22nd – 23rd October 2013.
During the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgz Republic, the 12 snow leopard range country governments (Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) agreed to the ambitious Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), a comprehensive conservation strategy to ensure the long-term survival of these big cats and their fragile mountain habitats.
The goal of the GSLEP is for the 12 Range Countries, with support from NGOs and other interested institutions, to work together to identify and secure 20 snow leopard landscapes across the big cat’s range by 2020, or, in shorthand – “Secure 20 by 2020”. This ambitious programme will lay the foundation to reach the ultimate goal of ensuring that snow leopards remain the living icon of the mountains of Asia for generations to come.
Alongside the Kyrgz Government, The World Bank and colleagues at the Snow Leopard Trust, 2005 Whitley Award winner Charudutt Mishra has played a key role in the development and organisation of the Forum from the very start.
Writing from India, Charu commented on what this landmark achievement means for the future of snow leopards:
“The Global Forum has been a significant step forward in elevating the status of snow leopards. Never before have the all snow leopard range country governments ever met or committed collectively to conserving this iconic cat and the magnificent mountain ecosystem it represents. Not only that, this is the first time that all range countries (and I am talking about the highest levels of the governments, not just conservationists and NGOs) have agreed and acknowledged community involvement to be the key principle for securing the future of snow leopards. To my mind, this is huge, considering that conservation thinking in this part of the world, as indeed elsewhere, has largely been top-down.”
“However, this is the first step, and it depends on us collectively to make sure that intent is turned into action. We are now working to ensure a functioning and active Secretariat, which will include the Environment Ministers of all range countries.”
“This has been an historic opportunity to bring snow leopard conservation into the forefront of political consciousness in Asia. The cause of snow leopards and associated biodiversity conservation now has visibility at the highest level.”
Other NGO’s and institutions that played a key role in the success of the Forum included; GEF, Global Tiger Initiative, NABU, The Snow Leopard Conservancy, UNDP, USAID, and WWF.