Good news coming from Manila for the protection of endangered species, their future is our future

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Gordon Kricke (The Philippine Star) - November 8, 2017 - 4:00pm

In Manila all eyes are clearly focused on the upcoming ASEAN and East Asia summits and the arrival of an impressive number of world leaders. This is of course no surprise. There can be no doubt about the importance of the meetings and we all will follow events closely and are keen to learn what will come out of it.

But just a few days ago a very different international conference took place in Manila which attracted much less attention. That is unfortunate because it was a successful event with concrete promising results and the Philippines received praise, both as an excellent host and as an exemplary promoter of the common goal. I am speaking of the “Twelfth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals” which ended on 28th October. Yes, I know the name of the conference doesn’t sound exactly snappy or exciting. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t important. On the contrary, it was a very relevant conference and – fortunately – a quite successful one. Decisions made on that day could offer greater protection to millions of migratory animals, including sharks, lions and vultures.

The convention was launched in 1979 in the German city of Bonn on the initiative of Germany. Obviously migratory species do not know borders and cannot be protected by one country alone. Close international cooperation is therefore necessary and this was the idea behind the creation of the convention. We all know how important it is to protect wildlife. Species are dying out at an alarming rate and their natural habitat is under increasing pressure. It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago with literally dozens of species going extinct every day. Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans.

That shows how important it is to increase efforts to make a turnaround and to protect biodiversity and the environment. There is already a great number of initiatives and projects worldwide and the awareness of the public has improved. But much more has to be done to slow the rate of mass extinction of species. This is also a concern which is very relevant to the Philippines which are one of the most important global hotspots for biodiversity. Germany has been since many years a close partner of the Philippines in the fight against climate change and in the protection of biodiversity.

The conference in Manila brought some hope for endangered wildlife. Participating representatives of 125 governments made a common commitment to step up their efforts to conserve the planet’s migratory wildlife and collectively endorsed actions on the conservation of a wide range of migratory species, many of which are near-extinct, including Africa’s great carnivores, 10 species of vulture, and the endangered Whale Shark.

At the conference Germany and the Philippines as well as Monaco, the United Arab Emirates and the European Union were recognized as Migratory Species Champions for their long-term support to initiatives that benefit migratory species conservation. That is certainly good news, but it should only serve as an encouragement to do much more to protect endangered species for the benefit of future generations since the world would be so much poorer and less wonderful without them. 

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(Gordon Kricke is the Ambassador of Germany.)

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