1st Maldives Protected and Conserved Areas Forum 2024 Brings Together Experts to Plan Future Ambitions for Maldives’ Protected Area Network
The first Maldives Protected and Conserved Areas (PCA) Forum was organised from the 15th to 18th of January 2024. The PCA Forum brought together individuals engaged in the field of Protected and Conserved Areas across Maldives. The forum provided a platform to share and exchange knowledge, explore synergies and collaborative opportunities, and learn from global partners.
The workshop was a collaborative effort led by the Ministry of Climate Change, Environment and Energy, Maldives and the Ocean Country Partnership Programme (OCPP), a UK-Government led project delivered under the Blue Planet Fund. Additionally, the IUCN Asia Regional Office (ARO) served as a technical collaborator and a key driver of regional conservation initiatives, including the 30x30 and IUCN Green List.
The four-day event brought together over 80 representatives from the Maldives Government, associated authorities, NGOs and international protected area experts.
The aims of the Forum were to:
- Share knowledge from global and national context to strengthen the national performance towards the achievement of The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
- Share experiences from existing projects for synergising and seeking opportunities for future collaborative action towards protected and conserved areas in the Maldives.
- Initiate discussions towards national action and roadmap for achieving Target 3 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
- Strengthen the capacity of protected and conserved area managers across the Maldives.
In his address to the Forum, Minister of Climate Change, Environment, and Energy, H.E. Thoriq Ibrahim remarked that this was ‘the beginning of a journey that will actively contribute to the conservation of our crucial ecosystems’.
“As a low-lying nation, we are at the frontline of the impacts of climate change. The time to act is now. For our nation, this is a matter of survival. Partnerships and collaborations are essential for us. Initiatives such as this forum, create platforms and unite individuals, organisations and nations at the forefront of combating the triple planetary crisis,” he said.
At the concluding day several dignitaries joined, including Minister of Cities, Local Government and Public Works Adam Shareef Umar, British High Commissioner to the Maldives Caron Röhsler, and Dr. Dindo Campilan, IUCN Regional Director for Asia and Hub Director for Oceania and Co-Chair Asia Protected Area Partnership (APAP).
The British High Commissioner to the Maldives, Caron Röhsler also addressed the Forum.
“Maldives is an extraordinarily beautiful and unique environment. It is also fragile, and extremely important to the creatures who live here, including humans. For humans, non-human animals, and plants it delivers food and shelter. Humans also derive prosperity from this amazing interaction of sand, water, weather and biodiversity. In doing so, we must tread lightly and give back in proportion to what we take: this is the definition of sustainability.”
A ceremony to officially announce the Maldives as 4th APAP Chair was held on the last day of the Forum. The Ministry of Climate Change, Environment and Energy, Republic of Maldives, took over the chairmanship from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), Government of India, which recently completed its two-year tenure. Japan and the Republic of Korea had also previously served as country Chairs. Dr Dindo Campilan, in his capacity also as the Co-Chair of APAP representing IUCN ARO, handed over the representative plaque to H.E. Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy, Government of the Maldives.
In accepting the role, H.E. Ibrahim stressed that the Ministry aspires to expand the partnership across Asian countries in critical frontiers of conservation. Dr Campilan, IUCN Regional Director for Asia and Hub Director for Oceania and Co-Chair APAP, expressed hope that “as an archipelagic nation, the Maldives will be able to serve as a model for MPA conservation for countries facing similar ecosystem challenges”.
The four-day forum was attended by over 80 participants from various countries and concluded with notable outcomes. The establishment of nature parks and three additional biosphere reserves in each atoll was announced. In addition, six Marine Science Masters Scholarships were awarded. The forum also unveiled a website (www.protectedareas.environment.gov.mv) and handbook, providing information on protected and conserved areas for public access.
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