Central Asia Emerges as Migratory Species Conservation Leader

Central Asia Emerges as Migratory Species Conservation Leader

Your Excellency Mr. Aziz Ab-du-kha-ki-mov, Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change, Uzbekistan and President of COP14,

Excellencies, Ministers of Environment from Central Asia

Ms. Amy Fraenkel, my dear colleague, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species,

My friend Grethel Aguilar, DG of IUCN, and my friend Musonda Mumba ES of the Ramsay Convention,

Welcome to the High-Level Segment of the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species, or COP14. My deep thanks to the government of Uzbekistan for hosting this gathering.

This unique convention unites us. Like migratory species unite us. A convention, the idea for which was sparked at the 1972 Stockholm Conference, when UNEP was founded. Created just seven years later, almost 45 years ago. Now with 133 party signatories and another 30 government signatories to legal instruments or cooperation frameworks under the convention. Looking back, the Convention has been instrumental in protecting hundreds of species.

Migratory species are natures messengers. Telling us about the welfare of the world of nature. Telling us about the challenges that humanity creates for these migratory beings. Challenges of pollution, challenges of climate change, challenges of fragmentation of landscapes, challenges of walls and barriers, challenges of plastic debris, challenges of ocean traffic and so much more.

Sharks that glide through depths of the ocean. Bats that cluster deep within caves. The snow leopard that roams the mountain ranges of Central Asia. Many species of birds that soar even higher. These magnificent species are indeed natures messengers.

What these species have in common is their drive to move from one habitat to the next. What they have in common is that they are vital to the numerous ecosystems which forms their habitats. What they have in common is that they under threat.

Another commonality is that human boundaries mean nothing to these species. This is why the theme of this COP is Nature Knows no Borders. And why the Convention on Migratory Species or CMS is so important. We cannot protect migratory species without multilateralism. Without unity. Without transboundary cooperation. The CMS and its Parties have shown these traits down the years.

But we must work harder, faster, smarter and with a more united front if we are to protect these species, many of which are in decline. We must focus on protecting, connecting and restoring habitats. Tackling overexploitation. Slowing and adapting to climate change. Reducing environmental pollution, including light, noise and plastic pollution.

These drivers are part of the wider triple planetary crisis: the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste. So, it is important for the CMS to work closely with other multilateral environmental agreements and instruments, such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework gavelled in 2022.

Central Asia has a key role to play in this work. Biodiversity and ecosystem health in Central Asia is essential, particularly for iconic species such as the snow leopard and saiga antelope. So, it is heartening that today you will engage in dialogues on how Central Asia can increase transboundary cooperation and strengthen links with and between multilateral environmental agreements.

To be effective, and amplify our collective impact, we must look beyond the jurisdiction of environment ministries, nations or single agreements, to whole-of-government, whole-of-society, whole-of-world approaches. Central Asian countries can champion the CMS as an important instrument in achieving the targets of the GBF and, of course, the Sustainable Development Goals. Central Asia can showcase the reality that borders are just human constructs. Merely imaginary lines, which every other creature on the planet ignores.

Central Asian nations can take many other steps to improve biodiversity conservation. For example, by creating an IUCN Red List of Central Asia that highlights the status of rare and endangered species. By enhancing scientific collaboration across borders to restore endangered species. By developing ecological corridors and protecting key habitats, including transboundary protected areas. And by ensuring that new infrastructure is built based on a solid ecological understanding of migratory pathways.

UNEP and all our partners are here to support the Central Asian nations, and indeed the world, as they undertake these tasks. We will continue working with all the environmental conventions most of which we at UNEP are privileged to host across the board. And we will continue to provide direct scientific and technical support to nations.

I look forward both to the dialogues today and to the COP itself, which I am sure will deliver strong decisions to protect species that are so essential to planetary health. Because migratory species are indeed natures messengers. And they tell us that Nature knows no Borders.

I thank you.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.

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