What are some key considerations for rolling out the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas (GLPA) in the European context, building on the successful involvement of France, Spain and Italy in the GLPA pilot phase? Being “one of the biggest successes of the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney”, as Jean-Philippe Siblet of the French GLPA expert group put it, the Green List featured prominently at the Little Sydney conference in Hainburg, Austria.
According to Siblet, the Green List focuses on encouragement and good news, which is why it generates excitement. Some of this excitement was brought to the peaceful Danube floodplains in Hainburg, through an intense 3-hour workshop, which introduced participants to the evolution and details of the global Green List standard, and gathered their input.
Discussants from a variety of countries as well as European institutions discussed opportunities and challenges for a further roll-out of the Green List in Europe. They highlighted the need to look at existing protected area frameworks, notably Natura 2000, as well as other standards and certificates, such as the European Diploma for Protected Areas. A first opportunity will be the upcoming global consultation on the standard, where European experts should be deliberately involved in achieving this cross-walk with existing frameworks.
The participants strongly supported the Green List’s inclusive approach of being accessible to any protected area, not only the largest ones or the “best in class”. Particularly in countries like Germany, where many sites are very small, this will be a crucial success factor. The Green List could be very helpful as a “diagnostic tool” for identifying needs for improving performance of sites, and mobilizing resources to meet these needs. Representatives e.g. from Russia and other countries voiced specific interest in this application.
Learning from the collaborative approach taken by the 3 Mediterranean pilot phase countries, it was highlighted that taking such a regional jurisdictional approach will be a good way forward in a continent of many small countries, as is Europe. Finally, participants urged IUCN to invest into strong communications and branding for the Green List – making the Standard known, but also allowing listed parks to put the Green List "stamp” on their stationery.
Clear opportunities exist for recognizing and supporting protected areas in European countries through the Green List, such as in Croatia, one of the new partner jurisdictions. Vice versa, Europe’s particular context will inform the refinement and further development of the Standard. IUCN will take recommendations from Little Sydney on board, together with partners across the European continent.