Five-day Convention On Conservation Of Migratory Species Concludes In Gujarat

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What is the Conservation of Migratory Convention all about? How will the Gandhinagar Declaration adopted by 78 member nations protect endangered species?

Written By Pragadish Kirubakaran | Mumbai | Updated On:

After the successful completion of the 13th Conference of Parties (CoP 13) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of wild animals, on Feb 22, the committee has now adopted the Gandhinagar Declaration recommending effective actions to address the threat faced by several key species in the ecosystem.

The CMS event was graced by a long list of participants of 130 countries, who all agreed to adopt an Accord - the Gandhinagar Declaration, in which the member states reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining and restoring 'ecological connectivity'. Calling it one of their 'top priorities', members said the declaration was imperative for the 'conservation and sustainable management of migratory species and their habitats.

PM Modi addressed a convention on Conservation of Migratory Species

The five-day-long convention was kickstarted by Prime Minister Modi on Feb 17, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, where he addressed the attendees and ensured that India would take a prominent role in promoting green economy including conservation of mountain ecology with the help of people's participation. Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar was also one of the key guests at the event, who laid down significant proposals and changes to the panel.

Read | PM Modi addresses UN Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species

Another key development was Union Minister Prakash Javadekar assuming the role of President of the UN body on Migratory Species for 3 years. Javadekar addressed the panel and stated that India's presidency in the pact 'will mark the start of focused attention to migratory species and their habitats'

Migratory species and the need for attention

Seasonal changes affect mammals and birds that move from one country to another in search of food, shelter and breeding. They transcend boundaries and migrate from India to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, etc. This invariably makes them vulnerable and exposed to a host of issues such as poaching, trafficking, thereby degrading habitat may lower the chance of survival. Which is why these animals need special attention and international intervention in the form of an Accord or a policy that prioritises the survival of these species.

Read | Conservation Meet On Migratory Species To Focus On Pollution, Insect Decline

India's proposals to CMS at CoP-13

The proposal included three Appendices, namely:

  • Appendix 1: Identifying species threatened with extinction
  • Appendix 2: Listing species in need of global cooperation for favourable conservation status
  • Appendix 3: Facilitate trans-boundary conservation efforts for said species on a global scale

The proposal sailed through the conference after being adopted unanimously by committee members. The three species specifically categorised under India's proposals were the Great Indian Bustard, Asian Elephant and the Bengal Florican. Amongst the member States, a host of 78 countries cleared the proposal except for Pakistan which held back on granting special conservatory status to the Great Indian Bustard.

What is the Convention on Migratory Birds?

CMS is a UN treaty that creates a global platform with a vested interest in the conservation and sustainability of migratory animals and their habitats. Notably, it is the only global intervention convention which actively participates in policy matters related to the welfare of migratory species, their migration routes and habitats.

Formed in 1979 in Germany, it brings over 130 countries together with a key focus on protecting and conserving endangered species and urging international cooperating.

Read | India all set to host its 1st UN biodiversity summit CMS COP-13

India's role in CMS

India has been a party to the CMS since 1983 and has so far signed several MoUs on the conservation of Siberian Cranes, Marine Turtles, Dugons and Raptors. The recently concluded CMS CoP 13 also negotiated initiatives and political commitments including proposals to include 10 new species to this list, for special protection under the CMS. 

Notably, India is a major bird flyway network as it comes in the Central Asian Flyover (CAF) belt, which covers a vast area between the Arctic and Indian Oceans and is home to nearly 300 species of migratory birds among which, 29 are listed as globally endangered. 

An official statement released by CMS announced, 'The new animals included in the list are Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard and the Smooth Hammerhead Shark. The recently signed Gandhinagar declaration will also include concerted actions for the Giraffe, Ganges River Dolphin, Common Guitarfish and Albatross.'

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