World Protected Areas Leadership Forum

The World Protected Area Leadership Forum was established during the preparations for the IUCN 5th World Parks Congress in 2003. It is a forum for the leaders of protected areas agencies to discuss the most important issues facing their agencies and to contribute towards the global dialogue on future directions for protected areas. In addition to having an important role to play in advising on programmatic direction for the next IUCN World Parks Congress to be convened in 2014, the objectives of the forum are:

  • Provide opportunities for heads of park and protected area agencies to discuss items of mutual interest and share information;
  • Identify emerging issues and trends in park and protected area management;
  • Discuss the forward agenda for parks and protected area agencies to contribute to the global conservation agenda; and
  • Enhance and expand personal networks

The WPALF is usually hosted in a protected area in the country of one of the WPALF leaders, and involves several days of discussion and a field visit. Participation in the WPALF is by invitation, with the criterion being that the leaders are willing and able to participate in addressing the above objectives in a peer group. From time to time, the WPALF invites extra participants from agencies and organisations in the region where they are meeting, either to play a role in the particular meeting or to maintain an ongoing involvement in the WPALF. Although participants are drawn from agencies, they are not officially representing their agencies in the deliberations of the forum. They engage as peers involved in similar work and who face similar challenges that would benefit from dialogue and exchange. Participation is self-funded, and the host agency usually makes provision for the on-site facilities. IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme acts as the Secretariat.

Currently the WPALF involves leadership from Finland, England, Scotland, Canada, USA, Mexico, Colombia, Kenya, South Africa, Republic of Korea and Australia, as well as from IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme.

As an example of the topics covered, the 2011 WPALF meeting hosted in the Tayrona National Natural Park by the National Parks Agency of Colombia discussed:

  • Enhancing the relevance of PAs in a changing society
  • Protected Areas and Climate Change
  • Challenges and innovation in protected areas
  • IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 and World Parks Congress 2014
  • Implementation of the CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas