Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries host a huge share of our planet’s biodiversity. They all face the challenge of establishing and managing their protected areas in order to conserve key species and maintain natural ecosystems and the services they provide. BIOPAMA aims to address challenges of ACP governments by enhancing individual and institutional capacity to improve biodiversity conservation decision-making and more effective protected areas management.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) calls on initiatives such as BIOPAMA “to align capacity-building so as to further support implementation of national action plans for the programme of work on protected areas, and to continue to develop technical guidance to achieve the full scope of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11”. Two years into its implementation, BIOPAMA has been progressing in building capacity to improve policy and decision making on biodiversity conservation and protected areas management, including through coordination and support to national governments and regional organizations.
In Africa, BIOPAMA has developed relations with individual countries, based on specific requests and other IUCN engagements in the region. For example, BIOPAMA has supported the evaluation and revision of the National Human–Wildlife Conflict Strategy of the Government of Mozambique. The results of an evaluation and recommendations for the revision of the strategy will be presented to the Government of Mozambique. This process will inform similar work in other countries. Furthermore, at the request of the Government of Mali, BIOPAMA provided technical advice to government representatives, local communities and local authorities on the establishment of protected areas connectivity corridors. As part of the BIOPAMA Capacity Building Action Plan, several governments from the region have participated in cross-sectoral dialogues addressing land and resource use in and around protected areas - especially World Heritage sites – and specifically relating to extractive industries and agriculture, and this will drive future dialogue and the development of plans for joint actions.
In the Caribbean, BIOPAMA participated in discussions of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, involving eight island nations from the region– The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis – five of which have signed formal agreements to protect at least 20 percent of their near-shore marine and coastal habitats by 2020. In addition, BIOPAMA is supporting the first efforts in the Bahamas to review their protected area categories.
BIOPAMA conducted field missions to work with Pacific countries (Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) toward undertaking economic valuations of marine and coastal ecosystems in order to contribute to national development planning. In addition the missions examined ways to support efforts by countries to extend national Marine Protected Area networks through seascape-level planning and promoting effective approaches protected area management, including the recognition of locally managed marine areas and community-based conservation efforts through payments for ecosystem services.
A key aspect of BIOPAMA’s support to ACP governments relates to supporting implementation of, and reporting on, NBSAPs (National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans). In Eastern and Southern Africa for example, BIOPAMA is focusing on the interface between protected areas, biodiversity, and other sectors. This is in line with Target 2 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Target 1.2 of the CBD Programme of Work for Protected Areas (PoWPA), both centring on integration of biodiversity concerns into the broader context (mainstreaming). “This interface means it is crucial for BIOPAMA to focus on supporting improved decision-making for protected areas and biodiversity”, says Christine Mentzel, BIOPAMA regional coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa.
Across all the regions, BIOPAMA’s interactions with the ACP State authorities will expand in 2014 with the launch of the BIOPAMA Regional Observatories for Protected Areas, which will facilitate networking of experts and institutions, and coordinate technical and policy support to national agencies and regional organizations.