Specialist Group Leader
Governance of protected and conserved areas is now clearly understood as a main element in the legal, policy, institutional and practical framework of conservation around the world. No longer a novelty, the concept and its application remain however a challenge for most countries and agencies. Fortunately, in line with the vision of the promise of Sydney, countries are committed to foster governance diversity, equity and vitality for their systems of protected and conserved areas, and to strengthen their relevant policies, practices and capacities. Technical tools such as the IUCN/WCPA Best Practice Guidelines on Governance of Protected Areas and the Primer on Governance for Protected and Conserved Areas are also available to offer guidance. Networks of experienced and concerned professionals were created in the occasion of the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney (WPC 2014). And the Governance Stream at WPC 2014 has provided a set of three strategic directions and twenty recommendations to clearly outline the needed work ahead.
The World Commission on Protected Areas has now an unique opportunity to strengthen its leadership role in governance of protected and conserved areas by fostering, coordinating and actively and coherently engaging in a set of initiatives to take such strategic directions and recommendations to practice.
The WCPA Specialist Group on governance of protected and conserved areas builds upon the expertise and contributions of WCPA members and other relevant experts and practitioners. The Group fosters, coordinates and actively and coherently engages its members in initiatives that take to practice the strategic directions and recommendations that emerged from the Governance Stream at WPC 2014.
The Specialist Group directly addresses the Effective and Equitable Governance of Nature’s Use programme area of the IUCN’s Quadrennial Programme 2013-2106, but also refers substantively to the other two programmatic areas: 1) Conserving and valuing biodiversity and 2) Deploying nature-based solutions to climate, food, and development. Significantly, it makes clear and direct contributions to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2010-2020 and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
Objectives and Activities
1. Promote enhanced awareness and understanding, better informed policies and improved practices on governance of protected and conserved areas
- Engage in processes of governance inquiry, assessment, evaluation and action in as many countries as possible, with a view to improving governance standards and guidance, and developing stronger and more supportive legal and policy frameworks, including better integration of customary law at all levels.
- Promote and support a variety of conservation partnerships among governments and civil society, focusing on exemplary Transboundary Conservation Areas, migratory species and marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.
- Promote the recognition and support of voluntary preservation, sustainable use, restoration and enrichment practices of indigenous peoples, local communities, landowners and other actors for both protected and conserved areas, with specific attention to the overlaps between protected and conserved areas.
- Develop further guidance on quality of governance with specific reference to equity and effectiveness standards and their integration in the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas
- Develop guidance on vitality of governance with specific reference to indicators and assessment processes and their integration in the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas
2. Strengthen the implementation of existing policies and agreements relevant for governance for the conservation of nature
- Assist governments, conservation agencies, NGOs, indigenous peoples, local communities and landowners to identify, gather, analyse and report governance data for protected and conserved areas to feed into UNEP WCMC databases and PoWPA’s and other reports to the CBD, including for Transboundary Conservation Areas, privately protected and conserved areas, and ICCAs.
- Review and draw lessons from, on regional and/or national bases as appropriate, the commitments, implementation and enforcement of governance-relevant binding agreements in conservation (e.g., the Aarhus Convention, national provisions to implement CBD’s PoWPA, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, initiatives to achieve all Aichi Targets by 2020, etc.).
- Assist the CBD Secretariat and relevant partners to develop guidance on assessing the “equitable management” dimension of Aichi Target 11 and on recognizing and monitoring conserved areas (“other effective area-based conservation measures”).
- Strengthen governance capacities via regional learning networks that focus, as appropriate, on policy implementation, enhanced practices and/or stopping transnational wildlife crime and patterns of unsustainable exploitation of natural resources
- Support willing countries and relevant organisations to explore innovative legal frameworks and tools to promote equity, conflict resolution and the respect of procedural and substantive rights in conservation, and to redress conservation-related injustices that have occurred in the past.
3. Highlight, support and diffuse models of well-governed protected and conserved areas that exemplify sustainable, equitable and satisfying local economies and societies
- Identify, review, analyse and draw lessons and inspiration from a number of cases where well-governed protected and conserved areas deliver ecological success and sustainability-- from the local level (e.g., a village forest) to the national level (e.g., fisheries in a marine economic exclusive zone), from the regional level (e.g., migratory wildlife) to the global level (e.g., the atmosphere and climate).
- Identify, review, analyse and draw lessons and inspiration from a number of cases where well-governed protected and conserved area deliver food and water sovereignty and human development.
- Develop and apply a communications strategy to promote the lessons learned in well-governed protected and conserved areas that exemplify sustainable, equitable and satisfying local economies and societies, including through platforms such as the Panorama: Inspiring PA Solutions .