The IUCN World Parks Congress is a landmark global forum on protected areas held every ten years. As the world’s most influential gathering of people involved in protected area management, it sets the global agenda for the following decade.
The next IUCN World Parks Congress will take place in 2014 in Sydney, Australia.
Parks, People, Planet – Inspiring Solutions at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress
As challenges in sustainable development and sustainable use of the earth’s natural resources accelerate, the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress will play a key role in ensuring that protected areas can contribute towards addressing them. The ultimate aim of the Congress is to position parks and protected areas firmly within broader goals of economic and community wellbeing. The theme of the Congress has therefore been selected as Parks, People Planet: Inspiring Solutions.
In Sydney, meeting the challenges of sustainable development and contributing to community wellbeing will be achieved by increasing understanding of the vital role of protected areas in conserving biodiversity and delivering ecosystem services. This progress will contribute substantially to realizing IUCN’s overall vision of a “just world that values and conserves nature.”
More than a meeting place, the Congress will set the protected areas agenda through its design to achieve outcomes that have global and local impact, and influence the direction and trends involved in contemporary protected area management. To achieve real impact, the Congress aims to bring together not only leaders in the parks and protected areas field, but also business, government and influential individuals that depend on or impact protected areas. It will also strive to engage a diversity of young people around the world as the main proponents of a new vision and perspective on the role and value of protected areas. This holistic view will ensure WPC 2014 results in outcomes that last, and that will influence policy, practice and perspectives for conservation and development in the decade that follows.
Priority Objectives of the Congress
Three priority objectives for the Congress have been identified, based on the three foundations of the current IUCN Programme.
The three priority objectives include:
- PARKS – Valuing and conserving nature
The WPC 2014 will strengthen policy and action commitments for the expansion, connectivity and better management of parks and protected areas to cover all areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services.
- PEOPLE – Effective and equitable governance of nature’s use
The WPC 2014 will foster the equitable governance of parks and protected areas to empower communities (including indigenous peoples) to become involved and to benefit.
- PLANET – Deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges
The WPC 2014 will explore and promote parks and protected areas as natural solutions to global challenges such as climate change, food and water security, health and a green economy.
The 2014 World Parks Congress will take on special significance as it falls right before the mid-point of the ten year timeframe of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed upon at the CBD meeting in Nagoya, Japan in 2010. Target 11 calls for at least 17% of the world’s terrestrial areas and 10% of the world’s marine areas to be equitably managed and conserved by 2020. The Congress will effectively serve as a mid-term Target 11 summit, providing conservation leaders the opportunity to take stock of progress and suggest new, bold approaches for moving forward on protected areas and biodiversity conservation.
As the only independent body that can objectively produce the standards and information to track the Target, IUCN will have the opportunity at WPC 2014 to demonstrate leadership and convening power, and to be recognized as the world’s premier source of knowledge, standards and measurement for biodiversity conservation initiative.
Since its first staging in 1962 in Seattle, USA, the World Parks Congress has substantially influenced the way in which the world has viewed systems of protected areas. The series of Congresses has influenced and tracked perspectives on the role of PAs in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Each Congress has been vital to conservation policy worldwide, addressing global challenges and opportunities, establishing standards to ensure that protected areas are effective, and being a source of inspiration and innovation for the decade that follows.
The IUCN World Parks Congress has been convened five times at ten year intervals since 1962.
- 1962: definitions and standards for representative systems leading to the UN list of PAs;
- 1972: conservation of ecosystems, genesis of World Heritage and Wetlands Conventions;
- 1982: PAs in sustainable development, development assistance in PAs
- 1992: Global change and PAs; PA categories and management effectiveness;
- 2003: Governance, sustainable finance, capacity development, linkages in the landscape and seascape, equity and benefit sharing.
At this most recent Congress, held in Durban, South Africa, entitled “Benefits Beyond Boundaries” the Congress prepared the Durban Action Plan, adopted by the CBD COP (Conference of Parties) 7 as the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (POWPA). As the IUCN World Parks Congress enters its sixth decade in Sydney in 2014, it will inspire solutions for people, parks and the planet. It will generate Hope for a Protected Planet by addressing some of the fundamental issues facing protected areas, but moreover highlight the opportunities and solutions that they offer to the world.