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Historic breakthrough on migratory waterbird protection

Action plans for nine threatened species of seabirds - among the most threatened birds in the world - have been adopted for the first time at a meeting of parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).


The plans are the first to cover seabirds and multiple species rather than a single one and involve Angola, Namibia and South Africa.


State representatives, IGOs, NGOs, observers and experts took part in the 6th Meeting of the Parties to AEWA, held from 9 to 14 November in Bonn, where the agreement was reached. The meeting was the first biodiversity-related conference following the establishment of new Sustainable Development Goals.


The overall objective of the week-long negotiations was to combine biodiversity conservation with human well-being so as to ensure the successful protection of migratory birds across the African-Eurasian flyway. Capacity-building with local communities in the African region was confirmed as the main action point for future conservation efforts.


The conference also adopted action plans for six priority species. Among them are Grey-Crowned Crane that has suffered a population decline of 80 percent in the past 45 years; the Shoebill which is severely threatened by illegal trade, the Northern Bald Ibis of which only 500 birds remain in the wild; the Taiga Bean Goose which is strongly affected by illegal hunting; the Long-Tailed Duck populations, which have seen their number reduced by 60 per cent due in large part to sea pollution, and the Eurasian Curlew – which is a victim of rapid habitat loss.


Among other key results of the meeting were guidelines being adopted to reduce the environmental impacts of energy sector development on migratory species.


AEWA was concluded under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. Both environmental treaties are administered by UNEP.


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