Major UN meeting on wildlife to address critical threats to migratory species due to infrastructural development

Feb 17,2020

The Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) opened in Gandhinagar, India today.

  • CMS is the only United Nations treaty that addresses migratory species and their habitats.  
  • The concept of ‘ecological connectivity’ is the top CMS priority for the Post-2020 Framework.
  • Mascot of CMS COP-13 Great Indian Bustard.

 Agenda of the talks:

  • Reasons for species extinction:
  • Roads, railway tracks and fences can create barriers to the movement of animals, many of which are hit and killed by vehicles or trains when attempting to cross, while others get entangled in barbed wire fences and die.
  • Barriers disrupt habitat connectivity and can lead to genetic isolation, driving populations to local extinction.
  • Roads, railway lines, and settlements cutting through habitats can also increase disturbance to wildlife, pollute their feeding areas, and ease access for poachers.
  • Aquatic species face other threats from different types of infrastructure, including coastal developments such as hotels, restaurants, and roads.
  • Turtle nesting beaches are at risk while beaches, seawalls and oil platforms also degrade turtle habitats.
  • Globally, at least 25 million km of new roads are projected for development by 2050, marking a 60 per cent increase from 2010.
  • Similarly, the development of an additional 3,35,000 km of railway tracks is expected over the next 40 years to accommodate demand for passenger and freight travel.
  • Delegates at the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS COP13) will consider the need for guidance and implementation tools to mitigate the impacts of linear infrastructure on migratory species..
  • Ten new species are expected to be added to CMS, including the Asian Elephant, Jaguar and the Great Indian Bustard.
  • These include proposed additions to Appendix I – which provides the strictest protections, for the Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross and the Oceanic White-tip Shark
  • The Urial, Smooth Hammerhead Shark and the Tope Shark have been proposed for Appendix II, which covers migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status and that would benefit from enhanced international cooperation and conservation actions. 
  •  Targeted conservation plans are proposed for 14 species.  
    CMS COP13 will also consider the following, inter alia: 
    ● The need for guidance and implementation tools to mitigate the impacts of linear infrastructure such as roads and railways on migratory species.
    ● A new draft decision to integrate biodiversity and migratory species considerations into national energy and climate policy to promote wildlife-friendly renewable energy.
  • The CMS Energy Task Force, a multi-stakeholder platform, was set up in 2015 to oversee this work.
    ● The new concept of animal culture i.e. learning of animals through socially transmitted behaviour.
    ● Strengthening initiatives to combat the illegal killing, and trade of migratory birds.
  • Illegal killing is the second most important threat to the conservation of migratory birds globally, after habitat loss.  
    ● Targeted action on aquatic wild meat – including shark and ray species – which is a fast-emerging threat.
    ● Further implementation of by catch mitigation measures for marine mammals in national fishing operations.
  • Parties will also discuss the adoption of dedicated concerted actions for 12 different species, including the giraffe, the Ganges river dolphin, the common guitarfish and the antipodean Albatross, Asian elephant,the jaguar,the great Indian bustard and smooth hammered shark.

 Launch of CMS Ambassadors Programme:

  • A new CMS Ambassadors Programme will be launched today to advocate the cause of migratory species and the importance of CMS.
  • Three new Ambassadors will be announced for terrestrial, avian, and aquatic species.  

Special Issue of UN Stamps to feature migratory species:

A special set of stamps issued by the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) in a collaborative project with the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will be presented to delegates at CMS COP13.


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