CMS COP14 Opening Statement from Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director

Your Excellency Abdulla Aripov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan,

Your Excellency Mr.Aziz Abdukhakimov (Abdul-hakim-ov), Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change, Uzbekistan and President of COP14,

Ms. Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species,

Ministers, Excellencies, and friends.

Welcome to the 14th session of Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, or COP14. My thanks to the government of Uzbekistan for hosting this gathering in the beautiful and historic city of Samarkand. Holding this COP in Central Asia is a milestone for multilateralism and underlines the importance of transboundary cooperation.

I have often observed that this unique convention unites us. Like migratory species unite us. A convention, the idea for which was sparked at the 1972 Stockholm Conference, when UNEP was founded. Created just seven years later, almost 45 years ago. Now with 133 party signatories and another 30 government signatories to legal instruments or cooperation frameworks under the convention. Looking back, the Convention has been instrumental in protecting hundreds of species.

Migratory species tell us how nature is doing. How our planet is doing. Tell us about the challenges that humanity creates for these migratory beings. Challenges of pollution, challenges of climate change, challenges of fragmentation of landscapes, challenges of walls and barriers, challenges of plastic debris, challenges of human activity on the ocean floor, challenges of ocean traffic and so much more.

Sharks that glide through depths of the ocean. Bats that cluster deep within caves. The snow leopard that roams the mountain ranges of Central Asia. Many species of birds that soar even higher. These magnificent species are indeed nature’s messengers. What these species have in common is their drive to move.

The theme of COP14 is Nature Knows no Borders. Whether soaring through open skies, tramping across rolling steppes, or riding ocean currents, these species do not understand national jurisdiction. They go where they must, in so doing helping to maintain ecosystems that support human wellbeing and prosperity.

For over 40 years, Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, or CMS, have worked to protect these species. Despite these efforts, migratory species are in trouble, as shown by The State of the World’s Migratory Species Report, which will be launched in a few hours. This is critical because, despite our efforts, the populations of many of CMS-listed species are declining, driven by overexploitation, and habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. Unless we establish clear precautionary frameworks, population loss will also be driven by new threats, including deep sea mining. These drivers are part of the wider triple planetary crisis: the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste. A triple planetary crisis that the world has yet to come to grips with.

I say this not to be negative, but to emphasise the importance of this convention. The timeliness of this COP. And the urgent need for Parties to deliver strong multilateral solutions that benefit migratory species and slow the triple planetary crisis.

Your decisions will make a difference. And they will be more powerful if the CMS Secretariat and Parties work in tandem with other multilateral environmental agreements. Other commitments and promises parties have made under other conventions. The Climate Convention. The Chemical Conventions. The Desertification Convention. And, of course, the Biodiversity Convention. And let us not forget the upcoming plastic pollution treaty, which is under negotiation. The CMS must be viewed through a larger prism of environmental commitments. Commitments that we have all promised to live up to.

We can see the clear links in the decisions before you. On ecological connectivity, which is a key target under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. On tackling the illegal killing of birds, which needs to see progress made in the Mediterranean expanded to other areas. On noise and chemical pollution in marine environments. And so much more.

So, as this COP considers future strategies, I ask Parties to consider how to work in harmony with other processes for mutually assured success, all in the interests of sustainable economies and societies. In this regard, I am pleased that the CMS Secretariat, and the President of this COP, will be taking part in the upcoming Sixth United Nations Environment Assembly. At this gathering, we are organizing a historic first Multilateral Environmental Agreement Day to boost collaboration and impact.

Equally, the CMS needs every nation on board. We need universal transboundary cooperation to protect species fully. I ask nations that have not ratified the CMS to do so. Finally, for the CMS to continue and strengthen its important work, it needs to be fit for purpose in its core funding. I ask countries with payments in arrears to take the necessary steps to clear these as soon as possible.


Migratory species are in trouble. That puts humanity in trouble. But the CMS and its parties are here to speak for these species. To act on their behalf. And to help them deliver many benefits to humanity. I wish us all a successful COP with strong and ambitious decisions.

I express my deep thanks and appreciation to our gracious hosts here in Uzbekistan once more.

Uzbekistan, through this COP, is showing us that Nature knows no Borders. Let’s live up to this ideal by ensuring free passage of migratory species and by ensuring that, through multilateralism, we reach a hand across every border to ensure long-term sustainability. For people and for planet.

I thank you.

Last updated on 12 February 2024