Cihan Sultanoğlu at the International Snow Leopard & Ecosystem ForumAug 25, 2017
Distinguished Speakers, Heads of Agencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be with you for this International Snow Leopard Forum.
Let me begin by recognizing the leadership of your Government, President Atambaev, and indeed the leadership of all range country Governments, as well as the outstanding work done by the Secretariat hosted here in Bishkek.
In just a few years, you have succeeded in raising the profile of snow leopard conservation, and taken concrete steps both to strengthen the management of snow leopard habitats, and to improve transboundary collaboration.
Without your commitment and championing of snow leopard conservation and linked issues around high-mountain ecosystems, we would not be here today, and the task before us would be that much more difficult.
Let me also recognize the partnerships that have made this success possible: with the GEF, other donors and international organizations, civil society and the private sector, and of course with rangers, researchers, and communities.
And let me highlight the key voice of the media and our celebrity advocates.
By working together, we have made progress and mobilized considerably more financial, technical and human resources needed to tackle the many threats faced by these great cats, than we would have if we were working individually.
But there is of course much more that needs to be done – the threats remain: illegal hunting and trade; habitat degradation and loss; human-wildlife conflict; and the growing impact of climate change that affects us all.
UNDP is proud to have been a partner of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program since its beginning, and we pledge our full support going forward, including for the new 20 by 20 Initiative.
UNDP is already working with governments and partners through ten GEF-financed projects in nine range countries which cover snow leopard landscapes with over $48 million in grants from the GEF.
These GEF financed projects, through support at policy, institutional, landscape and community levels, are designed to:
· improve sustainable land and forest management in 17 million hectares;
· expand protected areas covering 2.4 million hectares;
· restore 420,000 hectares of degraded rangeland; and
· designate and manage 972,800 ha of high conservation value forests.
UNDP is also helping to protect snow leopard conservation and high-mountain ecosystems through the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme.
We have supported over 20 community-based demonstration projects on habitat loss, livelihoods, and human-wildlife conflict in high altitude pastures.
Through all of these projects, we are working with governments and partners to strengthen:
· community based conservation and co-management;
· standardized wildlife and habitat monitoring;
· anti-poaching and anti-trafficking initiatives;
· institutional capacity building and policy development; and
· transboundary cooperation and information sharing.
Promoting snow leopard conservation of course serves a broader purpose than simply saving one endangered species - their habitats are part of larger ecosystems that provide water, pasture, soil, wildlife, and culture.
And for these reasons, such comprehensive approaches are needed.
This work falls within a broader set of UNDP biodiversity and related programming, including initiatives like BIOFIN, the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative, and UN Partnership for Action on Green Economy.
As the UNDP Administrator noted in his message, the work of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program is essential to our collective efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and implement the adaptation commitments of the Paris Agreement.
And the decisions coming out of today’s Forum are key to accelerating our progress and attracting green investments into high-mountain regions.
Let me close now by reiterating UNDP’s strong commitment to the Global Program and to working closely with all partners over the coming months.