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The IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

Protected areas are widely regarded as one of the most successful measures implemented for the conservation of biodiversity, drawing upon traditional and community-based approaches, governance regimes, scientific and traditional knowledge and contemporary practices of governments and conservation agencies. 

IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme has a long heritage in the Union, with a headquarters-based core team, regional staff, and a closely coordinated programme of activities with the World Commission on Protected Areas. Together with IUCN members, they implement a single unified work programme for the Secretariat:  FileJoint work programme for the IUCN programme period 2017-2020.135.78 KB


Role of the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

 IUCN’s global leadership – IUCN is a recognised global leader in protected area policy, science and management practice;

 Global relevance and impact of the issues covered by the programme – a large part of IUCN’s global programme is dedicated to protected areas, including its membership, budget and projects that are spent directly or indirectly in and for protected areas and protected area systems;

 International and regional convening power and ability to influence policy and effect behaviour change – IUCN and IUCN-WCPA are recognised as providers of technical guidance for the CBD on protected areas;

• The opportunity to determine and maintain international standards – IUCN has established the system of PA categories and governance types, and a system of determining the management effectiveness of protected areas. Certification of protected area quality is a potential opportunity;

• The opportunity to develop and communicate an international brand in best practice knowledge products – IUCN is the custodian of the definitions of Protected Areas, the system of Protected Areas Categories and the UN List of Protected Areas, pulled together as Protected Planet and the IUCN Green List;

• Opportunities for the IUCN Secretariat, Commissions, Members and Regions to work together to prove concepts in the field and mobilize the Union, that requires global leadership and co-ordination, e.g. the advancement of cutting edge guidance such as Natural Solutions for Climate Change;

• Funding and partnership opportunities that require a one programme value proposition (for scope, depth, reach and impact). In the light of the emerging new business model, the niche of the Global Programme on Protected Areas is anchored in IUCN’s knowledge products, exercised through project partnerships in regions, and intended to influence and support IUCN’s wider membership for scaled up implementation. But Protected Areas are essentially a delivery mechanism for many elements of IUCN’s programmatic work, resulting in institutional and management capacity to give effect to many biodiversity conservation and natural resource management objectives in terrestrial, coastal and marine environments. Advocating that PAs are mainstreamed as a cross-cutting approach is a specific charge and opportunity for IUCN’s leadership.


Priorities of the Global Protected Areas Programme

IUCN World Conservation Congress: Ensuring that recommendations and resolutions passed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress are on track and implemented IUCN PA Resolutions and Recommendations

IUCN World Parks Congress: Promoting and ensuring the application of the four pillars of the Promise of Sydney: the Vision, the twelve innovative approaches to transformative change, the olutions and the Pledges
Promise of Sydney.

The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)GPAP acts as focal point for WCPA - the world's premier network of protected area expertise. 

The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas:  improving the contribution that equitably governed and effectively managed protected areas make to sustainable development through the conservation of nature and provision of associated social, economic, cultural, and spiritual values.BIOPAMA – to  improve  the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in protected areas and surrounding communities.:

PANORAMA, through its “protected area solutions” portal, profiles specific case studies of such solutions, their success factors and lessons learnt

Governance: governance of protected areas plays a key role in helping us to better understand how to create a just world that values and conserves nature.  It is commonly discussed in two dimensions: governance diversity (type) and governance quality

Capacity Development: BIOPAMA and MOOCs in Africa


Discover what GPAP and WCPA were up to at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawai‘i!

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