After five days of intense but constructive discussions, the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) came to a successful conclusion here on Saturday.
The triennial Meeting of the Parties (MOP) is the Agreement's principal decision-making body. Among the main decisions taken in Durban were the adoption of the Strategic Plan and the Plan of Action for Africa for the period 2019-2027 as well as agreement on key species action plans focusing on some of the African-Eurasian flyway's most charismatic and endangered waterbirds.
Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of AEWA, said: "This meeting of parties marks a milestone in the history of AEWA because we have adopted a new Strategic Plan and a Plan of Action for Africa for the next decade.
"Parties have done a tremendous job here in Durban to reach consensus on all subjects. With this mandate, all countries will be able to work together to ensure a future for waterbirds across a flyway that stretches from the very tip of Africa, across the Middle East to the High Arctic."
With reference to the plan for Africa, Barirega Akankwasah, AEWA National Focal Point for Uganda and Vice-President of AEWA MOP7, said: "The AEWA Plan of Action for Africa presents a renewed framework for responding to contemporary waterbird conservation issues in Africa. All AEWA contracting parties and partners should support its implementation. The Plan will undoubtedly improve the conservation status of waterbirds in Africa and across the Flyway.
MOP7 was held under the theme: "Beyond 2020: shaping flyway conservation for the future" and delegates considered reports on the conservation status of the species listed under the Agreement and the effects of plastic on waterbirds as well as prioritizing work on seabirds, thought to be among the most threatened groups of bird species in the world.
Parties adopted a number of International Single Species Action and Management Plans (ISSAPs and ISSMPs) while retiring those concerning the Light-bellied Brent Goose and Black-winged Pratincole and extending the duration of the plans for the Great Snipe, Ferruginous Duck, Lesser Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwit, Maccoa Duck, White-winged Flufftail, and Madagascar Pond Heron for a further ten years. The ISSAP for the Lesser White-fronted Goose was extended for another three years until MOP8. New ISSMPs for the Barnacle Goose and Greylag Goose were also adopted.
Among the other resolutions adopted included one on AEWA's contribution to the Aichi Targets and the Agreement's relevance to the Sustainable Development Goals, strengthening the monitoring of migratory waterbirds, guidance on the implementation of the AEWA Action Plan, climate resilient flyways, financial and institutional arrangements.
"Among the many threats that waterbirds have to face are the effects of climate change as a key driver of species decline. We are working to make the flyway more resilient to climate change and of course we need everybody on board to fight against these effects not only on the habitats but on the birds themselves." said Trouvilliez.
"AEWA's great strengths are its science-based decisions and the good cooperation between its member countries from northern Europe to southern Africa. The treaty also relies on the efforts of highly dedicated individuals, local and national bodies to achieve its goals."
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