The week long Thirteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP13) together with the associated meetings of the Standing Committee was held at Mahatma Mandir Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India from February 15-22. Its theme was “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home”. The summit was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi through video conferencing and was attended by Union Minister of Environment, Prakash Javadekar, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Minister of State (MoS) for Environment and Forests Babul Supriyo, among others.
- It was the second consecutive COP held in Asia following COP12 in Manila, Philippines in 2017.
- It should be noted that this CMS meet is an triennial event, whose principal decision-making body is COP. Apart from COP , there is also a Standing Committee, which meets every year to oversee the administration of Convention, and a Scientific Council, which provides technical advice through its Sessional Committee.
Logo: It was inspired by “Kolam”, a traditional art form from southern India. The Kolam art form was used to depict key migratory species in India like Amur falcon, humpback whale and marine turtles.
Mascot: The CMS COP 13 mascot was “Gibi – The Great Indian Bustard”. It is a critically endangered species accorded the highest protection status under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
COP13 kicks off “Super Year for Environment” i.e. 2020
COP13 begins the Year 2020: Super Year for Environment. In the year 2020, the international community will seek new deals on biodiversity, nature, and climate change and also prepare a new global biodiversity strategy for the next decade – the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The target is to being reverse the loss of nature by 2030 and restore it to more sustainable levels by 2050. The important summits related to biodiversity and climate change in 2020 are:
- UN Summit in September 2020 in New York, United States (US)
- Biodiversity Leaders’ Summit in New York.
- 15th Conference of Parties (COP-15) in October 2020 in Kunming, China.
- 26th Conference of Parties (COP-26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in November 2020 in Glasgow, United Kingdom (UK).
- Some of the environmental targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will expire in 2020. At the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2020 in New York, countries need to extend them meaningfully up until 2030,
Here are the Key Highlights from CMS COP13:
India assumes presidency of UN body on Migratory Species for 3 years from 2020 till 2023
During the meet, India assumed COP Presidency for the next three years with a focus on collaborative approach to tackle Biodiversity issues. In this regard, PM Modi affirms India’s commitment towards conservation of Migratory species. India will succeed Philippines which was COP 12 President from 2017. As a COP President for the next three years from 2020 till 2023, India will work towards conserving the Central Asian Flyway. A National Action Plan has also been prepared for the same. India will be launching its Marine Turtle Policy and Marine Stranding Management Policy to address pollution caused by micro-plastics in the marine ecosystem.
- India is one of the most diverse countries in the world. With 2.4% of the world’s land area, India contributes about 8% of the known global biodiversity.
- The number of protected areas increased from 714 in 2014 to 870 in 2019.
- The population of tigers in India has grown significantly, and achieved its target of doubling the number of tigers before the committed date.
- India is among the few countries whose actions are compliant with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping rise in temperature to below 2° Celsius.
PM Modi announces institutional research on migratory birds
Prime Minister Modi announced the creation of an institutional facility for undertaking research and assessment for the conservation of migratory birds. Millions of people living near forest areas in the country will be co-opted into the formation of joint forest management committees and eco-development communities for the protection of forests and wildlife.
10 species to be added to protected list; 3 are Indian, among them
The CMS lists the migratory species that are threatened with extinction. The member countries are obligated to protect the listed species throughout their range. Among the ten species added to this list during the Conference, there are three Indian species, viz., Asian Elephant, Bengal Florican, and the Great Indian Bustard.
- Both Bengal Florican and Great Indian Bustard are critically endangered species as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
- Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) are categorised as endangered and have a total population of less than 50,000, more than half of whom live in India. The Government of India has declared Indian elephant as National Heritage Animal. Indian elephant is also provided highest degree of legal protection by listing it in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
- In addition to these, other species to be added to the protection list are Jaguar, Urial, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross, Oceanic White-tip Shark, Smooth Hammerhead Shark and Tope Shark.
At present, 173 species from around the world have found protection under the Convention by being part of Appendix 1 of the CMS.
270 species get ‘rare’ tag
Besides threatened species, several others are marked by sparse population size and restricted range, and are generally considered rare by conservationists. It is documented that 270 species (21%) of Indian avifauna fall under the ‘rare’ category. These include the raptors, pheasants, bustards, hornbills, cranes and storks. These bird species require immediate conservation action as they are prone to extinction.
Giraffe extinct in 7 countries
Giraffes are extinct in at least seven countries with only 100,000 left in fragmented populations across the sub-Saharan Africa. They are declined by 40% over the past 30 year’s means that giraffes are now listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
- Two-subspecies- Nubian and Kordofan giraffe are listed as ”Critically Endangered” and two others-reticulated and Masai giraffe as ”Endangered”.
- Priority conservation measures have been submitted to the Convention on the CMS of Wild Animals by Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
- The iconic six-metre-tall herbivore is now extinct in at least seven: Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.
- An online international giraffe database will be developed to help improve the understanding of the population status as well as the movements of the giraffe.
Animal Culture Linked to Conservation for the first time at UN Wildlife Conference in India
The Convention on the Conservation on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has been spearheading efforts to use scientific knowledge on animal culture, to better protect endangered wildlife. However, it is necessary to develop findings and recommendations that show how this complex issue can be further considered in conservation efforts under CMS. There is evidence that whales, dolphins, elephants and primates acquire some of their knowledge and skills through social learning. To consider conservation measures for the Eastern Tropical Pacific Sperm Whale and the nut-cracking Chimpanzee two such proposals presented to delegates at the CMS COP 13.
Govt proposes 10-year (2020-2030) comprehensive plan for conservation of birds, their habitats
Union environment ministry has come out with a 10-year comprehensive plan for conservation of birds and their habitats in India through multiple measures. It is a visionary perspective plan (VPP) 2020-2030 which listed 15 major programmes, ranging from conserving avian habitats in urban areas to conservation of migratory birds and those would be implemented over the short-term (4 years), medium-term (4-7 years) and long-term (7-10 years) periods. Final document is expected to be released by March 2020. The VPP will be implemented by different stakeholders including ministries, with the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON) being the focal institution for this purpose.
- Similarly, the National Wildlife Action Plan (2017-2031) has also emphasised the necessity of conserving globally threatened migratory birds and their critical habitats along the flyways.
India and Norway to work jointly towards mitigating marine plastic litter and microplastics; Issue Joint statement
Union Environment Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar met a delegation led by Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr. Sveinung Rotevan. India and Norway today agreed to jointly tackle concerns related to oceans, environment and climate matters. They have pledged to work together to address the issue of marine plastic litter and microplastics.
- Norway and India also signed a Letter of Intent on integrated ocean management including sustainable Blue Economy initiatives.
- The two ministers reviewed the progress made under the MoU, for setting up India-Norway Ocean Dialogue and establishing the Joint Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable including the establishment of the Marine Pollution Initiative.
India proposed names of 10 more wetlands for recognition under Ramsar Convention
The Indian government proposed names of 10 more wetlands to be declared as sites of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The new wetlands being proposed for inclusion are – Lonar from Maharashtra which is a unique wetland and the only Crater Lake in the country, a site from Bihar-Kanwar lake, two sites from Haryana which doesn’t have a Ramsar site till now –Sultanpur and Bhindawas. Uttarakhand also has sent a proposal for its first Ramsar site-Asan and the rest are from Uttar Pradesh. If the proposal to include 10 new wetlands is approved by the Ramsar Secretariat then India will have 47 sites protected internationally.
Red Throated Thrush and Plumbeous Water Redstart: Two new bird species found in Ladakh
In Union Territory of Ladakh, two new bird species have been found during the Great Backyard Bird count. The three-day exercise was undertaken by the Wildlife Conservation and Birds Club of Ladakh. Red Throated Thrush and Plumbeous Water Redstart have been found for the first time in Ladakh Region.
- On the other hand, Common Rose Finch and Grey Haron species have arrived in Ladakh region early than usual.
- A three-group birders and wildlife experts have counted and recorded a total of 87 various species of birds in Ladakh.
Report Titled ‘State of India’s Birds, 2020: Range, trends and conservation status released
It was the first comprehensive assessment of the distribution range, trends in abundance, and conservation status for most of the bird species that regularly occur in India. This report was produced as a partnership between the 10 organisations.
Union Minister Javadekar meets Secretary-General of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar held a meeting with Secretary-General of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Martha Rojas Urrego on the sidelines of CMS COP 13. He received certificates for 10 Indian Ramsar sites which were recently declared wetland sites of international importance.
CMS is the only UN (United Nations) treaty that addresses migratory species and their habitats. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also referred to as the “Bonn Convention” as it came into being from Bad Godesberg, a suburb of Bonn, Germany in June 1979. The Convention entered into force on 1 November 1983.
- India has been a Party to the CMS since 1983.
- India has also signed a non-legally binding MOU with CMS on the conservation and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008) and Raptors (2016).
- CMS Executive Secretary– Ms Amy Fraenkel
These are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc. In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme.
-India is a temporary home to several migratory animals and birds. The important among these include Amur Falcons, Bar-headed geese, Black-necked cranes, Marine turtles, Dugongs, Humpbacked Whales, etc. The Indian sub-continent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e. the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water bird species, including 29 globally threatened species.
-India has four biodiversity hotspots – Eastern Himalayas, Western Ghats, Indo Myanmar landscape and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and home to as many as 500 species of migratory birds from across the globe.