World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was initiated in 2006 by the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (UNEP-AEWA) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) as an annual awareness-raising campaign aimed at people living in all the major flyways that highlights the ecological importance of migratory birds and calls for their global conservation through international cooperation.
With WMBD’s objectives in mind, the task of making the campaign truly global in its scope is certainly ambitious. Through the joint efforts of UNEP-AEWA, CMS, and with the East Asian–Australasian Flyway Partnership helping by taking the lead in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, World Migratory Bird Day has continued to grow in its size and reach each year.
In the Western Hemisphere, a parallel awareness raising campaign, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), has been forging ahead for some time. IMBD was originally created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC), a center dedicated to fostering greater understanding, appreciation, and protection of the grand phenomenon of bird migration. The first celebration was held at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. in 1993. Since then, coordination of International Migratory Bird Day switched hands to finally end up in the care of the major non-profit organization, Environment for the Americas, in 2007. Since then, International Migratory Bird Day has continued to grow in its reach and scope each year throughout the western hemisphere.
Every three years, CMS organizes its Conference of the Parties (COP), its principal decision-making body. This meeting of parties and observers serves as one of the world’s major international environmental conferences and stands out in its ability to promote further progress for the conservation of each of the migratory species it aims to protect. Last year’s COP was hosted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Manila, Philippines. Of course, the week-long event had many highlights, but one side event, organized by UNEP-AEWA and the Environment of the Americas stood out as it held a signing ceremony for combining International Migratory Bird Day and World Migratory Bird Day into a single campaign.
The benefits of combining these two campaigns are clear. With a new single and truly global World Migratory Bird Day campaign, the potential for its reach is certain to increase. To keep things simple, the new day of celebration will retain the name of “World Migratory Bird Day”, but will be held on two dates, the second Saturday in May and October. This two-date strategy will better enable organizations and bird watching enthusiasts to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day when the birds are migrating to their respective parts of the world. As the weeks go by, further information about the new WMBD will surely be coming out. EAAFP will make sure to continue updates on all the news regarding the new WMBD as it comes available!