The Philippines has been chosen as the venue for this year's Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the only global intergovernmental treaty established exclusively for the conservation and management of terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.

This was announced by Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita Lim during the launch of the logo for the 12th COP meeting, also known as COP 12, held at the Philippine Senate on Tuesday (February 28).

The event was graced by climate change committee chair Senator Loren Legarda, environment and natural resources committee chair Senator Cynthia Villar, and CMS Secretariat Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Lambertus Lenten.

Lim said the COP meeting will be held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on October 22-28, 2017, and will be attended by high-level dignitaries from more than 120 countries.

According to the BMB chief, the country's hosting of the CMS event will serve as an opportunity for the Philippines to showcase its important role as host to a number of migratory species in several of its coastal, marine, wetland and forest ecosystems.

"Birds, marine turtles, and marine mammals find it convenient to stop by our different host sites where they can feed and refuel before they continue on their journey especially during winter time,” Lim said.

She added that migratory sites allow the public, especially environmental hobbyists like bird watchers, to see such wildlife and appreciate the importance of conserving their habitats.

As this will be the first time for the COP to be held in Asia, Sen. Legarda assured the DENR and the BMB of assistance from the Senate to ensure the country’s effective and successful hosting of the event.

“As the only Southeast Asian country that is party to the convention, it is critical that we continue to take the lead and encourage other members to accede to the convention, considering that protection of migratory species and their habitats require cooperation beyond borders,” she stated.

Dr. Lenten underscored the importance of collaborative action in conserving migratory species. “If we bring our effort together, we can be stronger than when working separately,” he said.

These were echoed by Sen. Villar, who also enphasized the essence of the conference’s theme, “Their future is our future.”

“People should seriously bear in mind that the future of migratory species of wild animals is our future, making all of us stakeholders in making sure that all of us have a future together,” she said.

Villar has adopted as her personal cause the conservation of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area or LPPCHEA, which is a migratory bird site and a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.

As part of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, a substantial population of some 150 bird species find temporary homes in migratory sites in the country like the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu, the Naujan Lake National Park in Mindoro, the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park in Palawan, and the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area in Metro Manila.

Philippines also provides habitat to five of the world’s eight marine turtle species, and 28 species of marine mammals such as dolphins, whales and dugong.

The whale shark (Ryncodon typus), a known migratory species which also frequents the country’s waters, plays a centerpiece role in the logo designed by the BMB for the event.

The logo shows the whale shark as a composite of nine other migratory species and their habitats, rendered as a stylized tattoo.

The letter “O” in COP12 is portrayed as a color wheel signifying the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and underscoring how wildlife conservation plays a role in meeting them.

The bottom of the logo shows waves formed as a stylized hand reaching out to the whale shark, representing the role of people as stewards caring for the habitats of all species.

The conference theme, “Their Future is Our Future” completes the logo as an arc that highlights the connection between wildlife, the earth, and people in meeting the SDGs.

The general colors used for the logo are red, blue, and yellow to represent the Philippines as host country.

Also called the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the CMS is an intergovernmental treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), providing a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.#