EUROPARC Conference, Parc Jura Vaudois, Switzerland, 19 October, 2016
The regular high-school students of the Ecole Secondaire du Vallée de Joux were on their October break, and their classroom was generously made available to the EUROPARC Federation and Parc Jura Vaudois, hosts of the EUROPARC Congress 2016.
The classroom was airy and light, with modern desks and superb display system. 30 protected area professionals filled the room, and the session began.
Introductions gave way to lively presentations, questions and debate. Participants hailed from 17 countries, and represented staff and management from 10 individual protected areas; worked for 12 government environmental and protected area agencies; and from eight academia and civil society groups from across Europe.
The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas is a new global sustainability standard for conservation in the 21st Century. The IUCN Green List Standard defines the characteristics needed to deliver successful conservation outcomes. It encourages decision-makers, staff, supporters and stakeholders in protected areas to measure, improve and maintain good sustainability performance.
The session explored three main elements of the IUCN Green List.
- Firstly, how IUCN had developed a concept that recognises what is working, and helps implement a Standard in order to raise the capacities of protected area managers and staff and their allies.
- Secondly, participants discussed the process, and how IUCN seeks to ensure credibility in the use of the Standard and through recognising the merits and achievements of ‘Green List’ sites.
- Finally, the discussion rounded on Europe, and how the Green List should build on the existing legal frameworks to add value and incentive for better performance. The link between the IUCN Green List and the Natura 2000 sites and networks is a topic that IUCN and Europarc Federation, among other partners, are keen to explore in further detail.
IUCN presented examples of ‘Green List’ protected areas in France (Cerbère-Banyuls Nature Reserve) and Italy (Gran Paradiso National Park). See an example of how the protected area in France met the Green List Standard below.
The discussions also built on the theme of the Europarc Congress, which continued throughout the week. This year’s theme “We are Parks”, examined the role of people in parks, from fundraising to governance models.
The bottom-up democratic model of parks in Switzerland helped conference participants consider how communities can participate in the governance of European parks, while inspiring keynote speakers from the European Environmental Agency and from IUCN (Director General Inger Andersen) provided interesting overviews on what’s going on in Europe and in the World.
Participants also shared experiences:
- Northumberland National Park, in the United Kingdom, shared ideas on how the IUCN Green List may help highlight solutions and address existing challenges;
- In Iceland, the idea of ‘green listing’ protected areas is one that has been tabled since 2014, and could now be developed further a collaboration.
- In Germany, the existing system for comprehensively assessing the management effectiveness of its protected areas could easily lend itself to providing the necessary evidence and assessment for the IUCN Green List.
Following pilot testing, Version 1.0 of the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas Standard is now available for use in a new Green List development phase. A complementary ‘User Manual’ provides guidance on the process of the Green List. Both are available on the Green List page.