Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane welcomes the hosting of 7th session of Meeting of Parties (MoP7) to the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)

30 November 2018

‘4-8 December 2018, Olive Convention Centre, Durban, Kwazulu Natal , South Africa’


Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane has welcomed South Africa’s hosting of the 7th Meeting of the Parties to the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA MoP7) from 4 to 8 December 2018 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The AEWA MoP 7 is hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs in partnership with Kwa-Zulu Natal Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs and the eThekwini Municipality.

The 7th Meeting of the Parties will bring together approximately 350 delegates from  Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and the wider international conservation community in an effort to strengthen coordinated conservation and management of migratory waterbirds throughout their entire migratory range. The Meeting of the Parties  will be convened under the theme: “Beyond 2020: Shaping Flyway Conservation for the Future.”

“The Meeting of the Parties will contribute to the socio-economic growth of the country while ensuring the sustainability of South Africa’s avitourism industry, which is a bird watching segment of tourism,” said Minister Mokonyane.

While the Meeting of the Parties will set an ambitious path for the next decade by adopting a new Strategic Plan for 2019 – 2027, it will also reflect on the continuation of the good practices established and lessons learnt throughout the implementation of the AEWA Strategic Plan for the period 2009 – 2018.

In addition, the meeting will also provide the opportunities for African states to exchange views and experiences on activities relating to the conservation and management of the migratory species and to strengthen their cooperation on issues  at regional level.

The hosting of the AEWA MOP7 coincides with the latest round of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s meeting in Katowice, Poland.  Climate change is recognized as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss and is affecting the behaviour and survival  of listed migratory waterbirds protected under AEWA.

With 76 countries and the European Union (EU) as contracting parties, AEWA is an intergovernmental treaty developed under the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It is dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats, stretching from the northern reaches of Canada and the Russian Federation to the southernmost tip of Africa, covering 119 Range States from Europe, parts of Asia and Canada, the Middle East and Africa.

AEWA covers 254 species of birds which are dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle, including many species of divers, grebes, pelicans, cormorants and others. All these species cross international boundaries during their migrations and require undisturbed habitat for breeding as well as a network of stopover sites to support their annual journeys. As an important range state for migratory waterbirds, South Africa has an obligation and an important role of protecting the habitats of these species as well as preventing the unsustainable use of these migrating waterbird species.

The modalities of this Intergovernmental Meeting will include:

  • Plenary sessions to discuss and adopt relevant resolutions to inform the future work of the parties and take decisions on substantive or administrative matters.
  • Strategic sessions will discuss matters relating to the strategic, scientific and technical aspects related to the conservation status and trends in the management of migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
  • Moderated panel sessions and side events provide the opportunity to share experiences of participants and also identify future opportunities and collaborations to implement AEWA objectives.
  • Exhibitions to raise awareness on what organisations are doing across the globe to contribute to the objectives of AEWA.
  • Field trips to showcase South Africa’s avitourism sites especially the ones relevant to AEWA activities to demonstrate the country’s initiatives and capabilities towards implementing AEWA resolutions.

“South Africa is a very important range state of migratory waterbirds and plays an important role in global conservation efforts of these species and their habitats. Migratory birds cross many borders over thousands of kilometres, linking different countries as well as ecosystems. In addition, through their migratory routes these birds aid with seed dispersal which is necessary for re-vegetation and enhancement of the productivity of the land,” said Mokonyane.

South Africa has core birding asserts compared to competitor destinations as a result it is critical to protect these in order to enhance ecosystem integrity, resilience and the sustainability of South Africa’s avitourism industry, which is a bird watching segment of tourism. Avitourism refers to travel outside of one’s usual environment, to view birds in their natural habitat. This definition applies to both domestic and international avitourists in South Africa.

According to a study published in 2010 by the Department of Trade and Industry on Avitourisim,the total size of the Avitourisim market is recognisable.It  comprises of international and domestic avitourists ranging at the time between 21 000 and 40 000 visitors annually.

Based on the DTI Study, the domestic Avitourists numbers ranged between 13 000 and 24 000 per annum. The DTI study estimated Avitourists’  total spend to be in the region of R 927 million to R 1.725 billion per year with domestic Avitourism spend accounting for between R 482 million and R 890 million. 

The study also estimated that South Africa’s domestic and international avitourists spend up to R47 million annually on tour guides. The majority of these avitourists reported a preference for birding in small groups (groups of 1 – 4 people). This preference lends itself particularly well to the use of small tour operators and community guides, rather than larger tour operators.

Visit the 7th Session of the Meeting of Parties website for more details.

For media queries contact Albi Modise
Cell: +27 83 490 2871