Latin American countries are trained to conserve migratory animals

Panama City, 22 September 2015 – The Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is for the very first time organising a capacity-building workshop for Latin American countries that are not Parties to the Convention, with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in Panama City, from 22 to 24 September.

The Latin America and Caribbean region hosts ecosystems with the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.  It is a vast region with a large number of endemic species but is also home to a significant number of migratory species – that travel by land, sea and air.

Lorena Tapia, the Minister of the Environment of Ecuador, the country that hosted the last Conference of the Parties to CMS, commented during the meeting that “the outcome of this event is of great benefit for the rich biodiversity of our planet.  Therefore we shall continue to ensure safe passage for the travellers of the natural world.”

Many countries in the region have made efforts – at a national, regional and global level to conserve their biological diversity.  However, few are party to CMS, despite the fact that species included on Appendices I and II of the Convention are part of their fauna.

Francisco Rilla, Capacity-Building Officer of CMS, explained that “CMS has a unique role to play in the conservation of endangered migratory species.  To be a Party to CMS means that a State can enhance a series of measures – nationally and internationally – that is available to the countries of the region to protect wild animals and their habitats”.

Therefore, the purpose of this workshop is to strengthen awareness of the challenges facing migratory species in the region and to encourage Latin American countries that are not yet Party to the Convention to join.

Mara Murillo, Deputy Regional Director of UNEP, said that “Multilateral Environment Agreements such as CMS are working to support countries, citizens and communities across the world to conserve and protect our natural heritage.  They are an expression of our shared commitment to ensure that human development does not come at the cost of the world’s natural resources”.

CMS in Latin America and the Caribbean

The region is a diverse continent of contrasts with forests, deserts, mountains, woods, plains and the world’s largest wetlands. Thirteen countries are Party to CMS: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

At the same time, other countries in the region have expressed their interest in joining the Convention in the near future, demonstrating the recognition in the region of the need for global cooperation to conserve species and their habitats.

This activity has been kindly sponsored by the European Commission through the Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC) Programme Cooperation Agreements with UNEP.


Why conserve migratory animals?

Migratory species are an important element of biological diversity in the Neotropical region.  As well as their intrinsic value, migratory species provide many benefits and services to people and ecosystems.  Many are essential for subsistence and for the cultures of numerous human populations and they form the basis of activities of economic, cultural and social value.  The remarkable biological phenomenon of migration occurs in many species of birds, terrestrial mammals, whales, turtles, fish and insects.  However, behavioural adaptation of these animals which leads them to cover vast distances in search of places to feed and breed means that they are particularly vulnerable to threats arising from both human activity and natural causes.

A global platform for cooperation and sustainable development

The conservation and sustainable use of migratory species poses a challenge that cannot be addressed through independent action by any given country.  Conservation measures can only be effective if they are carried out in cooperation.  CMS is the only convention within the United Nations whose sole objective is the conservation, protection and use of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species and provides the means necessary to achieve this.  Since its entry into force on 1 November 1983, the number of Parties to it has risen steadily.  With the accession of Brazil on 1 October 2015, 122 countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Oceania are Party to the Convention.

CMS instruments have direct effects on local populations by promoting access to benefits arising from the use of natural resources.  The Convention supports economic activities linked to the sustainable use of migratory species, such as wildlife watching and ecotourism and encourages sustainable use for human food.  CMS and its related agreements complement - and maintain synergistic relations with - other global and regional conventions dealing with biological diversity, for example the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention, the Conventions on Climate Change and Combating Desertification and CITES, among others.

Conservation of the most threatened migratory animals

Endangered or critically endangered species are listed on Appendix I of the Convention.  States seek to provide strict protection to these species conserving or restoring the sites where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling or minimizing other factors that put them at risk.  Besides establishing obligations for each State acceding to the Convention, CMS promotes other priority activities agreed between the Range States of many of these species.

Specially tailored proposals for global and regional solutions

Migratory species most in need of international cooperation or which could benefit greatly from such cooperation are listed on Appendix II of the Convention.  For this reason, the Convention encourages Range States to conclude global or regional agreements.

CMS acts as an umbrella convention.  The agreements can range from binding treaties to less formal instruments such as Memoranda of Understanding and can be adapted to the needs of the regions in question.  Developing models that reflect the particular needs across the migratory range is a unique feature of CMS.  All of the Agreements are based on action plans, sustainable use and concrete conservation. Since 1990, seven Agreements and 19 memoranda of understanding have been concluded under CMS dealing with sharks, marine turtles, aquatic and grassland birds, dolphins and whales and bats.


o   Florian Keil, Coordinator of the Common Information Management, Communication and Outreach Team of the UNEP/CMS and UNEP/AEWA Secretariats Tel: +49 (0)228 815 2451

o   Francisco Rilla UNEP/CMS Secretariat Capacity-Building Officer Tel. +49 228 815-2409

o   Karen Rodríguez Communication and Public Information UNEP/ROLAC Tel.+507 305 3164

o   Alberto Pacheco MEA Regional Focal Point (Biodiversity) UNEP/ROLAC Tel. +507 305 3139

Last updated on 27 January 2016