Getting ready for scaling out - Expert Working Group on OECMs established in China
Beijing, 24 May 2023: The Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECM) China Expert Working Group was established during a workshop organized by IUCN China. The event included key Chinese experts from government, research institutions and NGOs. This marks a significant milestone in IUCN's contribution to the development of OECMs in China.
Many areas outside of protected areas (PAs) also contribute to effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity. These areas, known as Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs), have already been recognized under the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and are now reiterated in the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).
OECM in China is still in its early stages. However, pioneering initiatives have already been launched to implement various types of measures and strengthen area-based conservation across the country.
These initiatives include supporting the GBF, implementing territorial applications, analysing relevant policies and establishing civil protected areas. These endeavours are aimed at realizing China's potential OECMs and lay a solid groundwork for future research and development.
There are also a few good practices of successful area-based conservation outside PAs, as well as good potential for exploring OECM across China’s ecological, agricultural, and urban landscapes, as introduced by Dr LV Zhi from Peking University during the workshop.
Furthermore, according to the research by Dr Li Diqiang from the Chinese Academy of Forestry and Mr Guo Yinfeng from the National Marine Hazard Mitigation Service, many laws, regulations and policies related to both terrestrial and marine conservation, spatial planning, and management offer solid support for OECM’s development in China.
In addition, Dr Jin Tong from the Nature Conservancy illustrated that many of the Civil Protected Areas, a measure incorporating NGOs and communities in area-based conservation, could also potentially be recognized as OECMs.
Yet OECM’s development in China faces challenges. Dr Zhou Zhihua, Deputy Director General of the Protected Area Management Department of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, along with other participating experts, pointed out that the lack of clear and localized criteria, the standard, process and mechanisms could lead to great difficulties in recognizing, evaluating and managing OECMs in China. Insufficient funding, large stakeholder groups and limited awareness may also hinder OECM’s development.
The OECM China Expert Working Group established at the workshop comprises experts from government, research institutions, universities and NGOs. As summarized by Mr Zhang Yan, Head of IUCN China, "The OECM China Expert Working Group will foster OECM’s development in China by taking advantage of the existing efforts while trying to address those challenges. Also, with the support from our esteemed experts, IUCN will continue spearheading OECM in China, support the development of localized guidance and mechanisms, promote multi-stakeholder participation, as well as strengthen the communication and exchanges between Chinese experts and the international OECM communities."