The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) continued on Wednesday, 10 October, with participants discussing the theme “Natural Solutions: Protected Areas (PAs) Meeting Biodiversity Targets and Adapting to Global Change.” The day consisted of four panel sessions on: working towards the Aichi Targets - how PAs contribute; PAs as natural solutions to climate change and other global challenges; PAs for marine conservation, blue carbon and sustainable fisheries; and opportunities for mainstreaming PAs into policies and programmes. The day concluded with a CBD LifeWeb Initiative cocktail event opened by CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias.
WORKING TOWARDS THE AICHI TARGETS: HOW PAS CONTRIBUTE
Panel Moderator Kathy MacKinnon, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), introduced the session. Sarat Babu Gidda, CBD Secretariat, provided a brief overview of the history of PAs. As a landmark, he highlighted the agreement by 180 countries to a binding programme on PAs at the 7th CBD Conference of the Parties (COP), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2004. He concluded stressing the need to transform CBD COP 11 decisions into concrete action on the ground and emphasized that national plans of action should inform budget decisions.
Charles Besançon, CBD Secretariat, explained CBD’s role in convening donor roundtables, allowing governments to present their proposals for meeting biodiversity targets to donor agencies. He described how the LifeWeb Initiative’s clearinghouse mechanism has already facilitated the allocation of EUR 200 million from donors to PA projects. Looking forward, Besançon underscored the need to broaden and strengthen donor support and develop strategic partnerships with business and foundations.
Colleen Corrigan, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, presented “The Protected Planet Report 2012,” which tracks progress and trends towards the Aichi Targets and assesses improvements in management and governance. Among the key findings, Corrigan emphasized that on the terrestrial side only 12.7% of the 17% PA coverage target has been met, and on the marine side only 4% of the 10% PA coverage target has been achieved. She commended the recent change in share of governance mechanism type, with 13.5% of PAs under co-management and nearly 10% governed by indigenous and local community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs).
Stephen Woodley, IUCN, provided an overview of progress on the IUCN global standard on areas of significance for biodiversity conservation. He said the fundamental question to understand is why, despite the increase of PAs, there are still high rates of biodiversity loss. Woodley encouraged further research and contributions to the establishment of a global database, being built in partnership with the LifeWeb Initiative.
Bas Verschuuren, IUCN, presented on sacred natural sites and their contribution to the Aichi Targets. He defined sacred natural sites as “areas of land or water having special spiritual significance to peoples and communities,” and showcased how the inclusion of sacredness into conservation debates improves not only ecosystem services but also social resilience. He concluded drawing attention to the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative.
Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh and ICCAs Consortium, explained how ICCAs are effectively working towards meeting various Aichi Targets. While commending the IUCN for officially including ICCAs as a PA governance type, he also stressed massive gaps in this recognition. He stated that most ICCAs are not yet identified or documented, and face threats by forces of “development, commercialization and cultural change.” He suggested three ways for governments to legally recognize ICCAs: as part as their PA system; as part of other conservation systems, such as biodiversity law; and land reform legislation.
Piero Genovesi, IUCN, noted the rapidly growing threat of invasive species to native species, food security, water access and human health. In regards to the threat to PAs, he underscored several challenges including lack of funding, and insufficient legal and institutional support. Genovesi said that working together is necessary to meeting Aichi Target 9 (invasive alien species prevented and controlled) and highlighted the “best practice book.” He argued that prevention is the most important measure to combat invasive species.
PAS AS NATURAL SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND OTHER GLOBAL CHALLENGES
Moderator Charles Besançon, CBD Secretariat, introduced the session. Kathy MacKinnon, WCPA, presented on PAs as natural mitigation and adaptation solutions, helping people cope with climate change and desertification. Looking ahead, she stressed the need to: protect more and larger areas; improve governance; and restore degraded habitats within and around PAs. MacKinnon estimated restoration costs to be “as little as US$ 23 billion per year.”
Nic Bax, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia, discussed the implications of climate change for biodiversity conservation in Australia. Using long-term scenarios developed by statistical models, he outlined recommendations including: reassessing biodiversity objectives; creating management strategies to deal with robust uncertainty; planning for biodiversity change at landscape scales; expanding PA networks to accommodate significant ecological changes; managing interactions between biodiversity and changing land and water use; and adapting biodiversity conservation institutions to cope with new challenges.
Pramod Krishnan, UNDP, discussed PA governance in India, noting the impacts of climate change on India’s ecosystems, which comprise four biodiversity hotspots, ten bio-geographic zones and 256 forest types. Krishnan noted institutional, knowledge and community challenges to India’s PA governance, and called for applying IUCN classification of PAs to India’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. He discussed impacts of climate change on India’s ecosystem functionality, including: shifts in ecosystem types; proliferation of invasive species; coral bleaching; habitat fragmentation; and increasing man-animal conflicts.
Julia Miranda Londoño, Director, National Parks System, Colombia, emphasized the main actions to protect natural parks in Colombia, noting that the Colombian Constitution recognizes the right of indigenous people to use natural resources. She reported improvement in monitoring systems and ecosystem restoration, and concluded announcing that more funding is being allocated to deal with natural disasters.
Rob Prosper, Parks Canada, said the real power behind PAs is the public conservation ethic and discussed the Parks Canada vision to connect hearts and minds to a stronger understanding of the essence of Canada. He emphasized cooperation and joint management with indigenous communities. Prosper highlighted North American collaboration on climate change, identifying six roles of PAs and wilderness in addressing climate change: conserving biodiversity; protecting ecosystem services; connecting landscapes; capturing and storing carbon; building knowledge; and inspiring people.
Bruce Jefferies, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), reported on a study in Upland Central Savaii, the largest island of Samoa, that aims to: enhance local biodiversity; survey fauna and flora; and deliver the synthesized information to local communities. Jefferies also announced the 9th Pacific Island Conference on Nature Conservation and PAs will convene in November 2013.
During discussions, participants questioned how PAs can best deliver and how to improve the connection between low-level management and high-level policymaking. Panelists agreed that the involvement of local communities is fundamental to address both issues.
PAS FOR MARINE CONSERVATION, BLUE CARBON AND SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES
Panel Moderator Kristina Gjerde, IUCN, introduced the session. Carel Drijver, WWF Netherlands, stated that healthy oceans are central to guaranteeing livelihoods for half of the world’s population. He noted the case of Bonaire National Marine Park, in the Netherland Antilles, as an example of the importance of marine protected areas (MPAs) and emphasized “participatory stakeholder approaches” to marine conservation.
Olivier Hasinger and Dorothee Herr, IUCN, highlighted coastal blue carbon and MPAs as an opportunity to mitigate climate change. Hasinger drew attention to the distribution of carbon in coastal ecosystems, especially in soil and sediment as large storage of carbon per soil unit area and the role of living biomass to maintain sequestration function. He highlighted the carbon sequestration rates of these ecosystems as 40 times greater than that of mature tropical forests. He noted high loss rates of tidal marshes, mangroves and sea grass wetlands.
Cliff Marlessy, Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) Indonesia Network, noted the LMMA project supports coastal communities to manage coastal resources. He identified a number of issues addressed by LMMA, including decreasing numbers and species of fish. He noted that benefits encourage local community participation and highlighted that, when communities collect their own data, they understand these benefits much more clearly.
Nenenteiti Teariki-Ruatu, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development, Kiribati, emphasized the benefits of large-scale MPAs. She discussed the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) project in Kiribati, which serves as a model for the Pacific region and other small island developing states, recognizing the need to protect areas with lower species diversity that have high ecosystem robustness. She illustrated PIPA’s ecological and biological uniqueness and highlighted the problem of overfishing and invasive species.
Patrick Halpin, Duke University, provided an overview of the CBD process for describing ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs). After highlighting the evolution of this process, he noted that EBSAs are not MPAs, but a global inventory informed by multiple criteria developed from biogeographic, biological and physical data. He noted the role of CBD in providing capacity building through regional workshops, and the contributions of the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative in supporting the EBSA inventory.
Jorge Jimenez, MarViva Foundation, discussed scientific findings from studies in the thermal dome of the Eastern Pacific where the North Equatorial Current meets the Equatorial Counter Current. He emphasized the dome’s distinctive habitat, including dolphins, migrating leatherback turtles and blue whales, noting protecting the area conserves endangered species. He underscored management challenges such as the size of the area, which includes high seas and economic exclusive zones of five countries.
During discussions, panelists acknowledged that progress protecting and conserving critical areas requires a common understanding on the interactions between terrestrial PAs and MPAs. Participants also agreed that success depends on strong commitment by, as well as an understanding of what MPAs mean to, local communities. Panelists also considered the need for an international legal framework to close loopholes in extra-territorial areas beyond national jurisdictions and addressed the free rider problems associated with over-fishing.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MAINSTREAMING PAS INTO POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES
Purifacio Canals, Network of Managers of MPAs in the Mediterranean (MedPAN), discussed key tasks for improving MPA management in the Mediterranean, including: creating new coastal and open sea MPAs; improving ecological coherence of MPAs; demonstrating benefits of MPAs to all stakeholders; and improving governance and management effectiveness. She explained how MedPAN facilitates exchanges between MPA managers and provides support to them by employing strategies for science, communication, capacity building and sustainable funding.
Russell Mittermeier, President, CI, reported on initiatives scaling up PAs, such as the Big Ocean Network and Global Partnership for Oceans. He noted that, unlike other sectors, biodiversity conservation occurs at the local level, which increases the importance of local communities. Underscoring the need for continuous funding mechanisms, Mittermeier highlighted the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund as an important initiative, saying that already US$ 142 million dollars were granted. He concluded emphasizing PAs are the most efficient tool to combat biodiversity loss.
Nik Sekhran, UNDP, discussed PAs and climate change adaptation in Namibia. Noting Namibia’s climate change vulnerability, Sekhran demonstrated the negative impacts of predicted rainfall patterns on livelihoods, wildlife, and agriculture and livestock, which in turn will affect the country’s foreign exchange revenues. He noted PAs are a good option for climate change adaptation, as income generated by PAs in the tourism sector contribute to development. He recommended moving towards a landscape approach, which would require management agreements among local governments to allow better connection between PAs.
Jamison Ervin, UNDP, provided a comprehensive overview of the costs to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (PAs increased and improved) stating that US$ 130 billion are needed to protect terrestrial biodiversity and US$ 5 billion for marine biodiversity. She underscored that, despite high costs to achieve the target, the benefits for society are much higher. Ervin highlighted that valuation and monitoring mechanisms are key to addressing potential financial gaps.
Alexander Belokurov, WWF International, presented the Global Initiative for PAs and Climate Change Adaptation funded by the European Union, with project locations in Madagascar, Columbia, and the Philippines. Seeking to arrive at scientifically sound and practical recommendations useful to a variety of stakeholders, he noted the project engages in: biological and vulnerability assessment under different climate scenarios; development of PA adaptation measures and a system to prioritize measures; and communication of these measures to local communities.
MacKinnon, presented on behalf of Trevor Sandwith, IUCN, noting a fundamental challenge for PAs is how to deal with conflicting interests among stakeholders. She emphasized the importance of the upcoming IUCN World Parks Congress, to be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2014.
In response to questions, Ervin noted that costs of MPAs are lower as they do not involve land acquisition. Panelists stressed further showcasing the financial benefits of PAs.