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Working Group on Climate Change

Creation of the Working Group

The Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS (COP5, 1997) passed a recommendation calling for the establishment of a small working group to guide the Scientific Council’s decisions on climate change. Recommendation 5.5 provided the foundation for CMS’s climate change mandate, and was further developed by subsequent Resolutions 8.13, 9.7 and 10.19.


The working group has the task of reviewing the impact of climate change on migratory species, and of identifying and prioritizing options for intervention by CMS Parties. The working group has met during CMS Scientific Council meetings. There has also been one technical meeting in Tour du Valat (see below) that was attended by external experts to provide guidance on CMS’s climate change policy. Pursuant to Resolution 10.19, the working group will develop a CMS Programme of Work on Climate Change at its next meeting.


  • Assess the current situation and highlight emerging issues regarding migratory species and their vulnerability to climate change;
  • Identify and prioritize options for future research and for national and international action to improve the adaptive capacity of migratory species;
  • Draft policy recommendations for CMS Parties based on the best available science, taking into account the scientific and policy work conducted under the auspices of other bodies such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the International Whaling Commission and the Ramsar and Climate Conventions;
  • Review and improve existing scientific links between the CMS and other bodies undertaking work in this area.


Membership should aim to include experts covering all broad taxonomic groups of CMS-listed species and ensure participation of persons knowledgeable in the interactions of climate change and migratory species. Since the latter understanding is relatively specific, external experts should be invited to participate and/or to review draft policy recommendations made by the working group. The number of members should allow the working Group to work as effectively as possible.

All members of the Scientific Council are invited to provide representations to the working group. In addition to Councillors, key organizations and invited experts, who can add value to the efforts of the working group, are identified.

The working group is chaired by Prof. Dr. Colin Galbraith (COP-Appointed Scientific Councillor for Climate Change).


A study conducted by Arie Trouwborst of Tilburg Law School (The Netherlands) reviews the entire CMS regime, including all subsidiary instruments, from the perspective of the challenges posed to migratory species conservation by climate change. The study which was published in 2012 analyzes the various legal instruments as well as decisions by Parties and Signatories and other relevant guidance, in light of the available scientific knowledge regarding the consequences of climate change for the conservation of migratory species. Several complex legal problems are identified which relate to the fact that the Convention was concluded before climate change appeared on the intergovernmental agendas. The study explores the pros and cons of alternative courses of action to resolve these issues, and includes a set of concrete recommendations in this regard. The significance of the CMS regime for species gradually losing their migratory behavior is also discussed, and even the regime’s potential role regarding the adaptation of non-migratory species to climate change. The full study can be accessed at:

Last updated on 13 August 2019