The discussions on protected areas emerging here in Nagoya are yielding all sorts of paradoxes, says Deputy Chair of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, Trevor Sandwith.
At one level, there is a real satisfaction that the Programme of Work on Protected Areas has been the single most successful in the Convention on Biological Diversity. It’s also working for biodiversity: the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 has a big green tick-mark next to it on a page that is depressingly covered in red crosses. On the other hand, negotiators are painting a picture of ongoing biodiversity loss, not enough resources, perverse subsidies and emerging threats like climate change that are threatening to undo all of the good work.
On the positive side we have seen the launch of some excellent products by the IUCN family. At the Ecosystems Pavilion, we witnessed the launch of a brand new publication on Ocean Conservation showing the strength of the partnerships that are the hallmark of IUCN. We have better information, we know how well we are doing, we know what to do, and even how to do it…….!
But we can’t resist putting our fears on the table as well. So are we protecting nature for or against, or with people? Do we know enough? How much more needs to be done? Can we mobilize the resources in time?
So let’s switch it around a bit. Yes, we have heard that coral reefs are bleaching, invasive alien species are invading precious grasslands, people are talking past one another, the lack of agreement on financing threatens to derail the negotiations…
But ProtectedPlanet offers us a remarkable way of engaging the world out there in the amazing world of protected areas, indigenous peoples and local communities are demonstrating a centuries-old process of managing their territories for conservation, the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Study (TEEB) flags protected areas as cheap at the price for sustaining human well-being.
So instead of throwing ourselves on our swords (actually the sign at security bans swords, ice picks and the like in this venue!), let’s get out there and celebrate our successes! As someone said at one of our side events: “We need to get more OK with this!”