Farewell to Rob Hepworth

Bonn, 27 July 2009 - Mr. Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Secretariat left the CMS Secretariat on 27 July 2009. In addition, Mr. Lahcen El-Kabiri has recently left the position of Deputy Executive Secretary of CMS to take up new functions as the head the new CMS managed office to oversee the implementation of the Agreements on birds of prey and dugongs in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Hepworth, who joined the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2000 as the Deputy Director at the then Division of Environmental Conventions (DEC) in Nairobi, was appointed as Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species by the former Executive Director of UNEP, Dr. Klaus Töpfer in August 2004. Mr El Kabiri joined the CMS Secretariat as Deputy Executive Secretary one month later. Since then, the two successfully led the CMS Secretariat through two Conferences of the Parties (COP8 in Nairobi, November 2005 and COP9 in Rome, December 2008).

Under their guidance and leadership, the Convention and its Secretariat have lived through a period of intense growth and development.

Main achievements of the Convention and its Secretariat during the past five years include;

  • Nine new CMS Agreements and Memoranda of Understandings (MoU) for the conservation of species were concluded, including a legally-binding Agreement on Gorillas, and MoUs for West African Elephants, Indian Ocean and Pacific Dugongs, African-Eurasian birds of prey, Small Cetaceans and Manatees in Western Africa, Monk Seals in the Atlantic, South American Grassland Birds, Andean Flamingos and the Ruddy-headed Goose.
  • An International Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds was set up in 2006, which included AEWA, BirdLife International, CBD, CIC, CMS, FAO, ISDR, OiE, WHO, Ramsar, Wildlife Conservation Society, Wetlands International and ZSL as partners. The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza increased its influence over the years through the organisation of over a dozen teleconferences, symposiums, workshops and press conferences and the translation of its advisory brochure in 7 languages.
  • Launch and management of three successful "Year of" campaigns (Year of the Turtles, Year of the Dolphin and Year of the Gorilla) which helped to raise the international profile of CMS and were also used to foster partnerships with the private sector, for example with the TUI Travel Company for the Year of the Dolphin.
  • Establishment of the "Friends of CMS" in October 2005, a charity registered in Germany, which provides active support to CMS initiatives as well as functioning as a bridge between politics and industry.
  • Increase of the membership of the Convention by 26 Parties to a total of 112 Parties (as of August 2009) with the majority of new CMS Parties coming from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
  • A number of new partnerships and other agreements have been signed with other international wildlife conservation organisations, such as with BirdLife International, Wetlands International, CIC, WDCS, IFAW, AMMPA, WCS and WAZA and a Joint Work Programme with CITES.
  • Recent establishment of a new CMS outposted office in Abu Dhabi supported by the UAE to manage the implementation of specific CMS instruments of key importance to that region.
  • Establishment of strong ties with the host City of Bonn, with a number of public events recently conducted to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Bonn Convention.

The CMS Secretariat staff would like to thank Mr. Robert Hepworth and Mr. Lahcen El Kabiri for their leadership over the past five years and for their efforts to move the Convention forward. We wish them the very best and continued success in their new endeavours.

Last updated on 25 March 2014

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