Wildlife & Biodiversity

Trying to bring as many countries to CMS as I can: Executive Secretary

Amy Fraenkel speaks on the functioning of Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals  

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Friday 21 February 2020

Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), spoke to Down to Earth on the functioning of the convention at the sidelines of the ongoing 13th Conference of Parties (CoP) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Edited excerpts:

Ishan Kukreti: How is CMS different from other biodiversity-related conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)?

Amy Fraenkel: There is no other global treaty that deals with migratory species and their habitat. So we have a responsibility to do our bit, to do what science has told us. Some of our species are in decline and we have to do something about it.

IK: China and the United States of America are not among the 130 member parties. Are efforts being made to bring them into the fold?

AF: I was appointed secretary in January 2020 and one of my top priorities is to bring in as many countries as I can. We are already in talks with many countries. Even when I was the acting executive secretary, quite a few countries joined the convention. A few more are trying to join us. There is no country which is off the radar.

IK: CITES has an inbuilt mechanism to ensure compliance, but CMS doesn’t. Does it impact the convention’s functioning?

AF: We adopted a national review mechanism at the last Conference of Parties (CoP). The mechanism allows parties, non-government organisations, citizens and even the secretariat, to look at the situation. If it appears that there is lack of compliance on the end of a party, they can talk with the country concerned before having a more formal look at the situation. So a process is in place. It is different from CITES, but it's a good tool. Though it hasn't been used to its full potential yet.

IK: CMS was going to undertake an assessment to look at the decline of species listed on Appendix I of the convention. Where does CMS stand on that?

AF: We didn’t get any funding. Our scientific council during CoP12, or the one before that, had highlighted the importance of a report on global status of migratory species. No one else is doing that. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which is a global biodiversity assessment service, is looking at things on a much higher level. While it did look at the species, the statics doesn’t break them down into what kind. It doesn’t tell us whether they are migratory, are birds or mammals. We know our species, but we need to know more about how they are doing, their status in the wild. For that, we need financial support to do it right.

IK: Among the conventions that came out of Rio summit, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) have inbuilt funds. Does the CMS have any such plan?

AF: We have not explored that yet. But if everyone in their strategies include commitments to CMS, we can probably get more consolidated fund from GEF and GCF.


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