have long marvelled at migratory creatures – whether
the sight of great flocks and herds on the move, or wonder
at the movement itself. But migratory species are not only
something spectacular to behold from afar; they are an integral
part of the web of life on earth. They are essential for healthy
ecosystems, contributing to their structure and function and
connecting one to another. They are the basis of activities
that create jobs and support local and global economies. They
are among the main attractions of ecotourism, contributing
to sustainable development. And in many religious and cultural
traditions, migratory species have enormous significance,
figuring prominently in ritual and lore passed down from generation
Yet, as nomads, they are especially susceptible to harm
caused by the destruction of ecosystems. Migratory species
are also threatened by man-made barriers to migration, and
by unsustainable hunting and fishing practices, including
“incidental capture” in fisheries. Moreover,
human beings tend to underestimate the vulnerability of
migratory species, regarding them as hardy and plentiful.
But if current trends continue, more and more of these precious
species will be brought to the brink of extinction.
The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) was one of the
first global treaties on the conservation and sustainable
use of biodiversity. Its history started with a recommendation
by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
in 1972, which led to its negotiation and adoption in 1979
in Bonn. It has since become an invaluable tool in the battle
against environmental degradation and the loss of biodiversity,
and has spawned more than a dozen regional and global agreements
between the countries through which migratory animals pass.
For 25 years, the Convention has played a crucial role in
protecting and preserving an invaluable natural heritage
for future generations. I call on all Governments that have
not yet done so, to accede to the CMS and its agreements,
so that all countries and peoples are engaged in this effort.
As the world marks this anniversary, let us keep the Convention
itself -- a unique global initiative -- on the move.