Minutes of the 42nd Annual General Meeting, held online by Zoom, Saturday 28 November 2020

1. Members Present:

 Yasser Abboushi, Bahaa Al Mashtoub, Kerem Ali Boyla, Nabegh Ghazal Asswad, Georg Boeselager, Enid Burman, Oscar Campbell, Melis Charalambides, John Cole, Sal Cooke, Elaine Cowan, Helen Demopoulos, Paul Donald, Paul Goriup, Alan Graham, Tomas Axén Haraldsson, Ian Harrison, Chris Hughes, Nick Moran, Deborah Newman, Richard Porter, Colin Richardson, Philip Roberts, Rob Sheldon, Paul Stancliffe, Simon Tull, John Warr, Effie Warr, Geoff Welch, Hilary Welch.

2. Apologies for absence

Apologies for absence were received from: AbdulRahman Al Sirhan, Murray Brown, Mike Jennings, Andrew Lassey, Stephen Menzie and Arend Wassink

3. Minutes of the 41st Annual General Meeting held on 29 June 2019

Acceptance of the Minutes was carried unanimously (18 in favour, zero against).

4. Matters arising

a) Chairman Rob Sheldon answered Richard Porter’s question concerning the lack of Vice Presidents being appointed, by saying that the work of Vice Presidents was currently under review and that a new set of Terms of Reference would be discussed at the Council Meeting following the AGM; invitations would be sent out in early 2021.

b) Guy Kirwan’s point about carbon offsetting; the Chairman noted that this is a very complex area and was felt to be beyond OSME’s current capacity but added that OSME had considered schemes through which we could offset carbon and was looking in particular at that administered by the World Land Trust.

5. Chairman’s overview of 2019

Rob Sheldon reminded members that full details are available on the OSME website and that he would therefore be offering only a snapshot of OSME’s achievements.

a) the Android version of the App for the Arabic version of Birds of the Middle East was released in January.

b) Together with BirdLife, OSME has been assessing the illegal killing of birds in the Arabian peninsula, Iraq and Iran; the paper published in Sandgrouse 41(2) mentions between 1.7 and 4.6 millions birds being killed annually in this area. The project’s new phase will focus on developing a strategy to bring these numbers down.

c) £19,124 from the Conservation Fund was awarded in 2019 to a variety of projects – details were given in Sandgrouse 42(2); the amount of money given to worthwhile projects has been increasing year on year after a Council decision to spend more of OSME’s resources in this way.

d) The Youth Development Fund, launched at the Rutland Birdfair in 2019, has been a great success although the small grants scheme overseen by Tomas Haraldsson has been curtailed in 2020 because of Covid-19.

e) The Tevor Poyser Species Conservation Fund was launched at the 2019 Summer Meeting; one grant of £5000 is awarded annually, 2020 being given to a study of Egyptian Vultures in Turkey. The deadline for applications is 1 December each year.

f) OSME is increasingly active on social media – Twitter has over 4,500 followers, for example, as well as an active Facebook page, frequent blogs on the website and the OSMEBirdNet group.

g) Paul Donald took over as Editor of Sandgrouse at the 2019 Summer Meeting and has now produced two issues.

h) Governance. It was noted that OSME is financially healthy, Council meets three times a year, there is ongoing dialogue, and all activities are run in accordance with our charitable status.

In answer to a question to the Chairman, it was stated that donors can certainly specify which project they would like their money to fund – such donations go into restricted funds.

Comment: Simon Tull, Qatar, suggested that links to the downloads of the two platforms of the Arabic Birds of the Middle East App should be placed on the website – as he has done with the Birds of Qatar website.

6. Presentation and adoption of the Accounts for 2019/Appointment of Accounts Examiner for 2020

Chris Hughes, Joint Treasurer, highlighted the following:

a) Membership was stable with an increase in supporting members –  very encouraging – and has actually increased slightly in 2020.

b) There has been a record level of donations – £40,000.

c) Money has been made available for updates to both the Android and IOS platforms of the Arabic Birds of the Middle East App.

d) A record spend from the Conservation Fund, £19,124.

e) A digital version of Sandgrouse is now available and 100 members are now receiving it, with over 40 of these opting for digital only.

f) OSME has current assets of £97,047, £62,681 of which is in restricted funds (donors have specified which project the money should be allocated to) and £34,366 in the general fund. Restricted donations have increased enormously while other revenue streams remain fairly constant.

g) Conservation funding by country from 2001-2019 was illustrated in a table; Middle East countries received 42% of the funding, Central Asia 33%, the Caucasus 21% and unclassified OSME countries across the region 4%.

h) 2020 highlights included a 2% increase in membership; a decline in corporate donations because of Covid-19 although past careful stewardship of funds means OSME is in a good position financially; a projected record of over £20,000 conservation project funding, plus £5000 on Youth Development projects and £5000 from the Trevor Poyser Fund – a total of over £30,000, a major achievement; a projected end of year balance of £85,000.

Questions/Comments. Richard Porter asked for more detail of the supported member’s programme. Chris Hughes said that there had been an increase in donations from members for supported members, mentioning Lebanon and Azerbaijan in particular (through the Youth development programmes there), as well as Turkey where supported members receive the digital version of Sandgrouse only.

The Treasurer’s Report and the Accounts (which had been available on the OSME website) were formally voted on and adopted by the members present (23 in favour, zero against) and will be passed to the Charity Commission.

Mike Jennings was formally approved by the members present to continue as Accounts Examiner (gratis) for the 2020 Accounts (22 in favour, zero against).

7 – Election of officers:

Vice-Presidents:

No nominations.

Council Members:

Murray Brown, proposed by Sal Cooke and seconded by Nabegh Ghazal Asswad was elected unanimously (24 in favour, zero against).

8 – Any other business

No issue was raised.

There being no other business, the Meeting was closed at 10.55GMT