species and the climate, and the need for further research into the relationship between the two, and called for funding to support this. Brazil opposed introducing additional reporting requirements. The Chair suggested, and the COW agreed, to incorporate Brazil’s suggestions within a revised document.

Final Outcome: The decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.8) request the Secretariat, with the support of parties and the Scientific Council, to identify information gaps, provide guidance on national reporting, and use existing synergies with other fora to obtain relevant information without increasing the reporting burden on parties.

Light pollution:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document on Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife including Marine Turtles, Seabirds and Migratory Shorebird (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.9.1), followed by Australia, introducing the document on Light Pollution and Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.9.2). The COW Chair proposed merging the documents and discussing them together. Australia, supported by New Zealand, reported on its national guidelines designed to reduce light pollution and its disorienting effects on wildlife. The EU said it supported Australia but would forward proposed changes. The COW noted the proposed amendments.

Final Outcome: The resolution on light pollution guidelines for wildlife (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.9):

  • endorses guidelines for assessing and managing the negative effects of artificial light on susceptible wildlife;
  • implores parties to manage artificial light so that migratory species are not disrupted within, nor displaced from, important habitats, and are able to undertake critical behaviors such as foraging, reproduction, and migration; and
  • recommends that parties encourage and support further scientific research on the impacts of artificial light on wildlife, and that further guidelines may be prepared.

In the draft decisions, the COP calls on:

  • the Secretariat to suggest that one of the next World Migratory Bird Days be dedicated to highlighting the effects of light pollution on migratory birds; and
  • the Scientific Council to consider the suggestion regarding how World Migratory Bird Day might be used to highlight the issues associated with light pollution.

Insect Decline and its Threat to Migratory Insectivorous Animal Populations: On Wednesday, the EU introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.26.4.10), including a draft decision requesting the Scientific Council to assess the most important factors causing the insect decline and consider the development of guidelines. Australia supported the draft decision, subject to availability of resources. The COW noted the support for the document. 

On Saturday, a contact group was established to discuss concerns Brazil had raised, stating the amended document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.10) did not reflect the previous discussion. Brazil, supported by Argentina, argued that the conference room paper (CRP) encroaches on the remit of other international agreements, and does not address equally important aspects such as food security and poverty alleviation. The EU presented the outcome of the small contact group, which included mentioning Rio Declaration Principle 15 (precautionary approach) as well as habitat loss, next to pesticide usage, as another major cause of insect decline. With a slight amendment proposed by Israel, the revised document was agreed by the COW.

In the COP plenary, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay reiterated their concerns about the process in the drafting and adoption of the document and argued that the decision does not affect the rights and obligations of parties under any international agreement.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.10):

  • expresses deep concern about the dramatic declines in insect biomass and the potential negative effects on migratory insectivores; and
  • calls upon parties to encourage and support scientific research, avoid the detrimental effects of pesticide use on non-target insects in and around areas that are important for the conservation of migratory insectivores, promote restoration programmes, and take a precautionary approach with respect to the use of pesticides; and

In the draft decisions, the COP calls on the Scientific Council to consider identifying, documenting and prioritizing the main factors causing the loss of insect biomass, and develop guidelines for the most urgent actions identified.

Infrastructure Development and Migratory Species:  On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/26.4.11), calling for a multi-stakeholder working group to address impacts from infrastructure development. The EU and Brazil proposed changes. The COW adopted the draft decisions and forwarded them to the COP.

Final Outcome: The draft decisions (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP26.4.11) call for the provision of information and financial resources and, inter alia:

  • request the Scientific Council to establish a multi-stakeholder working group on linear infrastructure asked to review information, identify areas where further assistance is needed, develop a workplan, and provide recommendations for further work; and
  • ask the Secretariat to identify implementation gaps, consider improvements to guidance on national reporting, assist the working group, and liaise with relevant fora and stakeholders.

Amendment of CMS Appendices

Proposals for Amendment of Appendices I and II of the Convention: The COP adopted all of the amendment proposals submitted from the COW on Saturday.

Asian Elephant: On Thursday, India introduced the proposal to list the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) in Appendix I (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.1), focusing especially on threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, human-elephant conflicts, and illegal hunting and trade. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the EU, and others supported the proposal. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Jaguar: On Thursday, Costa Rica introduced the proposal to list the jaguar (Panthera onca) in Appendix I and II (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.2). Several parties and NGOs supported the proposal, with many stressing the need for protecting migratory corridors and isolated populations. Switzerland expressed concern about increasing evidence of trafficking and fires threatening the species’ habitat. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Urial Sheep: On Thursday, Uzbekistan introduced the proposal to list the Urial sheep (Ovis vignei) in Appendix II and Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.3) and suggested an annotation limiting the listing to populations across CAMI. The EU and India supported the proposal. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Great Indian Bustard: On Thursday, India introduced the proposal to list the great Indian bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) in Appendix I (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.4), including developing a concerted action, citing the highly endangered status of the species. Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and WCS supported the proposal, citing the risk of powerline collisions, among others. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Bengal Florican: On Thursday, India introduced the proposal to list the Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis bengalensis) in Appendix I (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.5), including a concerted action. The EU, Costa Rica, and Bangladesh supported the proposal. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Little Bustard: On Thursday, the EU introduced the proposal to list the little bustard (Tetrax tetrax) in Appendix I and II due to severe declines (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.6). India, Mongolia, Peru, and Iraq supported the proposal. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Antipodean Albatross: On Thursday, New Zealand introduced the proposal to list the Antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) in Appendix I (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.7), referring to its endangered status and importance for the Ngāi Tahu, a Māori indigenous tribe in New Zealand. Uruguay, the EU, India, and the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) supported the proposal. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Oceanic White-tip Shark: On Thursday, Brazil introduced the proposal to list the Oceanic white-tip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) in Appendix I (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.8/Rev.2), referring to its critically endangered status and it being targeted for its fins and meat. Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, the EU, New Zealand, and Senegal supported the proposal. The COW agreed to the proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Smooth Hammerhead Shark: On Thursday, two proposals with different geographical scope to list the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) in Appendix II (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.9 (a) and (b)), were introduced: one by Brazil for the regional population occurring in the exclusive economic zones of Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and adjacent international waters, and one by the EU for all populations worldwide.

While many parties supported a global listing, Australia opposed the listing for its population, lamenting that it had not been duly consulted, and argued that the population in Australian waters does not meet the migratory criterion. The COW called for a vote: With 9 in favor, 47 opposed, and 5 abstentions, Australia’s proposal was rejected. In the subsequent vote, the EU’s global listing proposal was approved with 58 in favor, 1 opposed, and 3 abstentions. In both votes, the EU voted with 28 votes, including for the UK, while several votes by other parties could not be counted due to unconfirmed credentials. The COW agreed to the EU proposal and forwarded it to the COP.

Tope Shark: On Thursday, the EU, supported by several NGOs, introduced its proposal to list the tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) in Appendix II (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.1.10). Australia expressed disappointment to not have been consulted on this listing, contending that the Australia/New Zealand population does not meet the definition of migratory, and described the species’ movements as “dispersal.” She questioned the validity of the EU study. With consensus not forthcoming, the proposal to amend the proposal was put to a vote, but was rejected, with seven in favor, 40 against, and 10 abstentions. Australia then withdrew its opposition to the global listing, and the original proposal was approved for consideration by the COP.

Guidelines for Preparing and Assessing Proposals for the Amendment of CMS Appendices: On Thursday, the Chair of the Scientific Council introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.2). New Zealand, supported by Israel and Australia, proposed adding a requirement that parties making listing proposals consult with all range states. A contact group was established to discuss the matter.

On Saturday, Israel reported back on the contact group noting consensus was reached. The COW adopted the resolution and decision as revised and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP27.2), inter alia: interprets the term “endangered,” as meaning “facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.” In the interpretation of the term “migratory species,” “cyclically” relates to a cycle of any nature; and “predictably” implies that a phenomenon can be anticipated to recur in a given set of circumstances, though not necessarily regularly in time. The resolution urges proponents to consult with, as far as possible, range states and their relevant authorities before the proposal is submitted.

In the decision, the COP calls on the Scientific Council, to develop, as practical guidance for CMS parties, interpretations for when the terms “range state” and “vagrant” apply.

Disaggregation of Bird Families and Genera listed under Appendix II: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.3). The COW noted the document. On Saturday, the COP noted the document and the offer of the Scientific Council to work during the intersessional period to provide advice to COP14 on the advantages and disadvantages of the various ways of treating the species currently aggregated under families or genera under Appendix II.

Reservations with respect to Amendments to Appendices I and II of the Convention: On Wednesday, the EU introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.27.4). Israel highlighted that reservations undermine the goals and effectiveness of the Convention and proposed the inclusion of language to that effect. On Saturday, the COW adopted the revised resolution and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The resolution (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP27.4) stresses that reservations with respect to an amendment to Appendix I or II must be submitted by notification in writing to the Depositary Government within 90 days after the meeting in accordance with Article XI, paragraph 6 of the Convention.

Implementation of the Concerted Action Process

Progress in the Implementation of Concerted Actions: On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28) outlining the approach proposed by the Scientific Council to address the mandate. The COP agreed and approved reports on Concerted Actions on:

  • European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.1);
  • Sperm Whales of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (Physeter macrocephalus) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.2);
  • Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (Sousa teuszii) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.3);
  • Humpback Whales of the Arabian Sea (Megaptera novaeangliae) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.4);
  • Angelshark (Squatina squatina) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.5);
  • Mobulid Rays (Mobulidae) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.6);
  • Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.7(a) and (b)); and
  • Asian Population of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.1.8).

New Proposals for Concerted Actions for the Triennium 2021-2023: On Thursday, the COP approved new proposals for concerted actions on:

  • Nut-Cracking Chimpanzees of West Africa (Pan troglodytes) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.1/Rev.1);
  • Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.2/Rev.1);
  • Giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.3);
  • Sahelo-Sahraran Megafauna: Scimitar-Horned Oryx (Oryx Dammah), Addax (Addax Nasomaculatus), Dama Gazelle (Nanger Dama), Slender-Horned Gazelle (Gazella Leptoceros), Cuvier’s Gazelle (Gazella Cuvieri), Dorcas Gazelle (Gazella Dorcas), Red-Fronted Gazelle (Eurdorcas Rufifrons), and Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus Lervia) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.4);
  • Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.5);
  • South Asian River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.6/Rev.2)
  • Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the Baltic and Iberian Peninsula (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.7);
  • Common Guitarfish (Rhinobatos rhinobatos), Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) and Smalltooth Sawfish (Pristis pectinata) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.8). The EU asked for it to be noted that it should not become precedent for single-state action being understood as “concerted action”;
  • Common Guitarfish (Rhinobatos rhinobatos) and Bottlenose Wedgefish (Rhynchobatus australiae) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.9);
  • Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.10);
  • Bengal Florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis bengalensis) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.11); and
  • Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) (UNEP/CMS/COP13/Doc.28.2.12)

Gandhinagar Declaration on CMS and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: On Thursday, the COW presented the draft Gandhinagar Declaration. Brazil and the EU voiced concerns that aspects of the declaration pre-empted results of ongoing negotiations, proposing amendments in this regard. A contact group was established to discuss the matter.

On Saturday, the Secretariat introduced the document (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP1/Rev.1). Brazil requested the preambular text focus on the contribution of biodiversity to climate change adaptation, while the EU requested that this also recognize its contribution to mitigation and alleviating poverty. Argentina entered a reservation to the proposed text. WCS, on behalf of several NGOs, highlighted the need to include ecosystem integrity, connectivity, and intactness, and to have this backed by means of implementation. The COW accepted the revised declaration and forwarded it to the COP.

Final Outcome: The Gandhinagar Declaration (UNEP/CMS/COP13/CRP1/Rev.2) affirms that maintaining and restoring ecological connectivity is one of the top priorities for CMS, and calls for ecological connectivity and the important role of the CMS Family in this regard to be effectively reflected in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The Declaration, inter alia:

  • calls for the GBF to include a clear commitment for international, regional, bilateral, and transboundary cooperation for its implementation and for improving ecological connectivity;
  • calls on parties to ensure that the GBF effectively addresses the conservation needs of endangered species and species with an unfavorable conservation status, whose survival is a key indicator of sustainable development;
  • recommends that the GBF include effective actions to address direct and indirect drivers that threaten migratory species and their habitats;
  • recommends that the GBF consider the status of migratory species as a potential indicator of progress towards achieving it, including goals and targets on ecological connectivity;
  • recommends that the GBF calls for the inclusion in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans of parties’ priorities to protect migratory animals and conserve and restore the ecological connectivity of ecosystems needed to support their movements on land, in the air, and at sea; and
  • emphasizes that the GBF will be of little value if it is not followed by strong implementation and supported by adequate means of implementation

Closing Sessions

The COW resumed Saturday morning to approve the remaining conference room papers (CRPs) and forward them to the COP for adoption. The COP then convened.

Report of the Credential Committee: Saudi Arabia, Chair of the Credentials Committee, reported that 82 parties attended the COP and 63 parties’ credentials were in order.

Report of the Session and Committees: COW Chair Barirega confirmed that all reports had been approved by the COW, and thanked the respective Chairs.

Adoption of Resolutions, Decisions and Amendments to the Appendices: The COP adopted by consensus all resolutions, decisions, and amendments to the appendices forwarded from the COW.

Adoption of the Report: The CMS COP13 report was adopted without amendment.  

Closure of the Meeting: In her closing remarks, South Africa lamented the loss of migratory species that will go extinct if no urgent action is taken. The EU underscored the escalating threats facing biodiversity, and that listings of species in the CMS appendices should not be celebrated but rather catalyze greater action. The COP was gaveled to a close at 5:18 pm.

A Brief Analysis of COP13

“Where there is love there is life.”—Gandhi

The unifying spirit of Mahatma Gandhi appeared to inspire parties at the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) in Gandhinagar, a city named after the Indian activist who championed freedom for all beings. The country’s legendary ethos of hospitality, atithi  devo bhava, meaning “treat your guest as god,” was felt by all who attended, and the impeccably organized, strictly vegetarian, and mostly plastic-free gathering proved that a large international COP can truly “walk the talk” by conducting its business in a style congruent with its reason for being, namely the protection of the planet’s migratory species and their habitats. This life-cherishing ethic was also evident as delegates added 10 new aquatic, avian, and terrestrial species to the Convention’s appendices, and agreed to groundbreaking resolutions on insect decline, light pollution, linear infrastructure impacts, the conservation implications of animal culture, and more.

The mission of CMS COP13 couldn’t be more important, given that species are being lost at a rate exceeding that at any other point in recorded history, per the 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and that the population of most migratory species on the CMS Appendices are declining. Adding a sense of mission to this sobering statistic is the fact that 2020 brings a once-in-a-decade chance to potentially reverse the trend. CMS COP13 was the first in a series of biodiversity-related meetings that will culminate with the Convention on Biological Diversity’s upcoming COP15 in Kunming, China, in October 2020, where a post-2020 global biodiversity framework is expected to be adopted, and with it the future of the planet. CMS COP13 gave parties an opportunity to strongly advocate for vital concepts such as ecological connectivity and international cooperation to be embedded within the global biodiversity agenda, to the benefit of both the climate and ecological and human communities. “We’re at a critical crossroads for sustainable development and biodiversity conservation,” as CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel said in the Stakeholder Dialogue that preceded the COP. “This is our chance to get it right.”

This brief analysis considers the outcomes of COP13 in the context of the biodiversity crisis, ongoing financial challenges hindering the Convention’s work, and the “super year” for biodiversity.

Science as Politics: Species listings and CMS governance challenges

With the vast majority of species listings proposals meeting little resistance at COP13, those that did spark debate were noteworthy for the larger CMS governance shortcomings they exposed. In the case of the proposed listings in Appendix II of the smooth hammerhead shark and tope shark, for example, scientific data was enlisted in support of both the “for” and “against” camps, testifying to the challenge of pointing to science as a source of supposedly neutral and objective truths. Brazil and the European Union (EU), who proposed the smooth hammerhead shark listing and the EU who proposed the tope shark listing argued that these species met the listing criteria based on scientific data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Australia—and New Zealand for the tope shark—opposed the listings and argued that their subpopulations should be exempt for failing to meet the definition of “migratory,” claiming “the science is on our side” because the CMS Scientific Council agreed with their analysis. Both species were ultimately listed, but not without Australia and New Zealand crying foul over the fact that the EU hadn’t consulted them when drafting the listing proposals. CMS has established guidelines for preparing and assessing proposals for listing species in its appendices. These urge parties to consult with all range states for the species concerned, but such consultation is not mandatory, to the chagrin of some.

Another governance debate at COP13 concerned the potential for conflict between CMS and CITES. While CMS is concerned with the protection of migratory species and their habitats, CITES is concerned with the legal and illegal trade of wildlife. When species are listed in CMS Appendix I, their trade is prohibited except under a narrow range of circumstances: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the affected species, to accommodate the needs of traditional subsistence users of such species, or if called for by extraordinary circumstances. However, if a CMS Appendix I-listed species is not similarly shielded from trade under CITES (which would require it being listed in CITES Appendix I), the legality becomes less clear: trade is forbidden under CMS, but not under CITES. Parties disagreed about the extent to which trade under CITES truly poses a risk to CMS Appendix I-listed species, but agreed the issue was worth examining, for it could mean parties face challenges accounting for both CMS and CITES into their national legislation. They ultimately tasked the Secretariat with conducting a complete analysis on the matter for consideration at COP14, and to meanwhile prepare and publish on the CMS website a list of species included on CMS Appendix I but not CITES Appendix I.

Of course, listing species in either or both Conventions is no guarantee of positive conservation outcomes. Indeed, a preliminary CMS report on the conservation status of migratory species presented at COP13 flagged alarming declines in populations of most CMS appendix-listed species. This report, which reviews the conservation status of migratory species and the relative impacts of various threats, was intended as a precursor to a regular CMS flagship report, “State of the World’s Migratory Species,” in the vein of the headline-grabbing reports of IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Such a high-profile report would draw considerable media attention to the plight of migratory species and their habitats, and to the Convention’s work to protect and restore them, raising the prominence of the Convention and enabling it to have greater political will and a concomitant increase in funding.

But it takes money to raise money, and this flagship report was not included in the core budget adopted at COP13. As a result, only a precarious reliance on voluntary contributions will enable CMS to complete the report, not to mention other work critical to the Convention’s success, including the analysis of national reports. The UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre compiled and presented the first such analysis at COP13, highlighting main successes and challenges reported by parties, as well as major threats and pressures facing migratory species. Stakeholders hailed it for providing invaluable insight into on-the-ground implementation of the Convention, yet future analyses are subject to voluntary contributions.

Tears for Arrears: Dire straits for CMS financing and implementation

All multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) face financial challenges, but CMS in particular is facing an “unprecedented level” of arrears. As of November 2019, contributions amounting to about EUR 1 million remain unpaid. CMS achieves amazing things on a “lean and mean” budget of EUR 3 million per year, but there are limits to the Secretariat’s ability to economize without compromising its work, and this is exacerbated by unpaid and unpredictable contributions from parties. Without financial stability, the continued operation of the Secretariat is severely compromised, yet parties at COP13 protested against proposed measures to rectify the situation.

COP12 requested the Executive Secretary to explore innovative approaches for resolving the issue prior to COP13, and what was suggested included that representatives from countries with contributions in arrears of three years or more be denied the right to submit any meeting documents, including listing proposals. Many parties favored the idea, with one stressing that not paying arrears “needs to hurt,” and another noting that “parties in arrears are preventing the execution of the current Programme of Work, so we don’t want to see additions to that Programme coming from those countries.” Nevertheless, the text was struck from the draft resolution during working group discussions, perhaps evidence that continuing to engage parties within CMS is seen as more valuable than their outstanding dues. But what, then, can halt what CMS Executive Secretary Fraenkel cautioned could become a financial “downward spiral”?

Meanwhile, it was revealed in the Committee of the Whole that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) contribute more than USD 20 million annually to CMS-related migratory species work globally—more than six times the total CMS budget. “Civil society is fundamentally driving, facilitating, and implementing conservation action in the field,” as one NGO put it, “while states are often failing to turn conservation decisions into practice.” NGOs and civil society used this fact to justify their request for a more formal and prominent role within CMS, as did the first-ever proposal for a Concerted Action (for the Baltic porpoise) submitted by NGOs alone and adopted by the COP. However, some parties have pushed back on enhanced NGO involvement, suggesting that only parties, as those bound by the rules and responsibilities set out in the Convention, should guide its work.

In a decision on synergies and partnerships that may allay such concerns, the COP asked the Secretariat to explore options for a special accreditation for NGO partners to CMS. Given the fact that the Chair of the Budget Working Group reported to plenary, with a certain note of horror in his voice, that, for the first time in the Convention’s history, the option of actually reducing the budget was discussed, parties may have already become too reliant on civil society picking up the slack. 

The Future Depends on the Present: Ecological Connectivity and the 2020 “Super Year” for Biodiversity

Infused throughout the COP13 agenda was the concept of ecological connectivity, essential for migratory species whose life journeys span long distances and require habitat protection in the form of corridors, flyways, and swimways. As a representative of BirdLife International pointed out, “The investment one country makes in protecting migratory species can be futile if their habitat is damaged elsewhere,” providing a major incentive for transboundary cooperation. Connectivity is therefore a means by which multiple countries can agree on shared conservation goals beyond national plans and priorities, but the concept is equally germane for cooperation among biodiversity-related MEAs. Likening them to being “all part of the same tree,” the  Ramsar Convention Secretary-General said during the High-Level Segment that “Conventions should be armed branches that implement the collective ambition” that the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will provide. Additionally, looking at global challenges through the lens of ecological connectivity can contribute to efforts addressing climate change, land degradation, and poverty.

Then again, framing the conservation of migratory species and their habitats as a climate change and sustainable development imperative is an approach that risks losing sight of the very creatures at the core of the Convention. During the High-Level Segment, participants debated what motivates people, and therefore governments, to take action on biodiversity and habitat loss. CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel noted that people care about and connect with species more than abstract concepts like “sustainable development.” She recounted a story shared at the Stakeholder Dialogue, about how villagers in northern India were convinced to stop killing the Amur falcon because they learned people in South Africa await their arrival, because the birds devour termites in their fields. They realized that people just like them, thousands of miles away, depend on the birds and changed their behaviors accordingly. In addition to linking migratory species conservation with climate and the Sustainable Development Goals, Fraenkel argued that CMS needs to do what it does best, namely focus on species and their habitats. “Species matter. They touch people’s hearts,” Fraenkel explained, “and they’re embedded in human cultures and spiritual practices.”

Indeed, as participants observed, extending the legendary hospitality they experienced in Gandhinagar to all migratory species—by viewing them as divine guests throughout their ranges—is the sort of consciousness change required on a massive scale. But how to bring it about? It was stressed time and again that migrating key concepts from CMS’ Gandhinagar Declaration—especially ecological connectivity and transboundary cooperation—into the post-2020 global biodiversity framework is crucial. Given any framework is only as valuable as its implementation, much of the COP focused on adequate funding, and on the heavy price migratory species and their habitats are paying for the world’s current economic connectivity.

The fear was expressed that eventually, that very economy will suffer if the natural systems that underpin it falter. As one of the many Gandhi quotes shared at this COP puts it, “The earth provides enough to satisfy every person’s needs, but not every person’s greed.” There was widespread agreement that CMS must celebrate the intrinsic value of migratory species—their singular magnificence and right to exist, their quirks and cultures—while making clear the fundamental connection between future human prosperity and the ecological integrity of the world. As one delegate concluded: “If we succeed, 2020 could truly be a ʻsuper yearʼ for biodiversity.”

Upcoming Meetings

Second meeting of the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Framework: This meeting will continue deliberations on the post-2020 framework.  dates: 24-29 February 2020 location: Rome, Italy  www: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020

1st Meeting of the AEWA European Seaduck International Working Group: The Working Group is tasked with coordinating the implementation of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) International Single Species Action Plans for the Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and the Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca), which were adopted at AEWA MOP6 and AEWA MOP7, respectively.  dates: 24-26 March 2020  location: Isle of Vilm, Germany  www: https://www.unep-aewa.org/en/meeting/1st-meeting-aewa-european-seaduck-international-working-group

AEWA Action-Planning Workshop for the Common Eider: The AEWA action-planning workshop for the Common Eider is hosted by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the regional Government of Åland and is being organized by the Finnish Wildlife Agency. dates: 21-23 April 2020  location: Mariehamn, Finland www: https://www.unep-aewa.org/en/meeting/aewa-action-planning-workshop-common-eider

CBD SBSTTA 24: The 24th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) will focus on scientific and technical matters in preparation for CBD COP 15.  dates :  18-23 May 2020  location: Montreal, Canada  www:  https://www.cbd.int/meetings/SBSTTA-24

CBD SBI 3: The third meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) will address matters related to the administration and implementation of the Convention and its Protocols.   dates :  25-30 May 2020  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/SBI-03

IUCN World Conservation Congress: The IUCN World Conservation Congress will bring together leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.   dates :  11-19 June 2020  location: Marseille, France  www: https://www.iucncongress2020.org

CITES AC/PC: The 31st meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Animals Committee (AC31) and the 25th meeting of the CITES Plants Committee (PC25) will hold separate sessions as well as a joint session. dates: 13-23 July 2020  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www: https://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/notif/E-Notif%202019-056.pdf

Third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Framework: This will be the third open-ended working group meeting aimed at developing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  dates: 27-31 July 2020 location: Cali, Colombia (TBC)  www: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020  and https://www.cbd.int/meetings/

CITES SC73: The seventy-third meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC73) will convene to provide policy guidance to the Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention and oversees the management of the Secretariat’s budget. dates: 5-9 October 2020  location: Geneva, Switzerland  www: https://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/notif/E-Notif%202019-056.pdf

CBD COP 15, COP/MOP 10 to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and COP/MOP 4 to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing: The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the tenth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 10) and the fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (COP/MOP 4) are expected to address a series of issues related to implementation of the Convention and its Protocols, and adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  dates: 15-28 October 2020  location: Kunming, China  www:  https://www.cbd.int/meetings/

UNEA-5: The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly will be preceded by the fifth meeting of the Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives from 15-19 February 2021. dates: 22-26 February 2021 location: Nairobi, Kenya  www: http://web.unep.org/environmentassembly/

CITES CoP19: The 19th meeting of the  CITES Conference of the Parties will meet in Costa Rica. dates: to be determined in 2022  location: Costa Rica  www: www.cites.org

CMS COP14: The next meeting of the CMS Conference of the Parties is expected to take place in 2023. dates: to be determined  location: to be determined  www: https://www.cms.int/  

For additional upcoming events, see http://sdg.iisd.org/

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