Executive Secretary Robert Hepworth was amongst more than
200 delegates who agreed the historic "Kinshasa Declaration"
at the High Level Meeting of Governments and other stakeholders
in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 9 September, 2005.
UNEP's Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, and more than a
dozen African and European Ministers or Ambassadors were
the first to sign the Declaration in a historic ceremony
hosted by the Vice President of DRC.
Hailed in the international media as a 'Kyoto for Great
Apes", the landmark declaration recognizes that man's
closest relatives face a high risk of extinction and that
we have "a moral duty to conserve" gorillas, chimpanzees,
and orangutans as flagship species for future generations.
For the first time, Governments in range and donor states,
voluntary bodies, UN bodies including UNEP, and Conventions
like CMS, have come together through the GRASP Partnership
to make a united commitment. The Kinshasa Declaration commits
them not only to reduce the rate of great ape losses in
line with the WSSD Biodiversity target of 2010, but also
to secure the future of all species and subspecies of great
apes in the wild by the year 2015 through various measures
such as a series of site and corridor protection measures,
improved law enforcement and poverty-reduction strategies,
including ape-related ecotourism.
Before joining CMS as Executive Secretary in 2004, Robert
Hepworth helped to launch the GRASP partnership in 2001
and headed UNEP's GRASP unit for its first 3 years. Retaining
his links with GRASP, he has working with several CMS partners
to produce an Agreement and Action Plan for African gorillas
under Article IV of the Convention over the last year. The
new CMS project, which is designed to promote the protection
of transfrontier areas, capacity building and inter-state
scientific and technical co-opertaion, has attracted several
co-sponsors : the Joint UNEP/UNESCO GRASP Secretariat, the
International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) and
the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, Belgium.
Both Italy and the United Kingdom have provided funds, ad
discussions are under way to bring other partners into the
Announcing the project in his speech at Kinshasa, Robert
Hepworth said "We are sending a strong message by illustrating
how, through the conservation and sustainable use of endangered
species like gorillas, it is possible to reduce biodiversity
loss, improve local economies, and enhance livelihoods.
Ecotourism has an important role to play in conservation
as part of the earnings go to wildlife authorities, help
implement action plans, ensure the effective guarding of
protected areas, create income and reduce pressure from
poaching, bush meat hunting and illegal logging"
The Executive Secretary also congratulated the government
of the Democratic Republic of Congo for their energy and
commitment in hosting the conference, which he described
as a "personal dream come true".
from Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary, UNEP/CMS Secretariat
at the 1st Intergovernmental Meeting on Great Apes, 5-9
September 2005, Kinshasa, DR Congo
and documents for the meeting
Web Coverage of the Meeting
on the "CMS Mountain Gorilla Safari” in Rwanda
immediately after COP 8