COP14 - What to Expect for Migratory Birds

Among the migratory animals covered by the Convention on Migratory Species, a total of 962 species are birds. Their migratory routes span multiple flyways, reaching into every corner of the globe. The threats they face are manifold and include habitat loss, unsustainable and illegal taking, pollution, collisions with man-made structures, and climate change.

Delegates attending CMS COP14 in Samarkand will be discussing several topics specifically related to the conservation and management of migratory birds, such as the illegal taking, trapping, and trade, poisoning, the collision, electrocution, or displacement caused by infrastructures, climate change, and many more. CMS Parties at COP14 will also be considering new proposals for listing species under the Convention and how to better protect migratory flyways.

Focus on Flyways

A large proportion of CMS avian activities are guided by the Programme of Work on Migratory Birds and Flyways 2014 – 2023. A review carried out by the CMS Secretariat and the Flyways Working Group in 2023 identified limited progress towards the implementation of the Action Plan for the Americas Flyways, but positive developments with regards to the Central Asian Flyway, the cooperation with the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and the contribution of the CMS Secretariat, as an observer, in the process of establishing a World Coastal Forum (WCF). 

At CMS COP14 Parties are requested to review the progress made in the delivery of the Programme of Work on Flyways, agree on the role of the Flyways Working Group and the new Flyways Programme of Work. For more information, please see  COP14/Doc.28.4.1/Rev.1.

Central Asian Flyway

At COP14 Parties will consider proposed amendments to Resolution 12.11 (Rev.COP13) that include updates on the work carried out by the Secretariat and the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) Range States to develop a CMS Institutional Framework for this flyway. The CAF covers a large continental area of Asia between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, including associated island chains. Geographically, the flyway encompasses 30 countries in North, Central, and South Asia, as well as the Trans-Caucasus. It includes migration routes across the steppes and cold deserts of Central Asia, and much of the Himalayan chain. The Flyway comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, landbirds, and raptors. Most of these routes extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in the Russian Federation (Siberia) to the southernmost non-breeding (wintering) grounds in West and South Asia, the Maldives, and the British Indian Ocean Territory.

If approved by the COP, the CAF Initiative should foster international cooperation and synergies with other existing CMS instruments in the region, such as the Raptors MOU or AEWA, and most importantly, should approve a Programme of Work for all the migratory species occurring in the region and prioritize conservation and management actions. An example of a species that can benefit from the CAF Initiative is the threatened population of the Great Bustard in Asia.

A side event on the Central Asian Flyway, organized by the Government of India, will take place during COP14.

Great Bustard ©

Illegal Killing of Birds

Parties at COP14 will consider various draft Decisions under CMS COP Resolution 11.16 (Rev. COP13) that address the progress made to tackle the threat posed by the illegal taking and trade of migratory birds through dedicated Task Forces such as the Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking, and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT).

The Mediterranean region is a hotspot for the illegal killing, taking, and trade of migratory birds (IKB) and MIKT is the first pan-Mediterranean task force aimed at facilitating international cooperation and implementing existing guidelines and action plans on this issue.  MIKT now serves as a model approach for other regions of the world facing similar IKB-related issues.

CMS Parties will also consider further steps to improve the implementation of the Intergovernmental Task Force to Address Illegal Hunting, Taking, and Trade of Migratory Birds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (ITTEA) launched in 2023 in Australia and under which several activities have already taken place.

Decisions aiming to expand the successful model of the Mediterranean and Asia-Pacific Task Forces to other regions will be discussed within this Resolution. If approved, these will serve as the basis for the creation of a new Illegal Taking Task Force in South-West Asia, as requested by the Parties in the region.  A meeting held in January 2024 in Saudi Arabia recently discussed how to possibly advance discussions around establishing such a Task Force for South-West Asia at COP14.

For more information, please see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.28.1/Rev.1.

Migratory Landbirds in the African-Eurasian Region

The Action Plan for Migratory Landbirds in the African-Eurasian Region (AEMLAP) includes dozens of CMS-listed species and addresses various threats, such as habitat degradation, climate change and direct and indirect mortality of birds. Over the recent years, research has shown that desertification and direct mortality caused by poisoning and by linear infrastructures are among the top threats to land migrants. 

At COP14, a revised Programme of Work of the African-Eurasian Action Plan, which now has greater detail on the level of activities and priorities needed to improve the conservation status and the management of its species, will be discussed as part of COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.28.2. The document includes proposed amendments to CMS Resolution 11.17 (Rev.COP13), describing the work carried out by the African Eurasian Steering Group and relevant scientific reports, such as the Eurasian African Bird Migration Atlas.

Parties will also discuss Decision proposals linked to the need to use modern technologies like satellite imaging, climate models and interactive bird atlas tools. These tools are crucial for prioritizing and implementing actions for species and habitats across the AEMLAP range.

The AEMLAP is also linked to the identification and implementation of Individual Species Action Plans such as the ones already developed for the Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola), the European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur), and the European Roller (Coracias garrulus), which are included in UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.28.5.1.

A COP14 side event will present work done under the AEMLAP and on the issue of Avian Wild Meat (see section below). This event will be led by the Coordination Unit of the AEML Working Group based at the Swiss Ornithological Institute (SOI), in collaboration with BirdLife International.

Avian Wild Meat

With funding provided by the Governments of Germany and Switzerland, an assessment of the use of bird species as wild meat is currently being undertaken by the CMS partner BirdLife International. The study will summarise the current level of taking of CMS avian species (both land- and seabirds) for the procurement of meat or other wildlife products (such as nests, eggs, etc.) for human consumption. This includes consumption for food or non-food purposes, including "medicinal use," regardless of its legal or illegal status.

At COP14, Parties will consider a proposal for delivering this study within the Range States of the African Eurasian Landbirds Action Plan (AEMLAP), with a focus on key regions such as the Sahel and sub-Sahel, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The assessment is part of the implementation of CMS Decision 13.109 (a) Addressing Unsustainable Use of Terrestrial and Avian Wild Meat of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. 

A COP14 side event on the work of AEMLAP and the issue of Avian Wild Meat will be led by the Coordination Unit of the AEML Working Group based at the Swiss Ornithological Institute (SOI), in collaboration with BirdLife International.

For more information, please see COP14 Document: UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.30.1.3.

Energy and Migratory Birds

Another key avian topic for COP14 will be the work being done under the CMS Energy Task Force (ETF). The ETF brings together governments, multilateral environmental agreements, investors, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations to avoid and minimize the negative impacts of energy developments on migratory species. It focuses on promoting the sustainable deployment or retrofitting of renewable energy installations such as wind turbines and power lines, sharing best practices in energy infrastructure deployment, offering recommendations for addressing specific issues and conducting research to fill knowledge gaps.

At COP14, CMS Parties will discuss draft Decisions contained in Document UNEP/CMS/COP14/Doc.30.3.2 that propose to continue to expand the successful model of the CMS ETF to other taxonomic groups apart from birds. Parties will also discuss decisions focusing on the need to develop powerful spatial planning tools and sensitivity maps that can help identify the best areas to build renewable energy infrastructure without jeopardizing migratory species. An example of such a tool is AviStep – The Avian Sensitivity Tool for Energy Planning. The AviStep module for Uzbekistan, developed by BirdLife International and its partners will be presented to Parties at COP14. The tool is set to become a primary reference in Central Asia for wildlife-friendly planning of energy infrastructure. A side event dedicated to the ETF will be held at CMS COP14, showcasing the work being done by ETF members, including the World Bank and other ETF partners.

Birds of Prey in the Spotlight

A recent report published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution has found that Africa’s birds of prey are facing an extinction crisis. According to the report by an international team of researchers, African savanna raptors such as the Rüppell's Vulture, the Steppe Eagle, and the iconic Secretarybird are showing evidence of widespread and significant population declines, as well as a growing dependence on protected areas across the African continent.

At COP14, CMS Parties will have the opportunity to review the implementation of the Vulture Multispecies Action Plan (Vulture MsAP). The Mid-Term Implementation Review of the Vulture MsAP, which will be presented at a side event at COP14, demonstrates that the Vulture MsAP has delivered positive conservation results in those geographical areas where adequate funding was available and coordination structures were in place. COP14 will discuss the need to improve its implementation, particularly in Africa. For more information on the work being done to conserve African-Eurasian Vultures and the proposed review of Resolution 12.10 and Decisions, please see: COP14/Doc.28.6/Rev.1.

International Single Species Action Plan for the Sooty Falcon

A draft International Single Species Action Plan for the Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor) for the years 2024-2036 (ISSAP) will be introduced at a side event at COP14. This medium-sized, long-distance migratory bird of prey primarily breeds in the North Africa and Middle East regions. It migrates across eastern Africa and the Mozambique Channel towards the south-western and central-western parts of Madagascar to winter. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, and the draft ISSAP aims to reduce its risk of extinction by halting the decline of its population to a point where it qualifies for downlisting to at least Near Threatened. The draft ISSAP proposes a series of actions to address the ongoing decline of the species and the threats affecting its breeding and non-breeding areas. In addition to the draft ISSAP, the Raptors MOU has also prepared a special Fact Sheet on the Sooty Falcon being launched at COP14 as well as library of available literature on the Sooty Falcon.

For more information, please see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc. 28.5.1/Rev.1.

Sooty Falcon © Meidad Goren

West African Vultures Action Plan

At COP14, Parties will discuss draft amendments to Resolution 12.10 and Decisions (please see COP14/Doc.28.6/Rev.1). These proposed amendments focus on the need to develop a West African Vultures Action Plan as a subregional instrument designed to guide West African states in reducing the threat of Belief-Based Use posed to six species of vulture found in West Africa.

The development of the plan was based on internationally recognized Species Conservation Planning Principles, which emphasize maximizing collaboration and consensus-building among all stakeholders involved. The Plan is an excellent example of countries in Western Africa working together to address the illegal taking of vultures.

New Action Plans for Birds

A revised action plan for the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in Asia is being proposed for adoption at CMS COP14 (see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.28.5.3). This action plan compiles the latest research on the current status and threats to the species and identifies and prioritizes conservation actions for the Range States of the species in Asia.

A COP14 side event on the Great Bustard is being planned by the Government of Hungary, the IUCN SSC Bustard Specialist Group, and the Eurasian Bustard Alliance. This event aims to promote engagement in implementing the newly revised action plan and to discuss successes and lessons learned from other parts of the species’ range, including under the MOU for Central Europe.

A new Single Species Action Plan (SSAP) for the Christmas Island Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi), a threatened migratory shorebird listed on CMS Appendix I, is also being submitted to COP14 for endorsement. The action plan was developed by the Australian Government, co-sponsored by the Government of the Philippines, and prepared in consultation with all relevant Range States. It identifies priority actions needed to address the many anthropogenic threats to the species.

For more information, please see COP14 Document COP14/Doc.28.5.2/Rev.1).


A number of cross-cutting issues affecting a wide range of migratory species will also be discussed at COP14. Of particular relevance for the conservation of migratory birds will be CMS COP14 topics such as the new Guidelines on Light Pollution, the new CMS Report on Insect Decline and its Threat to Migratory Animals as well as the discussions around the new Strategic Plan for Migratory Species and the State of the World’s Migratory Species report.

Please see the dedicated page on COP14 Cross-Cutting Issues for more information (under preparation).


  • Proposal for the inclusion of the Peruvian Pelican (Pelecanus thagus) in Appendix I and II of the Convention (see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.31.4.6)
  • Proposal for the inclusion of the Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis) in Appendix I of the Convention (see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.31.4.7)
  • Proposal for the inclusion of the Southern African population of the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis) in Appendix I of the Convention (see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.31.4.8)

Concerted Actions

No new Concerted Actions for avian species are being proposed at COP14. However, CMS Parties will be considering the extension of two previously adopted Concerted Actions under CMS for the following species:

  • Proposal to extend the Concerted Action for the Great Bustard (Otis tarda) in Asia. The Government of Mongolia, the Eurasian Bustard Alliance and the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia have submitted this report on the implementation of the Concerted Action to COP14 for consideration: (see COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.32.2.7)
  • Proposal to extend the Concerted Action for the Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis). The Governments of Australia, Chile and New Zealand have submitted this report on the implementation of the Concerted Action to COP14 for consideration: (see  COP14 Document: COP14/Doc.32.2.8)




About COP14:

The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CMS COP14) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is scheduled to be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from February 12 to 17, 2024. As the Convention's main decision-making forum, CMS COP14 will bring together governments, scientists, and stakeholders to devise strategies for conserving migratory species and their habitats. This meeting is crucial for implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (Biodiversity Plan), adopted in December 2022, and marks a significant global biodiversity event since its adoption (see a summary of most relevant aspects of the GBF to CMS).

At CMS COP14, participants will review new scientific data on threats and conservation priorities for migratory animals, contributing to the Biodiversity Plan's goals. The agenda includes over a hundred items, focusing on enhancing ecological connectivity, mitigating the impact of new infrastructure on migratory species, addressing overexploitation and climate change effects, and tackling emerging threats like light and noise pollution. The conference will also see the launch of several key publications, including the first-ever report on the ‘State of the World’s Migratory Species’, new globally applicable guidelines on light pollution, and best practices for linear infrastructure.

This UN wildlife conservation conference is notable for being the first COP of any global environmental treaty held in Central Asia, a region with extensive grasslands and mountains home to various migratory species, such as the Saiga Antelope, the snow leopard, and numerous migratory birds.

Additionally, associated events like the 54th Meeting of the CMS Standing Committee and the High-Level Segment will occur in the same venue on February 11. The Migratory Species Champion Night is scheduled for the evening of February 12, the opening day of COP14.


Last updated on 14 February 2024