Cimatu cites media role in migratory wildlife conservation

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu highlighted the important role played by the media in migratory wildlife conservation during a press conference for the 12th Session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS-COP12) held on Monday at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

According to Cimatu, the information campaign for protection of migratory species and their habitats will not be successful without the help of the media.

“We encourage the media to help us disseminate better the fact that species migration is not only an amazing phenomenon that can be read in books or watched on TV, but is something that actually has a direct impact on humanity through the services they provide,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu was joined in the press conference by CMS Executive Director Bradnee Chambers, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretary General John Scanlon, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw, and UN Goodwill Ambassadors Nadya Hutagalung and Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Chambers said the media play a crucial role in drawing attention to the plight of migratory wildlife species whose numbers are rapidly declining due to unabated hunting and habitat loss.

“The environment belongs in the mainstream, not the periphery,” Chambers told the media personnel who attended the press conference. “We rely on you to spread the message why migratory species are significant and why they remain vulnerable.”

Scanlon, meanwhile, emphasized people’s role in ensuring the survival of migratory species, including those “in trade or potentially in trade.”

He also urged governments to be more serious in tackling wildlife crime.

“Wildlife crime should be treated as a serious crime,” Scanlon said, noting that in some countries wildlife crimes are punishable by at least four years in prison.

Hutagalung, for her part, said environmental leaders are counting on the media in spreading information about the importance of conserving migratory species and their habitats.

“It is through storytelling that you change people’s minds and hearts,” said Hutagalung, who co-founded the “Let Elephants Be Elephants” campaign to fight ivory trade.

Delegates from over 120 countries are in the Philippines for the CMS-COP12 happening from October 23 to 28, marking the first time the conference is held in Asia since the global treaty was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979 and came into force in 1985.

CMS is the only global intergovernmental treaty established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. ### 

Migratory species recognized as ‘shared resource’ by all nations

Environment ministers and representatives from various international organizations, business groups, and civil society have agreed on the need for a global concerted effort to protect migratory species of wild animals, recognizing them as a resource shared by all nations.

The consensus was reached on Sunday during a high-level discussion preceding the 12th Session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS-COP12), happening in Manila from October 23 to 28.

In his welcome remarks, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed hope the international forum attended by environmental leaders from over 120 countries will serve as a “catalyst in bringing wildlife to the center of sustainable development, for the mutual benefit of wildlife and humankind.”

“The presence of each one of us in this forum is a testament to our genuine concern on the urgent need to strengthen existing actions for the conservation of migratory species and to formulate new measures to ensure their continuing survival,” Cimatu said.

“Our participation in this forum likewise affirms our willingness to collaborate towards the attainment of this objective,” he added.

The high-level discussion, held on the eve of CMS-COP12, was a fitting prelude to the conference, as it set the tone for the ensuing discussions and negotiations.

It was attended by CMS Executive Director Bradnee Chambers, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) Secretary General John Scanlon, and Convention on Biological Diversity Executive Secretary Cristiana Pasca Palmer.

Also present were ministers and dignitaries from Africa, North and South America, Asia and Europe, chief officers of international non-governmental organizations, environmental goodwill ambassadors, and representatives of civil society organizations.

Cimatu said the President was “ecstatic” that the event, dubbed as the world’s largest wildlife conference in 2017, is being held for the first time in Asia, particularly in the Philippines.

“Considering the vast and heterogenous landscape of this region, which serves as home to diverse migratory fauna, it is indeed an opportune time for Asia to assume the central role in this conference,” Cimatu said on behalf of the President.

He said the convention’s theme, “Their future is our future — Sustainable development for wildlife and people,” reflects the indispensable contributions of wildlife to sustainable development and the many socio-economic benefits people derive from them, such as food, pollination, pest control, medicinal and genetic resource, and ecotourism.

Quoting the President, Cimatu said “it is our duty to reciprocate, by harmoniously co-existing with all other creatures amidst our continuing pursuit of social and economic progress.”

During the high-level panel discussion, environmental leaders recognized migratory species as a “shared resource,” underscoring the need for “collaboration across all countries in their migratory routes.”

It was also emphasized during the discussion the importance of providing alternative and income-generating livelihood to communities that may be affected by a ban in hunting activities in some countries.

The high-level discussion ended with closing remarks from DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones, who said that a “global shared responsibility to protect migratory species” could be one of the major outcomes of CMS-COP12.

“Countries will not be able to protect their own biodiversity unless there is acollaboration among countries,” Leones said.

“It is only with concerted, cross-boundary efforts to protect these species that we can succeed because they don't respect territorial boundaries," he added.

Adopted by over 120 countries, CMS is the only global intergovernmental treaty established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. ###  

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