Outcomes of the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Geneva, 1997)
PRESS RELEASE: GOVERNMENTS REINFORCE SPECIES CONSERVATION EFFORTS
Bonn Convention World Conference highlights serious threats for the survival of migratory animals
The member States of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS or Bonn Convention) have called for increased concerted and coordinated action to safeguard a growing number of migratory animals that are threatened with extinction, mostly due to human activities. Siberian cranes in Central Asia, mountain gorillas in Africa, Mediterranean monk seals, flamingoes, dolphins, albatrosses and marine turtles are among those species which need urgent international protection.
At their recent meeting (Geneva, Switzerland, 10-16 April 1997), the Contracting Parties decided to include twenty endangered species in Appendix I of the Convention. Among these are Andean flamingoes, the La Plata dolphin of South America, and various species of European birds. Appendix I now lists 75 avian, marine and terrestrial species whose continued existence is threatened. Countries participating in the Convention on Migratory Species are required to give them strict protection.
Several other species, including 12 species of albatross, whose conservation status is regarded as "unfavourable", were listed in Appendix II of the Convention, thus requiring the development of specialized international agreements for their conservation.
"Now that we have listed these migratory animals under the Convention, governments must translate their treaty commitments into reality by strengthening national legislation and cooperating internationally through new programmes and agreements" said the Chairman of the conference, Mr. Robert Hepworth, a senior official in the British environment department.
Representatives of 43 Contracting Parties, 38 observer countries and 25 observers from governmental and non governmental organizations, supported by about 40 scientific experts, agreed a strategy to protect species in most urgent need of attention and to prioritize other international conservation measures. Central to this strategy is the promotion of CMS, which will mark the 20th anniversary of its signature in 1999. Agreements concluded under its auspices will show positive results only if a large number of countries whose borders are regularly crossed by migrating animals are bound by common conservation commitments. For this reason, the conference strongly encouraged more countries to join the Convention, in order to assume their share of the global responsibility for conserving migratory wild animals.
Diffusing the aims of the Convention and developing regional Agreements will go hand in hand with targeted efforts in favour of endangered species, which are among the most vulnerable of the world's biological living resources. Substantial seed money was allocated to initiate specific projects in the field for this purpose. Another element of the strategy aimed at encouraging closer co-operation is an innovative model adopted by the conference which will provide for the integration of certain Agreement secretariats within the Secretariat of the parent Convention, based in Bonn, Germany.