Capacity development for protected areas management is universally accepted as a top priority. And in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, many protected areas do not achieve their objectives of conserving key species, ecosystems and services, due to limited human and institutional capacity; particularly to access and use information to improve decision making. BIOPAMA (the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme) is responding to this challenge by developing capacity for protected area management through work at the regional level, and through wider collaboration with a range of global actors and local actors to develop and share best practices. Some of these will be showcased at the protected areas event of the decade: the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.
BIOPAMA aims to enhance the work of existing institutions and networks, and build capacity to improve protected area management and biodiversity conservation policy and decision-making. Different approaches and capacity building programmes have been tailored by IUCN for each of the BIOPAMA regions: in Eastern and Southern Africa, the focus is on addressing land and resource use conflicts in and around protected areas, with particular emphasis on working with other sectors such as agriculture, extractive industries, and fisheries. In West and Central Africa, the capacity building programme has a strong focus on formal training and the development of materials for protected areas management, while in the Pacific, recent efforts have centred on environmental law compliance for protected areas (targeting government officials, communities and private practice lawyers) and the delivery of community conservation courses.
In the Caribbean, key capacity development opportunities include a focus at the operational, managerial, and institutional levels through exchanges and trainings. Hyacinth Armstrong Vaughn, BIOPAMA regional coordinator for the Caribbean, says: “In the Caribbean there is a need to start focusing on what capacity development in protected areas really means. The effort that the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 is putting into developing a focused capacity development agenda for the world is one that will help raise awareness in the region for more targeted and focused capacity development. BIOPAMA, through its linkages with IUCN’s commissions of experts, provides an enabling environment through which the dialogue and discussions around a common capacity development agenda can take place. And we especially want to make sure that we support on-going capacity development initiatives”.
Common to all regions is the need to improve access to and use of data and information. To achieve this objective, the EC-JRC (European Commission Joint Research Centre) is developing a BIOPAMA Regional Reference Information System (RRIS). Once launched, the RRIS will require a series of trainings for regional users to enable sharing and use of a wide range of protected area-related data and information for improving decision making.
BIOPAMA supports the objective of the IUCN World Parks Congress Capacity Development theme, to develop and implement a legacy of protected areas capacity development programmes and products. In addition to the specific regional capacity development activities and results, BIOPAMA will present at the IUCN WPC a set of capacity development materials, thus contributing to one of the key capacity development policy aims: the production of learning resources and knowledge products and the development of tools to support achievement of competent professionals.
The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas will support BIOPAMA’s capacity development activities through the development and testing of a comprehensive set of capacity development materials, with some pilot activities in targeted countries, institutions, and agencies in the ACP countries. These capacity building materials and activities, and the initial results of their testing, will be presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014.