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Foreword by Ms. Amy Fraenkel, CMS Executive Secretary

This year began on a high note for CMS, with the thirteenth meeting of the CMS Conference of the Parties (COP13) in February, hosted by the Government of India in splendid facilities in Gandhinagar. The CMS COP was set to kick off the “super year for nature”, a year which was to culminate in the adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in China.

There were many important outcomes of COP13 to further the work of CMS. COP13 also adopted the ‘Gandhinagar Declaration’, setting out CMS priorities for the Post-2020 GBF, including the importance of ecological connectivity. A report on all the events at COP13 can be found on the dedicated COP13 Newsroom.

Less than a month later, the world had changed dramatically, as countries went into lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

During this unusual and challenging time, the CMS Secretariat has continued to carry out its mandate and find new and innovative means to do so.   New communication technologies are making ‘virtual’ meetings more feasible and are helping to reduce our carbon footprint.  The Secretariat successfully utilized such platforms to hold numerous important meetings, including the 9th Meeting of Parties to ASCOBANS in September. We also organized a virtual meeting to monitor the Action Plan of the South America Grassland Bird MOU and held the second meeting of the Signatories to the Bukhara Deer MOU.  The CMS Energy Task Force held its fifth meeting, which reviewed performance over the period 2018-2020 and planned the next phase of work for 2021-2024. 

The Secretariat also focused on securing financial resources, partnerships and other arrangements needed to begin implementation of its ambitious Programme of Work. We are deeply grateful to all of the donor countries and partners who have supported our work thus far. The Secretariat also become actively engaged on the links between zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 and the overexploitation of wild animals and habitat destruction and fragmentation.  People turned increasingly to nature to find peace and connection, and in both May and October, CMS and AEWA jointly organized virtual World Migratory Bird Day celebrations, which involved CMS Parties and partners around the world. 

We are looking forward to the coming year, which is certain to be a busy one. We will be organizing meetings of the Standing Committee and the Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council. We will participate actively in the shaping of the Post-2020 GBF.  And we will deepen our efforts to implement the many different areas of work that have been entrusted to us.   

On behalf of the CMS Secretariat, I wish you all a wonderful, restful and healthy holiday season, and look forward to continuing our work together in the coming year.

  IN THE MEDIA - Opinion Piece

Actions Needed to Protect Wild Species and Natural Habitats

The UN Summit on Biodiversity was meant to galvanize commitments to stop the impending biodiversity crisis, and to underscore the need for effective actions in a new Global Biodiversity Framework.  Few could predict that it would take place in the middle of a deadly global pandemic -- which in all likelihood was brought about by human activities that exploit wild animals and nature.  

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CMS to Join the Second Phase of CounterMEASURE to Investigate Impact of Plastic Pollution on Migratory Species

The CMS Secretariat will be working with CounterMEASURE to investigate the impact of plastic on migratory species in Asian River Basins. CounterMEASURE’s first phase helped fill gaps in knowledge on the origins of plastic pollution in Asian rivers.

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Better Protection for Europe’s Dolphins and Porpoises Agreed at ASCOBANS MOP9

The 9th Meeting of the Parties (MOP9) to ASCOBANS concluded last Friday, 11 September 2020. New resolutions were adopted on the critically endangered Harbour Porpoise population of the Baltic proper, on marine debris and on food availability and resource depletion.  Delegates also approved the Best Practice on Cetacean Post-mortem Investigation and Tissue Sampling and approved amendments to existing resolutions on the conservation of the Common Dolphin, bycatch, underwater noise and responses to stranding incidents.

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Amur Falcon

From Prey to Protected Species: How the Tide Turned for the Amur Falcon

In October each year, communities in the mountainous parts of Northeast India, gather in anticipation of the arrival of a small grey bird, the Amur Falcon, which annually migrates over 30,000 km.

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South Andean Huemul Recorded in Northern Patagonia

A bilateral project funded in the Rio Puelo River Basin of northern Patagonia has confirmed the presence of groups of endangered Huemul or South Andean Deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus) in two sites - Lago Azul and Las Horquetas - Los Patos, part of a cross-border population shared by Argentina and Chile. 

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New Guidelines Help Minimize the Impact of Bycatch of Small Cetaceans

CMS in collaboration with WWF has published Guidelines for the Safe and Humane Handling and Release of Bycaught Small Cetaceans from Fishing Gear, which set out best practice on how to handle and release small cetaceans accidentally caught in fishing gear. 

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Two Calves Born to Reintroduced Addax in Chad

The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced that two Addax calves have been born in Chad. These calves are the first wild-born calves from a herd of 15 Addax, which were translocated from the United Arab Emirates to Chad in November 2019. These new-born calves give rise to renewed hope for the conservation of the Addax, which is on the verge of extinction. Today, only 75 to 100 individuals remain in the wild.

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Living Planet Index - Freshwater Fish

Populations of Freshwater Migratory Fish Have Plummeted in Last 50 Years

The World Fish Migration Foundation and the Zoological Society of London have issued a new report on the status of freshwater migratory fish. The Living Planet Index (LPI) for Migratory Freshwater Fish is the first comprehensive global report on the conservation status of these species.

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European Eel Remains Critically Endangered in Latest IUCN Red List

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has issued the latest edition of its Red List of threatened species. The European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) remains classified as Critically Endangered. CMS is in the process of elaborating an Action Plan for the European Eel, which was added to CMS Appendix II at COP11 in 2014.

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Celebrating the International Day of the Jaguar

At the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) held in Gandhinagar in February this year, Costa Rica, supported by Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, successfully proposed the listing of the Jaguar (Panthera onca) on both Appendices of the Convention. Therefore, CMS welcomes the designation of 29 November as International Jaguar Day and the efforts being made to establish a coordinated regional mechanism to promote Jaguar conservation and create a network of connected sites across Central and South America.

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Join the global celebration! World Migratory Bird Day 2020

Birds can be found everywhere: in cities and in the countryside; in parks and backyards, in forests and mountains, and in wetlands and along the shores. They connect all these habitats and they connect us, reminding us of our own connection to the planet, the environment, wildlife and each other. Through their seasonal movements, migratory birds also remind us of nature’s cycles.

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IPBES Launches New Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics

The report of a workshop on the links between the degradation of nature and increasing risk of pandemics has just been released. The workshop was convened by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) with the participation of 22 leading experts from around the world.  The experts conclude that it will be possible to minimize the risks of future pandemics, but a seismic shift in approach from reaction to prevention will be required.

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Statement - The COVID-19 Challenge: Zoonotic Diseases and Wildlife

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW), of which the CMS Secretariat is a member, has issued a statement: “The COVID-19 Challenge: Zoonotic Diseases and Wildlife”.  The statement outlines four guiding principles to reduce the risk of animal diseases that can spread between animals and humans.

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UNEP Report – Preventing the Next Pandemic

The United Nations Environment Programme has just published a report: ‘Preventing the Next Pandemic – Zoonotic diseases and how to break the chain of transmission’. Contributing authors include CMS Executive Secretary, Amy Fraenkel and CMS Scientific Adviser, Marco Barbieri, while Sergey Dereliev, the Technical Officer of AEWA and Suran Gazaryan of EUROBATS served as reviewers.

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IUCN-World Commission on Protected Areas Publishes Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity

The IUCN has just issued a new publication “Guidelines for conserving connectivity through ecological networks and corridors”, as the 30th edition in its Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines series. Ecological connectivity is essential for the survival of migratory species. The definition of ecological connectivity has been endorsed by the Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species as ‘the unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth’.

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