The Milestone Meeting
In 2012, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, led by President Almazbek Atambaev, began spearheading an initiative that would comprehensively address high-mountain environmental issues using the conservation of the charismatic and endangered snow leopard as a flagship.
This iconic and culturally treasured great cat is a good indicator species as it quickly reacts to habitat disturbance and its successful conservation requires sustainable long-term systemic solutions to virtually all major environmental issues impacting the quality of habitats.
President Atambaev’s model for the effort was the Global Tiger Initiative’s Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), launched by the Heads of Governments of the 13 tiger range countries (TRCs) at the International Tiger Forum in St. Petersburg in 2010. The GTRP is a comprehensive global approach, led by the TRCs with support from global partners, that systemically advances the conservation of wild tigers and their ecosystems in Asia.
At President Atambaev’s request, the Global Tiger Initiative’s Secretariat at the World Bank, in technical partnership with the Snow Leopard Trust and NABU, offered its support and advice to guide the process of developing a Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) with the participation of the 12 snow leopard range countries.
Subsequently, the snow leopard range countries, with the participation of many partners, held a series of meetings and did intense work to develop individual National Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programs (NSLEPs).
These NSLEPs are the core of the GSLEP. In addition, the international community developed Global Support Components (GSCs) to offer assistance when the issues to be addressed transcend national boundaries and go beyond the capacity of any one country to address alone. These also form part of the GSLEP.
Simultaneous with developing the GSLEP, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic prepared to host the Heads of States of the snow leopard range countries at the first International Forum on Snow Leopard Conservation in Bishkek in 2013.
At that Forum, held October 22-23, 2013, the Heads of State issued the Bishkek Declaration on the Conservation of Snow Leopards, whose stated goal is “to protect and recover snow leopard populations and their fragile habitats for all people to enjoy” and endorsed the GSLEP as the road map for achieving that goal.