Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary, UNEP/AEWA Secretariat
Dear Friends of AEWA,
I am writing this message at a time when 196 countries gathered in Montreal have made the decision to adopt the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). I would like to congratulate all delegates and the CBD Secretariat for sending this strong message: We have to stop the war against Nature and I firmly believe that the adoption of the GBF is a major step towards our collective goal to live in Harmony with Nature. AEWA will do its utmost to support Parties in their efforts to implement the actions agreed in Montreal, especially those focusing on waterbirds and wetlands. The adoption of the GBF is not only a key moment for nature conservation, but also one which underlines the importance of international cooperation in a changing world.
While the CBD COP15 in Montreal marked the peak of the “2022 meeting marathon”, AEWA’s 8th Meeting of the Parties (MOP8) held in Budapest, Hungary from 26 – 30 September 2022 could be seen as the “grand opening”.
I think many of you will agree that AEWA MOP8 was a great success both in terms of the decisions and commitments made by AEWA Parties. Convening under the theme of “Strengthening Flyway Conservation in a Changing World”, MOP8 saw countries come together in Budapest to adopt a total of 16 resolutions and new guidelines aiming to improve the conservation status of the 255 migratory waterbirds listed under AEWA. AEWA Parties agreed on a budget increase despite the ongoing economic crisis, which will be used to improve the coordination of species action plans as well as for strengthening waterbird conservation more broadly across the African continent.
Other highlights of the meeting were the adoption of a new International Action Plan for the Common Eider, a total of 15 Side Events and the presentation of the AEWA Waterbird Conservation Awards to Mr Hichem Azafzaf from Tunisia in the individual category and BirdLife South Africa in the institutional category. In total, over 200 people, including 45 Contracting Parties, 50 representatives from non-Party countries, inter and non-governmental organizations as well as national and international experts attended AEWA MOP8, making it the largest inter-governmental nature conservation meeting ever hosted by Hungary. I would like to sincerely thank the Government of Hungary for hosting the meeting as well as all those Parties which have given voluntary contributions to support the organization of the MOP. I would also like to thank the CIC for its tremendous support and all the participants for making this MOP one of the most successful in the history of AEWA. To learn more about AEWA MOP8 and its many highlights, I would recommend reading the AEWA MOP8 Closing Press Release and the AEWA MOP8 Daily Coverage prepared by the Joint CMS + AEWA Communications Unit for the meeting. For those of you who were there (and haven’t seen it yet), I would also recommend taking one minute to watch this nice short video clip on AEWA MOP8.
AEWA Pre-MOP Meeting for Africa
Just a few months before AEWA MOP8, the AEWA Secretariat organized the African Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 8th Session of the Meeting of the Parties to AEWA (AEWA Pre-MOP) from 4-7 July 2022. This was the first AEWA Pre-MOP held in a purely virtual meeting format and I strongly believe that the meeting had a great impact on the successful outcome of the MOP. I would therefore like to sincerely thank all of AEWA’s African National Focal Points for their active participation in both meetings and for their ongoing commitment to advancing the implementation of the Plan of Action for Africa (PoAA) and the provisions of the treaty more generally in Africa. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank both the Government of Switzerland and Germany for their financial contributions which made the AEWA African Pre-MOP8 meeting possible.
AEWA European Goose Management Platform (EGMP)
After two years of remote convening, the AEWA European Goose Management Platform (EGMP) held its 7th International Working Group Meeting (EGM IWG 7) from 21 -23 June 2022 in Helsinki. The successful meeting was preceded by a Joint Meeting of the EGMP Task Forces. The in-person meetings in Helsinki were a definite highlight for everyone involved in the platform this year, and I would like to once again thank the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland for their excellent hosting of these EGMP events. Last but not least, I would like to encourage you to have a look at the special “EGMP Highlights 2022” feature to learn more about the many activities carried out under AEWA’s largest program this year.
Single Species Action Plan Meetings and Avian Influenza Outbreaks
A number of AEWA International Species Working and Expert Group Meetings took place throughout the year. These included the virtual Northern Bald Ibis meeting in October 2022 organized by the AEWA Secretariat and the first joint Black-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Curlew meeting held as a physical in-person meeting in Papenburg, Germany in August 2022 as well as a Eurasian Spoonbill meeting organized by the coordinators for those groups. These Actions plans show clearly the priority of the Treaty : Conservation though coordinate actions.
Unfortunately, the year 2022 also saw multiple outbreaks of HPAI (Avian Influenza) in wild birds with some outbreaks having an impact on AEWA waterbird populations. I therefore highly welcome the decision by AEWA Parties at MOP8 to step up monitoring for the impacted populations as well as the other HPAI-related decisions.
Outlook for the Year 2023
Allow me to also give you a brief outlook for the coming year, one which will likely be a critical year for AEWA to become even more aligned with the mandates set by the new Global Biodiversity Framework. In the first half of 2023, the AEWA Secretariat will be organizing an AEWA Training of Trainers Workshop on Flyway Conservation focusing on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from 6-10 February 2023 in Mauritius followed by the 18th Meeting of the AEWA Technical Committee scheduled to take place from 14 – 16 March 2023 in Bonn, Germany. The TC Meeting will be followed by the 23rd AEWA Standing Committee Meeting, which will likely take place in Bonn in-person, funding permitting, or be held as a purely online meeting. The AEWA Secretariat is also planning to organize a Slaty Egret International Working Group Meeting in Botswana during the latter half of the year to support the implementation of the AEWA International Single Species Action Pan for the Conservation of the Slaty Egret. In 2023, AEWA will again be working closely with the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the US-based NGO Environment for the Americas to organize World Migratory Bird Day 2023 – a campaign that has grown into one of the most widely celebrated international days in the global environment calendar. The two peak days of World Migratory Bird Day 2023 will fall on 13 May and 14 October 2023 and the campaign will focus on the topic of water, highlighting the importance of water for migratory birds.
Finally, I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank the entire Secretariat team for all their hard work, dedication, trust and endurance in this intense MOP year. I am tremendously proud of what we have achieved as a team and thank you all very much for your support!
So as this year comes to a close, let us look forward to 2023 with ambition, energy and hope and continue to build on what we have all achieved together so far under AEWA. And here I mean the entire AEWA community – spanning across all the 119 countries that are part of the African-Eurasian Flyway!
For those of you who have not noticed it yet - AEWA is a very special and effective treaty bringing together African and Eurasian nations and a community of like-minded people and organizations to work collaboratively across borders for the benefit of migratory waterbirds.
On behalf of the entire AEWA team, I would like to thank you for your continued commitment and support to AEWA and extend to you and to your families our very best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Dr. Jacques Trouvilliez
Last updated on 03 January 2023