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The IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

IUCN’s Programme on Protected Areas has a long heritage in the Union, with a headquarters-based core team and regional staff, and a closely coordinated programme of activities with the World Commission on Protected Areas. An IUCN-commissioned External Strategic Review of the IUCN Programme on Protected Areas was concluded in 2010, making far-reaching recommendations for the revised objectives and functions of a new Global Programme on Protected Areas (GPAP). These included the establishment of a separately managed World Heritage Programme, the appointment of a new Director, Trevor Sandwith, in 2011, and the strengthening of the programme through prioritized budget support.

The Global Programme acts as the focal point for the 1500 member IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, which provides voluntary specialist expertise to the programme. It is also supported by the World Protected Areas Leadership Forum, which has secured secondment of three personnel to the GPAP (from US National Park Service, Parks Canada and Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia. We are working towards a single unified work programme for the Secretariat, Commission and Members during the 2013-2106 Quadrennial period, that will clearly outline the complementary roles and responsibilities.

The IUCN Council in November 2010 noted that the Global Protected Areas Programme had a direct role to play in the implementation of the CBD COP10 decisions, implying the need for additional associated resources and a broader one programme approach that cooperates with other significant themes and regions of IUCN’s programme. There remains a need for close integration of the World Heritage Programme.

2011 therefore marks a new beginning of the Global Programme on Protected Areas, with enhanced global coordination across IUCN’s Secretariat, Regions, Commissions and Members, with a growing portfolio of programmatic and project funding, committed partnerships with key development cooperation partners, the CBD Secretariat and IUCN members for core support, and a 3 year programme to convene the 2014 6th IUCN World Parks Congress, the most prominent event on the global protected areas calendar.

Role of the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

An important consequence of the Strategic Review was the positioning of the GPAP as a global thematic programme of IUCN. Based on this review and a consideration of constraints and opportunities, the functional niche of the global programme has its foundation in: • IUCN’s global leadership – IUCN is a recognised global leader in protected area policy, science and management practice; • Global relevance and impact of the issues covered by the programme – a large part of IUCN’s global programme is dedicated to protected areas, including its membership, budget and projects that are spent directly or indirectly in and for protected areas and protected area systems; • International and regional convening power and ability to influence policy and effect behaviour change – IUCN and IUCN-WCPA are recognised as providers of technical guidance for the CBD on protected areas; • The opportunity to determine and maintain international standards – IUCN has established the system of PA categories and governance types, and a system of determining the management effectiveness of protected areas. Certification of protected area quality is a potential opportunity; • The opportunity to develop and communicate an international brand in best practice knowledge products – IUCN is the custodian of the definitions of Protected Areas, the system of Protected Areas Categories and the UN List of Protected Areas, pulled together as ProtectedPlanet and there are other knowledge products in preparation; • Opportunities for the IUCN Secretariat, Commissions, Members and Regions to work together to prove concepts in the field and mobilize the Union, that requires global leadership and co-ordination, e.g. the advancement of cutting edge guidance such as Natural Solutions for Climate Change; • Funding and partnership opportunities that require a one programme value proposition (for scope, depth, reach and impact). In the light of the emerging new business model, the niche of the Global Programme on Protected Areas is anchored in IUCN’s knowledge products, exercised through project partnerships in regions, and intended to influence and support IUCN’s wider membership for scaled up implementation. But Protected Areas are essentially a delivery mechanism for many elements of IUCN’s programmatic work, resulting in institutional and management capacity to give effect to many biodiversity conservation and natural resource management objectives in terrestrial, coastal and marine environments. Advocating that PAs are mainstreamed as a cross-cutting approach is a specific charge and opportunity for IUCN’s leadership.

Priorities of the Global Protected Areas Programme

The Global Protected Areas Programme implements the IUCN Programme for 2013-2016 across all programmatic elements. Protected Area systems are both ENDS (protected areas directly conserve genetic resources, species, ecosystems and ecosystem processes) and MEANS (to enable many other thematic conservation objectives through in situ implementation, governance and equitable sharing). The priorities of the GPAP will help deliver IUCN’s 2013-2016 Global Programme. Within the three programmatic elements of IUCN’s new quadrennial programme, GPAP has five priority areas as outlined below.

IUCN Programme Area – Valuing and conserving biodiversity


Protected Areas conserve biodiversity

Priority Area 1: Protected areas .... conserving nature

GPAP will measure progress towards the attainment of biodiversity conservation targets in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, especially Target 11, where national governments have committed to establishing protected area systems that are ecologically representative and that conserve areas that are important for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, that are well-connected, effectively and equitably managed, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape. IUCN GPAP working together with UNEP-WCMC and the CBD Secretariat, will report on the status of protected areas globally through the Protected Planet Report, the first issue of which was released in 2012 at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. The way in which GPAP will promote protected areas as conserving nature is ...... MORE.

Build capacity

Priority area 2: Protected areas .... developing capacity

GPAP will facilitate the development of resource materials, develop the curricula for education and training of protected area professionals and develop standards for the the attainment of competent protected area professionals. Key products that support this priority are the IUCN WCPA Best Practice Guidelines in every sphere of protected areas management, including new and emerging issues, the newly re-launched PARKS journal, and a series of quick guides and fact sheets on new topics. IUCN GPAP will partner with the CBD Secretariat and many education and training institutions to provide this support, including through the EU-funded BIOPAMA project.

The way in which GPAP will promote protected areas as developing capacity is ...... MORE.

PAs achieve quality

Priority area 3: Protected areas .... achieving quality

IUCN WCPA has for many years championed the cause of enhancing management effectiveness, and has been supported in this endeavour by decisions of the CBD where national governments have agreed to undertake management effectiveness assessments as a routine component of their national assessment and reporting systems. Management effectiveness assessments measure the extent to which all of the necessary systems and processes are taking place in protected areas, and identify areas for improvement. There remains, however, a need for an international standard that would attest to the success of protected areas in meeting their objectives, including their biodiversity, social and economic objectives. IUCN GPAP is therefore investing in a new global standard, the IUCN Green List, that will list those protected areas that meet minimum standards of effectiveness.

The way in which GPAP will promote quality in protected areas is ...... MORE

IUCN Programme Area – Governing nature’s use and sharing its benefits equitably.


involve people

Priority Area 4: Protected areas ... respecting people

No protected area system could be established or managed without the participation and involvement of people. In this programme area, there will be a focus on two main themes. Firstly, the programme will work towards much greater implementation of issues regarding protected area governance, including the assessment and recognition of the variety of governance types for protected area systems, and the diversity and quality of governance at the system and site levels. These embrace the full suite of protected areas conserved by governments, by indigenous peoples and local communities, by private actors and many cases where these are combined as shared governance, including through multiple agency governance at the landscape scale and transboundary governance across the boundaries of sovereign states. Secondly, the programme will focus on the issue of social assessment for protected areas, the recognition of the rights to benefit, and the distribution of costs and benefits of the establishment and management of protected areas. The entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing will have implications for social assessment for protected areas.

The way in which GPAP will promote protected areas as a means for respecting and involving peoples is ......MORE

IUCN Programme Area – Deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges.


provide solutions

Priority Area 5: Protected areas ... offering solutions

Maintenance of ecosystem resilience is an essential prerequisite for maintaining resilient socio-economic systems in the face of global change, and an expanded connected network of well-managed conservation areas is the most robust proven solution to confront these problems. Simply put, large healthy protected ecosystems conserve biodiversity and address climate change impacts directly and indirectly. Evidence of their value in many sectors is increasing in quality and substance, including for health promotion, food security, water provision, disaster and risk reduction, poverty alleviation and for dealing with the causes and impacts of climate change on ecosystems and society. Protected areas, especially when considering the full suite of management categories and governance types, is the foundation for maintenance of ecosystem integrity and for restoration efforts at the scale of the landscape and the seascape.

The way in which GPAP will promote protected areas as natural solutions is ...... MORE.

Finally, all of these priorities must be a focus of the forthcoming 2014 6th IUCN World Parks Congress where the host country and host state (Australia and New South Wales) will provide a platform for the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme in its widest sense, to envisage the future beyond 2025 and begin now to design responses that will ensure that protected areas are a positive and relevant force and priority for investment in the decade that follows.