World Commission on Protected Areas


IUCN WCPA Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures Specialist Group is promoting conservation beyond protected areas by providing guidance on identifying, recognising, supporting and reporting OECMs.
OECM screenshot used for publications

Specialist Group Leaders

Kathy MacKinnon
Harry Jonas

What is an ‘OECM’?  

‘Other effective area-based conservation measures’ (OECMs) is a conservation designation for areas that are achieving the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside of protected areas. From 2015 to 2018, IUCN provided technical advice to Parties on OECMs to the CBD through a WCPA Task Force on OECMs (Reports). In 2018, Parties to the CBD agreed guiding principles, common characteristics and criteria for the identification of OECMs (CBD Decision 14/8). An ‘other effective area-based conservation measure’ is defined by the CBD as:

A geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant values (CBD, 2018).

Governments, relevant organizations, Indigenous peoples and local communities are invited to apply the voluntary guidance on OECMs to identify, recognise and support OECMs, and report data on OECMs to the World Databased on OECMs at the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).

Identification of OECMs offers a significant opportunity to increase recognition and support for de facto effective long-term conservation that is taking place outside currently designated protected areas under a range of governance and management regimes, implemented by a diverse set of actors, including by Indigenous peoples and local communities, the private sector and government agencies.

Our objectives

By enabling and enhancing the appropriate identification, recognition, support and reporting of OECMs across landscapes and seascapes, we aim to:

  • Promote equitable governance, effective management and positive conservation outcomes.
  • Increase coverage of ecologically representative areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services.
  • Support the recovery of threatened species.
  • Enhance connectivity between protected and conserved areas and across landscapes and seascapes.
  • Foster engagement with a diverse range of rights-holders and stakeholders who contribute to area-based conservation outside of protected areas.
  • Support sustainable livelihoods and provide a framework to help transform sectoral practices.  
  • Address climate change by contributing to net-zero climate targets and building resilience to the physical impacts of climate change through nature-based solutions.

Our activities

We work towards our objectives by:

  • Developing guidance and methodologies to help identify, recognise, support and report OECMs.  
  • Running capacity development events and facilitating lesson sharing among diverse rightsholders and stakeholders.
  • Working with UNEP-WCMC, national governments and other actors to help report OECMs, including verification where necessary, as well as monitoring their effectiveness and equity. 
  • Promoting legal, policy and institutional reform to enable the appropriate recognition of OECMs.
  • Using multimedia to document and communicate relevant aspects of particular OECMs, as well as the evolution of laws, policies and practices.

Contact us
Email the co-chairs:

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