Climate Action

World’s migratory species in decline, UN report warns

Nearly half of the world’s migratory species are in decline and the global extinction risk is increasing, a new UN report has revealed.

  • 13 February 2024
  • Press Release

Nearly half of the world’s migratory species are in decline and the global extinction risk is increasing, a new UN report has revealed. 

The first-ever State of the World’s Migratory Species report, launched by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), reveals while some migratory species listed under CMS are improving, nearly half (44 percent) are showing population declines.

The report also reveals that more than one-in-five (22 per cent) of CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction and nearly all (97 per cent) of CMS-listed fish are threatened with extinction.

In addition to this, the extinction risk is growing for migratory species globally, including those not listed under CMS.

The report notes that climate change, pollution and invasive species are also having profound impacts on migratory species.

Until now, no such comprehensive assessment on migratory species has been carried out. The report provides a global overview of the conservation status and population trends of 2 migratory animals, combined with the latest information on their main threats and successful actions to save them.

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said: “Today’s report clearly shows us that unsustainable human activities are jeopardizing the future of migratory species – creatures who not only act as indicators of environmental change but play an integral role in maintaining the function and resilience of our planet’s complex ecosystems."

Billions of animals make migratory journeys each year on land, in the oceans and in the skies, crossing national boundaries and continents, with some travelling thousands of miles across the globe to feed and breed. Migratory species play an essential role in maintaining the world’s ecosystems, and provide vital benefits, by pollinating plants, transporting key nutrients, preying on pests, and helping to store carbon.

Prepared for CMS by conservation scientists at the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the CMS State of the World’s Migratory Species report uses the world's most robust species data sets and features expert contributions from institutions including BirdLife International, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Inger Andersen added: "The global community has an opportunity to translate this latest science of the pressures facing migratory species into concrete conservation action. Given the precarious situation of many of these animals, we cannot afford to delay, and must work together to make the recommendations a reality.”

Find out more here.