The pilot Reference Groups (RGs) for the developing IUCN Green List of Protected Areas are spread across four continents, meaning that the internet and Skype have been very important collaboration tools for the past two years. There is however, no substitute for getting together to talk in more depth through the challenging issues we face, and to find common solutions.
During the Green List development phase, meetings have been held in Seoul, South Korea (October 2013), and in Malaga, Spain (March 2014), marking important milestones in collaboration. The most recent meeting, in June 2014, took place over three days in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2014, at the Acacia Conservancy, a small natural reserve near the city. Every morning at 6.30 a.m., before the workshop started, participants enjoyed a guided walk around a part of the Conservancy keeping participants grounded but also inspired to greater efforts to establish the IUCN GLPA.
The Kenya workshop provided an opportunity for all the Reference Groups to share their experiences in adopting the IUCN GLPA program, in establishing themselves as the responsible parties to deliver the programme, in adapting the IUCN GLPA Standard to their contexts, in selecting candidate PAs, and in working towards preparation of PA Prospectuses for presentation to the IUCN. It also enabled collaboration among and between RGs. For instance, the groups representing Italy, France and Spain are working in parallel with the intention of achieving a common approach for the Mediterranean region, anticipating that other Mediterranean countries will join their initiative in due course.
A key objective of the meeting was to present and discuss the Assurance Methodology, and to introduce the RGs to their appointed IUCN Reviewers, who will help them with the challenges they face in the coming months leading up to the launch at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.
The discussions on assurance were very positive, with all RGs recognising the importance of long-term credibility and trust in the IUCN GLPA. The meeting also resulted in a good collaborative working relationship between the RGs and their Reviewers. There were, of course, many issues discussed and resolved, much heated debate, a strong sense of camaraderie, and a sense that together we are creating a solution that over time can make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation globally.
Daniela Rubio, IUCN Green List Project Officer