The 2017 International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Forum is above all a huge opportunity for the snow leopard. It brings together leaders and experts from government, conservation, academia, donor institutions and business, with one common goal: saving the snow leopard. All twelve range countries will send high-level delegations to the event, and several heads of state are expected to attend – including Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.
It is also an opportunity to raise global awareness for the snow leopard through press and social media. A worldwide petition campaign is ongoing, and more than 100,000 people have already signed an appeal to leaders to take action. If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition now at www.snowleopard.org/sign.
2017 Bishkek Declaration
Range countries are expected to endorse the 2017 Bishkek Declaration, an update on the 2013 document of the same name, which established the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Program (GSLEP). Under this program, countries have agreed to secure at least 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020 – a key step to securing the cat’s future.
The updated declaration will reaffirm this commitment and lay out steps to achieve the goal, e.g. the creation and implementation of landscape management plans, cross-border strategies to combat poaching and illegal trade, and a scaled-up research effort to better understand the snow leopard’s true conservation status.
What it means: real, tangible commitments from governments toward a concrete plan for the cat!
The Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Program has unlocked very significant funding for snow leopard initiatives in various range countries, e.g. through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and USAID. At the Forum, governments and international donor institutions will come together and discuss opportunities to scale the program further.
What it means: significant investments into conservation across the range!
As part of the Forum, business leaders from across the world and representatives from International Financial Institutions will join the conservation community to discuss ideas for green, sustainable development in the snow leopard range. Rural poverty is a major challenge in many parts of the cat’s range, and it intensifies conflicts with herder communities. Bringing employment opportunities to these communities is a key to a long-term coexistence with snow leopards.
What it means: less poverty and more opportunities for local people – to the benefit of the snow leopard.
Experts have prepared a set of best practices for range countries and partners to follow in order to protect the snow leopard and its habitat. They include guidelines to ensure that infrastructure and large-scale developments are planned and implemented with as little impact on the environment as possible; effective strategies to combat poaching, and recommendations on how to best monitor the snow leopard’s conservation status. The Forum will allow for these ideas to be shared and picked up by all countries.
What it means: less damaging development, more effective conservation efforts.
With heads of state, leaders of international organizations, and celebrities such as Dia Mirza participating in the event, snow leopard conservation will feature prominently in global media.
What it means: more wildlife lovers discover and support the snow leopard.
The Role of the Snow Leopard Trust
Along with organizations such as UNDP, GEF, USAID and WWF, the GTI Council and NABU, the Snow Leopard Trust is one of the strategic partners of the event. Snow Leopard Trust staff members have helped lead the preparation of the event and were heavily involved in drafting the 2017 Bishkek Declaration and policy recommendations for range countries. We’ve also provided the GSLEP program secretariat with support around communications and logistics, and will help lead media and PR for the event.
Snow Leopard Trust Executive Director Michael Despines, Science & Conservation Director Charu Mishra, and other members of the Trust’s Science and Operations team will be in Bishkek during the Forum to help provide scientific expertise and share their considerable conservation experience from three decades of field work.