2003, the first ever conference of Western Hemisphere countries
to focus exclusively on co-operative efforts to conserve migratory
species met at the edge of Puyehue
National Park, Termas de Puyehue, in the Chilean Lake District,
from 6-8 October. It agreed a process to establish
the basis for a hemisphere-wide Initiative on migratory species.
To conceptualise the Initiative’s next steps, the conference
created an interim Steering Committee with regional governmental
representation, NGO membership and membership by interested
intergovernmental organisations. The CMS Secretariat was invited
to sit on the interim Steering Committee.
The interim Steering Committee met in Sarapiquí,
Costa Rica, from 10-13 August 2004. It was 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,
sits on the interim Steering Committee and represent countries
from Southern South America. The US and Uruguay were joined
by other representatives from Meso-America (Costa Rica),
Northern South America (Colombia) and the Caribbean (St.
Lucia). Representatives from the Ramsar Wetlands Convention,
BirdLife International, the American Bird Conservancy and
the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network participated
The Initiative aims at mitigating threats to migratory
birds, terrestrial mammals, marine species and insects while
focusing on local and regional activities. The conservation
of their various habitats, sustainable use as well as the
mitigation of by-catch in fisheries were some of the objectives
discussed by the Steering Committee. Mr Raffaele, said “more
than 20 years have passed in the wait for suitable international
conditions for a hemispheric programme of this kind. Its
time has come.” Before the end of 2004, the document
resulting from this meeting will be submitted to the environmental
ministers of the Western Hemisphere for consideration and
adoption at the upcoming Summit of the Americas scheduled
for November 2005 in Argentina. The initiative will later
be opened for signature to any interested organisation.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Ministry of the Environment
and Energy of Costa Rica, and the Secretariat of the Inter-American
Convention for the Conservation and Protection of Sea Turtles
hosted the meeting.
Mr Lyle Glowka, Agreements Officer, attended the meeting
on behalf of CMS. While there he emphasized that the Initiative
would provide a unique opportunity for States, interested
organisations and intergovernmental bodies such as CMS to
work together on migratory species conservation issues throughout
the Western Hemisphere.
Representatives from 26 countries attended the 2003 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 Congress.
The proceedings from 2003 Conference and information about
the Initiative are available from the
Initiative web site.