Evolution of the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas


Evolution of the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas

Good ideas often take time to emerge and to be accepted. The idea of a Green List of Protected Areas began as an extension of work on the effectiveness of management of protected areas. Concerns about protected area effectiveness date back to at least the third IUCN World Parks Congress that took place in Bali in 1982, although little was done to develop systems for assessing management effectiveness until after the 4th IUCN World Parks Congress in Caracas ten years later.

By the time of the 5th IUCN World Parks Congress held in Durban in 2003, management effectiveness had become an important issue on the global protected areas agenda, and it was the subject of one of the major workshops at that meeting. One of the sessions in this workshop stream addressed the issue of protected area certification with papers looking at the connection between management effectiveness evaluation and systems for certification such as the WWF-led Pan Parks approach in Europe that certified tourism management in protected areas. A paper arising from the stream canvassed the various options available for certification of protected areas and some of the issues and challenges to be overcome in developing such a system.

Five years later at meeting to assess progress since the 5th IUCN World Parks Congress, the Durban +5 review meeting, the idea was raised of developing both a Red List of Threatened Protected Areas and a Green List of successful protected areas. The idea of a Green List captured participants imagination and work began to turn the proposal from an idea to reality. What seemed a simple notion, linked to the work on management effectiveness has proved to be rather more challenging to convert to a feasible and credible system that is ready to be applied around the world.

A pilot study was initiated in Colombia in early 2012 with support from the Colombia National Parks Service and WWF. Endorsement for the idea of “green listing” of protected areas, species and ecosystems was obtained through a Resolution of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju in September, 2012. So from incipient beginnings at the IUCN World Parks Congress in 1982, the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas will become a reality at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney in November this year, with more than ten partner countries already directly involved.

Prof Marc Hockings, Queensland University, Australia