A global inception workshop, held in IUCN’s headquarters from 21 to 23 March, marked the starting point for the implementation of the BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management) Programme. Launched by the European Commission in July 2011, BIOPAMA is funded through Intra-ACP (Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific countries) resources from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). BIOPAMA has two main components: a Protected Areas component, and an Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) component.
The protected area component aims to improve planning and management by using the best available data and scientific knowledge. Jointly implemented by IUCN and the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), this component will establish Regional Observatories that will adapt the project to the regional context and serve as platforms for exchanging knowledge between local, national, regional and global experts and institutions. The second component addresses Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) – adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to ensure fair sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. This component will be implemented by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) within the framework of its multi-donor funded ABS Capacity Development Initiative.
BIOPAMA will combine a variety of approaches:
By making better use of data on biodiversity and socio-economic issues, the project will enhance the understanding of the ecological and human factors that influence the management of protected areas. Regional capacity building programmes will be developed in partnerships with existing institutions, such as regional training centres and universities. These programmes will involve updating and expanding curricula on conservation and protected areas, developing tool kits to solve priority regional issues, training of decision makers, protected area staff, and others.
The observatories will build on global efforts for collecting data, directly from the ground, from national services, and from international institutions holding relevant information on biodiversity, pressures and threats. They will have the general mandate of ensuring the awareness and effective buy-in to the necessity to maintain efforts on biodiversity conservation of political institutions of the three regions.
The project will enhance IUCN’s regional partnerships with institutions such as the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP), as well as existing global partnerships such as with UNEP-WCMC and the EC/ACP Secretariat. It also opens opportunities to develop new innovative work with the EC-Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC). On IUCN’s side, a number of global programmes, the regional offices in the three regions of implementation, and two commissions - WCPA and SSC – are involved in BIOPAMA. The project will demonstrate how to integrate all parts of IUCN – Secretariat, Commissions and Members and therefore is an excellent practical example of IUCN’s “One Programme” approach.
The inception workshop brought together 52 participants, representing the various project partners and other relevant institutions. They gained a better understanding of the project’s structure and objectives, discussed how to link BIOPAMA with existing initiatives, and agreed on some steps for the road ahead. All participants shared the excitement and anticipation of making BIOPAMA become reality.
After this inception workshop, the next key moment will be a series of regional workshops that need to focus on identifying specific needs, since the main issues and problems that protected areas are facing in ACP regions differ greatly: Among the major problems in Africa are invasive alien species and the legacy derived from the exclusion of local people from protected areas in the past; in the Caribbean PAs face heavy pressure from tourism, while in Oceania a large portion of the land is community owned, which is one reason why there is a need for ridge to reef planning processes to ensure effective conservation.
IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme (GPAP) is proud to see BIOPAMA taking off, and believes that this project represents a unique opportunity to revitalize IUCN’s work on protected areas in the regions involved. For GPAP it will be a challenge, but also a pleasure to lead and facilitate the effective implementation of this project whilst exploring options for follow-up initiatives of a global scope that can build on the lessons learned, partnerships and achievements of BIOPAMA.