leaders of the 38 Western Hemisphere nations met in 2001 at
the Summit of the Americas in Canada and called for “the
development of a hemispheric strategy to support the conservation
of migratory wildlife throughout the Americas”.
To follow up on this challenge, the first gathering of
Western Hemisphere countries to focus on co-operative efforts
to conserve migratory wildlife met at the edge of Puyehue
National Park, Termas de Puyehue, in the Chilean Lake District,
from 6-8 October 2003. Representatives from 26 countries
attended the First Western Hemisphere Migratory Species
Conference, co-hosted by the United States Department of
State and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Conference
met in parallel with the Seventh Neotropical Ornithological
The 60 Conference attendees, which included inter- and
non-governmental organisations, were invited to prioritise
migratory species conservation issues, identify tools to
address the issues and how to implement relevant action
and identify follow-up actions, including recommendations
for a strategy to follow-up on prioritisation needs.
The meeting was very well organised, relied on professional
facilitation led in part by a representative from the IUCN
Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and broke into two
working groups. The first day was devoted to the governmental
representatives identifying priority areas for international
co-operation. The scope of the undertaking was the only
potentially contentious issue. A “synthesis group”
resolved that the scope of the initial work under the initiative
would be migratory birds, to be extended to all other migratory
species within two years.
During the tool identification stage, the CMS Secretariat,
represented by Agreements Officer Lyle Glowka, was given
an important opportunity to describe the Convention, its
operational tools and its achievements over the last 25
years. This provided a foundation for supportive comments
that had been made throughout the meeting about CMS’
possible role from the representatives of those CMS Contracting
Parties that attended the meeting: Argentina, Bolivia, The
Netherlands (represented by the Netherlands Antilles), Paraguay
and Uruguay. The CMS Contracting Parties and the CMS Secretariat
also hosted a CMS briefing session and reception on the
evening of 6 October.
The synthesis group met on the evening of 7 October. It
distilled the results and proposed to the wider group some
follow-up steps that would comprise a strategic way forward.
The Conference agreed to create a process to establish the
basis for a hemisphere-wide dialogue on migratory species.
Its initial focus would be on migratory birds. An interim
Steering Committee was created with regional governmental
representation, NGO membership and membership by interested
intergovernmental organisations. CMS was invited to sit
on the interim Steering Committee.
NGO representation for the Standing Committee was organised
around bird and non-bird themes. Three NGOs will represent
different bird issues: American Bird Conservancy (North
American terrestrial birds); BirdLife International (terrestrial
birds of South America, Meso-America and the Caribbean);
and Wetlands International (waterbirds and wetlands). BirdLife
International and Wetlands International are key CMS partners.
The WWF Central American office will lead on non-bird taxa.
Each country will designate a focal point responsible for
two-way communication with its regional representative to
the Steering Committee.
The interim Steering Committee, which will be chaired by
the United States representing North America under the leadership
of Mr Herb Raffaele, Chief of the US Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of International Affairs. Uruguay, a CMS Party,
will sit on the interim Steering Committee and represent
countries from Southern South America. The US and Uruguay
will be joined by other representatives from Meso-America
(Costa Rica), Northern South America (Colombia) and the
Caribbean (St. Lucia). Among other things, the interim Steering
Committee will be responsible for keeping the process alive,
producing a baseline report on the status of top-priority
needs within the hemisphere, raising money for future meetings,
developing a formula for the future and preparing progress
reports to the summit of the Americas and other intergovernmental
processes and meetings, such as the CMS Conference of Parties.