Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, witnessed the third meeting of signatories to the Raptors MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for the conservation of migratory birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia. The meeting took place recently at the Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel in Dubai.
Under the theme “Working Together for the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey,” the meeting aimed to exchange expertise, knowledge, and best practices to address critical challenges facing these birds and ensure their long-term survival. It also aimed to strengthen commitments to halt the decline of globally endangered raptor populations.
The meeting, organised by the Office of the Agreement on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey – Abu Dhabi, and hosted by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, brought together representatives from 35 signatory countries, as well as non-signatory countries to the Raptors MoU. It also included international governmental and non-governmental organisations and private sector entities from around the world.
The meeting was attended by His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Salman Al Hammadi, Assistant Undersecretary for Biodiversity and Marine Life Sector at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, His Excellency Abdulla Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Executive Director of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Dr. Abdulla Ghurair Al Qubaisi from the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Mr. Saud Al Qaydi, Director of Communications at the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, and Hiba Obaid Mohammed Al Shehhi, Director of Biodiversity Management at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
Global efforts are being united, and in her keynote speech, Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri emphasised the importance of this meeting in highlighting the need to conserve migratory birds of prey, preserve their diversity, and address the imminent threats to their survival. She emphasised the significance of global solidarity, cooperation, and shared commitment to protect these birds throughout Africa and Eurasia (Europe-Asia).
She said: “Today’s meeting reaffirms that environmental conservation is a collective commitment and shared responsibility, with the power to unite us in a common cause: securing the future of our planet… As signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey, we are committed to working with global partners to ensure a secure future for these birds.”
Her Excellency discussed the significant efforts undertaken by the United Arab Emirates, highlighting the country’s pioneering experience in conserving birds of prey. She mentioned that the UAE supports global efforts to preserve biodiversity, achieve environmental sustainability, and combat climate change. This commitment is reflected in the declaration of 2023 as the Year of Sustainability and the hosting of the COP28 conference in November.
Continuous Emirati Support:
Ms. Amy Fraenkel, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) Office in Abu Dhabi, expressed her gratitude during her speech to the government of the United Arab Emirates and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment for hosting this important international meeting and their continuous support in this field. She also extended her thanks to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the donor of the regional office of the Migratory Species Convention on behalf of the UAE government.
Fraenkel said: “I would also like to express special thanks to Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri for her efforts and vision in addressing the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change. Climate change is already significantly impacting migratory species, including birds, with changes in the timing of bird migration and mismatches with the prey they rely on during their journeys. Therefore, it is essential to protect migratory species and their habitats as they also contribute to mitigating climate change.”
Facing The Challenges:
Ms. Rouba Abou-Atieh, the Executive Coordinator of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) Office in Abu Dhabi, emphasised the vital role of the meeting in mobilising international efforts to conserve birds and address the increasing global challenges they face.
She said: “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the government of the United Arab Emirates for hosting this important gathering. Today’s work will shape the future of the Raptors MoU, and together we will have the ability to create a lasting impact and establish a legacy of conservation and protection for these birds. I urge each and every one of you to seize this opportunity and contribute to a brighter future for birds and the ecosystems they inhabit.”
During the meeting, participants discussed the first report launched to assess the conservation status of migratory birds under the Raptors MoU. The report revealed that over 50% of migratory birds in Africa and Eurasia are threatened with extinction.
The signatories of the MoU agreed on the necessity of regional strategies to conserve these birds and guide national efforts to protect them. They also addressed threats posed by climate change and animal diseases and emphasised the importance of regular assessments of trends in African and Eurasian migratory bird populations. Additionally, the meeting approved the largest network of internationally important sites for migratory birds in Africa and Eurasia.
Conservation Initiatives Against Species Threats:
The meeting also reviewed ongoing initiatives aimed at protecting species from threats, including the Multi-Species Action Plan for the Conservation of African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP), the Saker Falcon Global Action Plan (SakerGAP), the International Single Species Action Plan for the Sooty Falcon, and the Amur Falcon Conservation Initiative in Northeast India.
The signatories reaffirmed their commitments to addressing threats to migratory birds, such as illegal killing, trade, electrocution, and poisoning. The meeting resulted in amendments to the Raptors MoU text, reconfirming the signatories’ commitment to the objectives of the MoU and the urgent need for enhanced cooperation, increased research and monitoring, and the implementation of effective measures for environmental conservation at regional and national levels.
The success of the third meeting of the Raptors MoU signatories sets a promising precedent for future endeavours and underscores the significance of international cooperation in addressing the challenges facing migratory birds.
Moving forward, the Convention and its partners will continue to advocate for the conservation of migratory birds and encourage signatory countries, stakeholders, and partners to take tangible actions to ensure the long-term survival and prosperity of these birds.
About the CMS Office – Abu Dhabi:
The CMS Office – Abu Dhabi is the CMS Secretariat’s sole out-posted office. It is hosted by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) on behalf of the Government of the United Arab Emirates. The office includes the Coordinating Unit of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU) and the Secretariat of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MoU).