DG Statement | 22 Feb, 2024

IUCN Director General's address to 14th Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

IUCN Director General Dr Grethel Aguilar delivered an address at the official opening ceremony of the 14th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on 12 February, 2024. Read the full speech below.


Address by Dr Grethel Aguilar, Director General 

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)


Honourable Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov,

Honourable Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection and Climate Change, Mr Aziz Abdukhakimov,

UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Andersen,

CMS Executive Secretary, Amy Fraenkel,

GEF CEO, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez,

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,


We are witnessing an unprecedented moment in our collective efforts to safeguard the natural world in which humanity has thrived for centuries. The magnitude of this crisis calls for determination and bold decisions as never before.

The Convention on Migratory Species is a true testament to our global commitment to protecting the species that journey across continents, oceans, and our shared planet.

Allow me to thank the Government of Uzbekistan, a State Member of IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature - for showing strong leadership and hosting this crucial conference. It is fitting that we are gathered in the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage city of Samarkand, where the ancient past merges with the modern future.

Here, at the crossroads of civilisations and cultures, we are reminded of how interconnected our globe is, and of our shared responsibility to protect our precious nature that knows no borders. Central Asia, with its stunning landscapes and exceptional biodiversity, is the perfect setting for this conference to take place today.

The theme of the COP, “Nature Knows No Borders”, resonates deeply with IUCN. Founded more than 75 years ago, IUCN is a global union of almost 1,500 Members, and more than 15,000 experts who come together to create standards, tools, and solutions to conserve nature.

IUCN’s dedication to ensuring adequate conservation and the resilience of migratory species is vital for the good state and health of ecosystems worldwide, and by extension, our own well-being.

The challenges our planet is facing are manifold. Climate change, habitat loss, and overexploitation all interact to threaten the very species we have gathered here to protect. That is why we need collaborative, innovative solutions that transcend national boundaries.

We at IUCN are committed to supporting CMS decisions, and contributing to the global conservation goals that are so ambitiously spelled out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

As we chart the course for the future, let us be guided by results and a shared vision for living sustainably and in harmony with the migratory species that are so important to our own well-being.

Distinguished delegates,

Partners and friends,

This conference marks a new chapter in nature conservation in Uzbekistan, Central Asia, and the world. Allow me here to express IUCN’s gratitude to the Government of Uzbekistan for supporting IUCN’s presence in the region.

Just as nature knows no borders, may our collaboration during these days cross boundaries and lead to fruitful discussions, enduring partnerships, and lasting commitments. Together, let us secure a future where migratory species thrive, and where our planet flourishes.

Thank you.