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

The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) and the associated meetings of the Standing Committee will be held in Gandhinagar, India, from 15 to 22 February 2020, under the theme “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home.”

The Conference will bring together CMS parties, partners and scientific experts to address the alarming decline of migratory species, including birds, aquatic species, and terrestrial animals. CMS COP13 is 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 strategy.

Expectations for the Meeting

At COP13, parties will review progress towards:

  • the development of an atlas on animal migration;
  • the implementation of Resolution 11.16 (Rev.COP12) on the Prevention of Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds;
  • the implementation of decisions on Adverse Impacts of Anthropogenic Noise on Cetaceans and Other Migratory Species;
  • the implementation of decisions on Recreational In-Water Interactions, and Sustainable Boat-based Marine Wildlife Watching;
  • the implementation of decisions on the Joint CMS-Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) African Carnivores Initiative; and
  • the implementation of Resolution 11.24 on the Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI).

COP13 will also consider 10 proposals to amend the appendices, including to list the Urial sheep under Appendix II and the jaguar under Appendix I and II. COP13 will also highlight the importance of “ecological connectivity” for prioritizing biodiversity conservation and sustainable use to protect and restore natural areas that are essential not only for wild species but also for the functioning of broader ecosystems that support human needs.

A Brief History of CMS

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, 173 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 Macaronesia.

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.

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 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 improves 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 (GEF); 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, the 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, the 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.

Intersessional Highlights

Flyways Summit: A four-day summit (22-26 April 2018, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) agreed to eight priority areas for flyway conservation, including, sustainable approaches to coastal ecosystem protection, management, and restoration; ensuring that onshore and offshore renewable energy and power transmission sectors take full account of the needs of migratory birds; adopting a zero tolerance approach to the illegal killing, taking and trade of wild birds; recognizing bustards as flagships for the grassland landscapes; highlighting the importance of implementing the CMS Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP) and the need to tackle the threat of poison baits; and scaling-up implementation of the Saker Falcon Global Action Plan (SakerGAP), especially regarding measures to address electrocution.

ACAP MOP6: The Sixth Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MoP6) of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (7-11 May 2018, Skukuza, South Africa) adopted eight resolutions, including the Secetariat’s Work Programme 2019-2021.

AEWA MOP7: The seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP7) to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA, 4-8 December 2018, Durban, South Africa) adopted a number of International Single Species Action and Management Plans. Resolutions adopted included one on AEWA’s contribution to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Agreement’s relevance to the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening the monitoring of migratory waterbirds, guidance on the implementation of the AEWA Action Plan, climate resilient flyways, and financial and institutional arrangements.

EUROBATS MOP8: The eighth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (8-10 October 2018, Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco) adopted resolutions on: monitoring of daily and seasonal movements of bats; wind turbines and bat populations; bats and light pollution; and bats and climate change.

Sharks MOS3: The Third Meeting of Signatories (MOS3) to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (10-14 December 2018, Principality of Monaco) agreed to: list eight species of sharks in Annex 1 of the MoU; a provision regarding lookalike species; a procedure for modifying Annex 1 of the MoU, addressing the listing criteria; and the guidance for MoU Signatories and the Secretariat in their engagement with regional fisheries management organizations.

CAMI: The second range state meeting of the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) (25-28 September 2019, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)  reviewed the implementation of the current Programme of Work 2014-2020; and developed and agreed on a new Programme of Work for CAMI covering the period 2020-2026, and updated Resolution 11.24.

ACCOBAMS MOP7: The 7th  Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS) ( 5-8 November, 2019, Istanbul, Turkey) adopted resolutions on: interactions between fisheries and cetaceans; ship strikes; anthropogenic noise; best practices in monitoring and management of cetacean stranding; assessing marine litter impacts on cetaceans; commercial Cetacean-watching activities; and Global post 2020 biodiversity framework – ACCOBAMS mobilization.

Second Informal Meeting on Connectivity: This meeting took place on 11 November 2019 in Bonn, Germany. Agreement was reached on a definition of ecological connectivity—the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth—and this definition will be promoted by CMS, the Ramsar Convention, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Options were considered for how best to reflect connectivity in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

CMS Scientific Council Meeting: The fourth meeting of the Sessional Committee of the CMS Scientific Council met from 12-15 November 2019 in Bonn, Germany. The Committee assessed the proposals to add species to the CMS Appendices, reviewing progress in the consolidated Concerted Action programme (both existing activities and proposed new ones) and commenting on COP-documents with scientific content. The Secretariat informed the Committee of progress in compiling a report on the conservation status of migratory species listed on CMS Appendices, which should inform decisions by the COP on future action to address the causes of migratory species decline. A working group was established to assist the Secretariat in taking the project forward. The Secretariat also reported on progress in the development of an atlas of animal migration.

49th Meeting of the Standing Committee: The Standing Committee met on 19 November 2019, in Bonn, and was preceded by the meeting of the Finance and Budget Sub-Committee. Parties were asked to consider candidates for positions on the Standing Committee and Sessional Committee, with Australia proposing some amendment to the areas of expertise of the nine COP-appointed Councillors, which have remained virtually unchanged since 1999. The Indian delegation gave a presentation on the progress in the preparations for COP13.

Further information


Negotiating blocs
European Union