Philippines to host international wildlife conference

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will host the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals that will happen from October 23 to 28 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

This was announced by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during a press conference on Tuesday, August 8.

"This is the first time that the Philippines will host a meeting this huge. This is the first COP that will be held in the Philippines," Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr said.

According to Adobo, this is the 3rd attempt of the CMS Secretariat to convince the Philippines to host the triennial conference that will be attended by around 1,000 delegates from 124 party-states.

"The importance of holding the COP in the Philippines is this will be a show window to the world what the Philippines can offer," Adobo noted.

This will also be the first time the conference will be held in Asia since the international treaty was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979, and entered into force in 1985.

According to their website, the CMS (also known as the Bonn Convention) brings together the Range States – the states through which migratory animals pass – and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

Under the treaty, the Philippines belongs to the Oceania region, since it is part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the environment department's Biodiversity Management Bureau, said the Philippines will propose 4 main resolutions during the meeting in October:

The country will also propose the following changes to the CMS appendices:

As host, the Philippines is also expecting that a Manila declaration on sustainable development and migratory species will be issued in October.

The theme for CMS COP12 is Their Future is Our Future: Sustainable Development for Wildlife and People. The focal point of this year's CMS COP12 logo is the whale shark, which the DENR said is the "centerpiece species for COP12."

Whale sharks

Asked why the Philippines is asking for the uplisting of the whale shark, Lim explained: "Because of the conservation status. We feel that it is more endangered now than it was before because…there are still incidences of poaching, hunting, and when we talk about migratory, that's not only in the Philippines, but all throughout its range it happens."

Lim noted that the uplisting will not affect the country's tourism when it comes to whale shark watching.

"Dito mismo, we are promoting sustainable tourism. Gusto naman natin may revenue tayo na nage-generate and we want to show that the migratory species are more valuable alive than not alive," she added.

(Even here, we are promoting sustainable tourism. We do want to generate revenue, and we want to show that the migratory species are more valuable alive than not alive.)

Lim said the environment department is already coming up with guidelines on whale shark watching, together with the Department of Tourism.

"Hopefully we can share our guidelines with the other countries and other countries will be able to learn from our experience so our coordination would be highlighted in the COP," she added. –

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.