How to Move from Resolutions to Actions in Addressing Biodiversity Challenges

The Snow Leopard was used as the logo for the CMS COP14. It is a keystone species in much of Central Asia and also the legendary symbol of Samarkand. Photo credit: Terry Townshend.

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COP14 resolutions reinforce ADB’s mandate to support DMCs in meeting their obligations through strengthened safeguards.


Almost half of migratory species are in decline and more than 20% are threatened, according to the State of the World’s Migratory Species report. The report launched during The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and Wild Animals (CMS) 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) attributed the threats to migratory species to human overpopulation and habitat loss due to human activity.[1]

CMS is an environmental treaty of the United Nations. It provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. "Governments, scientists, and stakeholders [came] together to agree on strategies for the conservation of migratory species and their habitats” during its international conference, COP14.[2]

Addressing challenges affecting migratory wildlife were at the heart of discussions during the milestone event on 12–17 February 2024, held for the first time in Central Asia, at the historic center of the Silk Road at Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Its theme, “Nature knows no borders,” reminded participants that the journeys of migratory species do not adhere to political boundaries, and that their survival is dependent on international collaboration and transboundary conservations efforts.

This explainer provides some reflections on the event, key resolutions passed, knowledge for disseminated, and some thoughts on how the Asian Development Bank can move from the resolutions to actions.

Overview of CMS COP14

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) brings together the countries through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range. Signed in 1979 in Bonn, West Germany, the convention entered into force in 1983. As of 1 March 2022 the Convention on Migratory Species has 133 Parties.

At the launch of the COP14, Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov of the Republic of Uzbekistan, representing the President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, highlighted the importance of the Conference and it being held in Central Asia and ongoing regional collaborative efforts to establish transboundary protected areas with Uzbekistan’s neighboring countries.

Inger Andersen, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme encouraged all nations to protect critical species and habitats. She highlighted that “We cannot protect migratory species without multilateralism, and we must work harder, faster, and smarter with a united front.”

CMS Executive Secretary Amy Fraenkel said regional cooperation in Central Asia has been essential for many species including the Snow Leopard, Saiga antelope, and the Bukhara deer. During the COP, she launched the first-ever State of the World’s Migratory Species report, which revealed “alarming” findings, including that half of the Key Biodiversity Areas identified as important for migratory animals lack a protected status.

Over the first days, Ministers of Environment for all central Asian republics joined various signing ceremonies and the heads of many international conventions and organizations, including the Ramsar Wetlands Convention, Convention for Biological Diversity, International Whaling Commssion, Global Environment Facility, and International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Many significant resolutions were made with a few of the highlights below:

  • Strengthened resolution on climate change and endorsement of the report on the climate change on migratory wildlife.
  • Strengthened measures to address the illegal and unsustainable taking of migratory species.
  • Actions to advance ecological connectivity.
  • Recommendations on addressing linear infrastructure development and impact assessment.
  • A new, science-based Samarkand Strategic Plan for Migratory Species for the period 2024–2032.
  • Amendments to CMS Appendices to include 14 additional species in need of international conservation, such as Eurasian Lynx, Pallas’s Cat, and Sand Tiger Shark.
  • New mandate on addressing the impacts of deep-seabed mineral exploitation on migratory species, their prey, and their ecosystems.
  • Strengthened mandate on tackling bycatch and aquatic wild meat, a global concern for small cetaceans, sharks, marine turtles, and seabirds.
  • Agreement on an Initiative for the Central Asian Flyway, which spans 30 Range States. The adopted initiative includes the establishment of a coordinating unit in India with financial support from the Government.
  • A new approach agreed to global flyways coordination under the CMS umbrella for CMS and non-CMS parties and partners.
Importance of ADB Participation at COP14

Seventeen ADB developing member countries (DMCs) are full members of the international treaty, with a good contingent in South Asia, Central Asia, and the Pacific. A further 15 countries are considered as range states and have signing elements of the convention, such as on dugongs or turtles, but are not full members. Therefore, understanding the nature of treaty resolutions is critical to allow ADB to support DMCs in meeting their obligations to the convention. This can be in terms of safeguards, but perhaps more interestingly, these resolutions give ADB many opportunities in regard to the growing nature positive agenda.

ADB Senior Environment Specialist Duncan Lang presents the Regional Flyway Initiative during the Inter-flyway Workshop on 10 February 2024. Photo credit: East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership.

With this in mind, COP14 side events presented ideal platforms for ADB to share the bank’s work on related and urgent concerns. This included the “Nature Positive” agenda through the Regional Flyway Initiative, which builds a business case for the protection and sustainable management of wetlands through viable nature-based solutions that can deliver for people, nature, and climate. It also provided an opportunity to highlight ADB’s role as an international financial Institution in ensuring a nature-safe renewable energy transition by financing the initial development tools such as AVISTEP and now formally requesting to join the CMS Energy Task Force.

A CMS Energy Task Force Side Event on Financing the Energy Transition discussed the role of international financial institutions in ensuring a nature safe renewable energy transition. Panelists were (from left): Dr. Rhiannon Niven, Energy Taskforce Coordinator, BirdLife International; Lori Anna Conzo, Global Biodiversity Lead, International Finance Corporation; Robert Adamczyk, Sector Lead Power and Heavy Industry, Senior Environment Advisor, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Duncan Lang, Senior Environment Specialist, Asian Development Bank; and Dr. Ivan Ramirez, Head Avian Unit, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species. Photo credit: Duncan Lang.


What are the next steps and where should ADB be moving toward? Three ideas, perhaps of increasing complexity, can be taken forward.

  1. Knowledge and good practices. The CMS COP14 provided a wealth of information that can be shared with DMCs, consultants, staff, and civil society. Information can be shared and integrated into project planning. As ADB will now become a member of the CMS Energy Task Force, this platform provides an ideal forum for further knowledge exchange to support a nature-safe renewable energy transition.
  2. Safeguards. Full enforcement of ADB’s safeguards policy can ensure support for DMCs in delivering on their obligations, both under ADB’s existing policy and also as it is updated in 2024 and comes into force in 2025. This will be key to guarantee no net loss as a minimum for every project.
  3. Nature positive. Scaling up nature positive efforts could support many migratory species and consideration of connectivity in the aquatic, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems. Flyways can provide the requisite scale to make a real impact.

As expressed in the State of the World’s Migratory Species Report, time is running out for many of these charismatic species, which can serve as a measure of the health of our ecosystems. Initiatives need to be scaled up, not only for climate and pollution, but also for biodiversity, which very much includes migratory species.


[1] UN News. 2024. First-Ever UN Report on Migratory Species Reveals Complex Threats. 12 February. 

[2] Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). COP14: The Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.


Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. 2024. Historic UN Wildlife Meeting Concludes with a Major Set of Actions for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. News Release. 17 February.

UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre. 2024. State of the World’s Migratory Species. Cambridge: UNEP-WCMC.

Duncan Lang
Senior Environment Specialist, Climate Change, Resilience, and Environment Cluster, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank

Duncan Lang is ADB’s lead for the Regional Flyway Initiative and currently also leading the biodiversity component of the ongoing update to ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement. He led ADB’s support for the recent development for a sensitivity mapping tool for energy planning (AVISTEP) with BirdLife International.

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