3 Oct 2018

Family reunion: A global partnership meets to discuss the next half-decade of conservation

Between September 26th-28th, over 200 members of the BirdLife family flocked to Wallonia, Belgium for the 2018 BirdLife General Partnership Meeting. Held every five years, these landmark meetings are where we gather to elect our Government and review our conservation strategy for the years to come.

Over 200 representatives from over 100 Partners attended the Global Partnership Meeting
Representatives from over 117 partners attended the Global Partnership Meeting.
By Patricia Zurita, CEO, BirdLife International

As a new decade draws near, our planet finds itself at a critical crossroads. Nature is collapsing under the pressure of human-made factors such as habitat loss, climate change and deforestation, and we need to act now if we’re to reverse the damage we’ve done.

“If we wait until 2030, then I’m afraid it will be too late – we will have blown it”, said Mike Clarke, Chief Executive of the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) last week in a presentation delivered to the BirdLife Partnership regarding our role in shaping the discourse of the silent crisis threatening our planet – the collapse of biodiversity.

The talk was one of numerous topics discussed last week in Wallonia, Belgium, as over 200 representatives of the BirdLife family congregated to the Golden Lakes resort in Belgium to attend the 2018 BirdLife General Partnership Meeting.


107 Partners were represented at our 2018 GPM.


Held every five years, these landmark events offer a rare chance for representatives of all 117 BirdLife Partners to meet under one roof and agree on a strategy for the next half-decade of conservation. And with Clarke’s words of warning echoing through the halls, there seemed to be more at stake than ever.

Highlights of a packed 2018 GPM calendar included a review of our common progress towards the 2013-2022 Strategy, a discussion of how to move forward with our IBA/KBA work, and how to secure stronger financial sustainability and strengthen the Partnership and its capacity – particularly in mega-biodiverse countries. Below are the main outcomes:


In addition to looking at our common work, our successes and our future plans, the BirdLife Partnership elected our Government, both at the regional and Global levels.  We are delighted to announce that the BirdLife Partnership selected Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, former Executive Secretary of the Convention of Biological Diversity, as the Chair of the Global Council.

A Brazilian national, Braulio brings vast expertise and experience to the role, having previously worked for the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment in a number of high-profile roles (where he continues to advise on biodiversity policies). He was also Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) from February 2012 to February 2017, and is currently Associate Professor at the University of Brasilia’s Department of Ecology.

“I am honoured by the support I have received from the BirdLife Partners to take on the position of Chair of the Global Council. The unique approach BirdLife has with 117 Partners around the world with boots on the ground demonstrating that when we work together we can have meaningful impact at the regional and Global levels is and asset that I highly value” said Braulio following his election.

“I look forward to helping the BirdLife Partners continue to grow, making the Partnership as strong as ever, particularly in light of the changes that the Global Conservation Agenda will have with the new deal for nature to be approved in 2020 in Beijing,”

The Partnership also re-elected Nick Prentice as the treasurer, Shawn Lum and Sarath Kotagama representing Asia, Paul Sullivan representing the Pacific with newly elected Kevin Hague from New Zealand, Achilles Byaruhanga (Uganda) representing Africa with newly elected Claudia Feltrup-Azafzaf (Tunisia) and Mark Anderson (South Africa), Assad Serhal (Lebanon), with newly elected Yehya Khaled (Jordan), Gergö Halmos (Hungary) with newly elected Vera Voronova (Kazakhstan) and Philippe Funken (Belgium), and the new representatives from the Americas David O’Neill (USA), Rosabel Miro (Panama) and Alberto Yanosky (Paraguay).

“The trust of my African peers has sincerely touched me and I feel very honoured to be part of the BirdLife Global Council”, said Caludia Feltrup-Azafzaf, Executive Director, AAO/BirdLife Tunisia, following her election.

Post 2020 biodiversity agenda

BirdLife is to work on a compelling narrative that will drive social demand for change and put pressure on governments to act now. As part of this, a Partners “Task Team” will be established to work with the Secretariat to shape our approach.

Preventing Extinctions

Forest & Bird (BirdLife in New Zealand) to prepare a proposal to BirdLife Council to co-ordinate an Invasive Alien Species programme – an approach similar to that which has seen the RSPB lead BirdLife’s Marine Programme, with great success. It was agreed BirdLife must retain its focus on species -  with work on bird trade, including Indian birds and African parrots, an increased priority.


Moving forward together as a Partnership, we will embrace Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), an evolution of our long-running IBA network, as they become the global currency for the most important sites for nature. New tech such as drones and mobile apps will play a bigger part in IBA monitoring in the next few years.


Our Partners in India and Kazakhstan will explore collaboration across the Central Asian Flyway in co-ordinating conservation actions by Partners. BirdLife will advocate for a migratory bird conservation target in the post-2020 agenda.


Name changed from ‘Forests of Hope’ to, simply, ‘Forests Programme’ as focus widens from key sites to all Forest IBAs – a move that opens the programme to more Partners.


Recognising global concern over marine plastics, the Partnership supports the exploration of Forest & Bird taking on a co-ordinating role as we look to step up our work on this key issue.

Capacity Development

Increased attention on ecotourism as an opportunity for engagement and fundraising for BirdLife Partners.

And finally...

The next General Partnership Meeting is scheduled for 2022 – as part of BirdLife International’s 100th anniversary celebrations.