The Philippines is ending its three-year presidency of the 12th Conference of Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) on a high note with greater international cooperation and coordination to protect migratory species and their habitats.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) made this pronouncement as the Philippines turns over the COP presidency to India at the opening of the COP 13 on February 17 in the Indian city of Gandhinagar.

“As the Philippines ends its term, we take pride that we have successfully strengthened both international and regional cooperation for greater protection of wildlife migratory species and their habitats,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu who shall be reporting the achievement of the Philippines to the CMS COP13 through Philippine Ambassador to India, Ramon Bagatsing Jr.

Since assuming the COP 12 presidency in 2017, the Philippines—through DENR and its Biodiversity Management Bureau and together with the CMS Secretariat, had been busy hosting events during international conferences promoting better protection of migratory species pursuant to the objectives of the Convention.

CMS, also known as the Bonn Convention, is the only global environmental treaty established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It has been adopted by 124 countries under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Cimatu said that during its term as COP president, the Philippines had successfully promoted the CMS agenda in Southeast Asia.

“The integration of CMS resolutions in the promotion of marine protected areas in the ASEAN region and the management of ASEAN Heritage Parks, including sites relevant to migratory species, are key achievements we share with CMS parties,” Cimatu said.

He said the country also effectively integrated the CMS objectives into the framework of Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI), a regional cooperation six countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and the Philippines—with shared jurisdiction over the most diverse marine eco-region in the world.

According to Cimatu, the CMS resolutions on the protection of marine turtles, sharks, rays and marine mammals are now put into action with the implementation of the CTI Regional Conservation Action Plan.

“We will soon realize our vision of connectivity conservation once the Marine Turtle Protected Area Network (MTPAN) is established. This will connect the habitats of marine turtles across Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu noted that the Philippines, through its Protected Area System, manages 15 internationally important sites for waterbirds.

“These sites for waterbirds across the East Asian-Australasian Flyway are designated as Flyway Network Sites, showing how conservation efforts for migratory species interconnect,” he pointed out.

Cimatu also notes the efforts to rehabilitate Boracay and Manila Bay which are important habitats of migratory birds.

With the theme, “Migratory species connect the planet and together we welcome them home,” the COP 13 will highlight the importance of “ecological connectivity” that links biodiversity conservation, economies, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.

High on its agenda is the adoption of proposed resolutions seeking to include 10 new species under CMS protection, including the Asian elephant, jaguar, great Indian bustard and smooth hammerhead shark.

The COP delegates are also expected to draw up a blueprint for the adoption of “dedicated concerted actions” for 12 different species such as giraffe, Ganges River dolphin, common guitarfish and Antipodean albatross. ###