Biodiversity’s ‘super year’ kicks off


Increased global protection for Asian elephants, jaguars and more

What has been dubbed the ’super year’ for biodiversity kicked off in Gujarat, India, in February, where some 2,500 delegates from more than 80 countries met to debate conservation measures for the world’s migratory species at #CMSCoP13, the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species.

The United Nations (UN) meeting, hosted by the government of India, was inaugurated via live video link by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency also provided a video address in which he observed that the view from space provides clarity on how all earthly systems are deeply connected and crucial to sustaining all life.

The convention, to which 130 countries are committed, is the only global body specialising in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes, and aims to promote and co-ordinate collaborative conservation efforts between the countries through which these species migrate. Born Free became an official Partner Organisation in 2018.

10 species were added to the list of species covered by the convention at the meeting, including the Asian elephant, jaguar, urial (a central Asian wild sheep), three shark species, and several migratory birds, bringing the total number of migratory species covered to well over 1,500.

In addition to the new species that were brought under the agreement, action plans were agreed aimed at improving the protection of Africa’s carnivores, giraffes and chimpanzees, as well as proposals to integrate migratory species conservation into climate policy, combat the illegal killing and trade in migratory birds, and address the unsustainable use of aquatic and terrestrial wild meat.

Plans to extend a unique initiative aimed at integrating consideration of animal culture and social complexity into conservation practice, were also approved. During the meeting, Born Free hosted an event highlighting the importance of culture among chimpanzee populations in West Africa, which was very well received by delegates.

The meeting also agreed the Gandhinagar Declaration, which sets out its vision for ecological connectivity to be a key theme in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will establish global biodiversity policy and associated targets and timelines at a further UN meeting later this year in China.  

Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones, who led the charity’s delegation at the meeting, said: “The positive outcomes from this important meeting have set the scene for the so-called ’super year’ for biodiversity. However, despite some success stories, the populations of most migratory species covered by the agreement are declining, and the world’s wildlife remains in serious crisis. We have to follow this up with real transformative action at global, regional, national and local levels to protect and restore nature and biodiversity, and that should start with concern for the well-being of every individual wild animal. We must succeed, otherwise the consequences for wildlife and people alike will be catastrophic.”

Born Free was also delighted to see long-standing friend and colleague Ian Redmond OBE appointed as the Convention’s Ambassador for Terrestrial Animals.