A voice from the 5th International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC5), co-hosted by IUCN
IMPAC5 has provided a unique opportunity for the global ocean community to convene and transform the Kunming-Montreal Framework from bold ambition to action, with youth and indigenous voices front and centre.
As IMPAC5 closed, IUCN expressed its gratitude to the Host First Nations — Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú), and the Tsleil-waututh (səlilwətaɬ) — the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, Parks Canada, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society for generously hosting this event. Gratitude was also extended to the 3900 participants from 123 countries who joined us in Vancouver and actively contributed to advancing the ocean conservation agenda post-CBD COP 15 and the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Over five days, practitioners, scientists, indigenous people, policy makers, funders, and more have come together to exchange knowledge, best practices and innovative ideas to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. IUCN notably applauded the active engagement and key contributions of youth leaders voicing their concerns against deep seabed mining in the streets and in sessions alike. Indigenous leaders were clearly heard as they expressed the need to include traditional knowledge in the design, planning, and implementation of marine protection and conservation measures. IUCN is poised to support the inclusion of these voices in future dialogues, as only with them will we meet the world’s ambitious ocean targets.
Target 3 of the Kunming-Montreal Framework has been the beacon of this convening, and remains a guide for the ocean community. It reads:
“Ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial, inland water,and of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable,and integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring that any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities including over their traditional territories.”
This Congress provided leaders in governments, multilateral development agencies, the private sector, civil society, and future generations with a major opportunity to understand and implement marine Nature-based Solutions to support conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of marine and coastal ecosystems in an equitable, inclusive and empowering manner.
Clearly, fulfilling this common ambition requires unlocking innovative finance solutions to close the significant conservation funding gap. This will only be possible through embracing collaboration across all stakeholders, especially including industry and the private sector. Whilst recognising the road ahead, and the need to provide necessary safeguards to ensure equitable and positive impacts, this Congress has provided a unique platform to catalyse and accelerate a true shift. It was pleasing to note that this is in line with the call for action made at IMPAC4 and shows continuation of those essential discussions.
As IMPAC5 concludes, we now turn our attention to the upcoming negotiations on the international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), scheduled to open on the 20 February in New York. The high seas are two thirds of the global ocean, and IUCN welcomes the outcomes of several sessions of IMPAC5 which focused on the need to establish Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs) in the high seas which will be key in reaching the 30x30 target.
Important announcement in support of marine and coastal nature-based solutions
High-level discussions at IMPAC5 showed growing momentum for marine Nature-based Solutions and a high level of political will for their implementation.
Of particular note, a prominent funding announcement was made. The Government of Canada announced the first major financial contribution of 30M CAD to protect and restore ocean ecosystems in developing countries, including the Western Indian Ocean. This includes the IUCN Great Blue Wall initiative, which involves Nature-based Solutions for adaptation, an important aspect of which is marine protected areas in the Western Indian Ocean.
Canada, which boasts the longest coastline in the world, also announced it was working with Indigenous Peoples to protect 25% of its land and oceans by 2025 and at least 30 per cent by 2030.
At the end of the event, the Canada co-chairs of IMPAC5 released a closing statement to thank all those involved, to emphasize what was learned, and to underline necessary priorities and actions to be taken between now and IMPAC6.
Message of hope
IMPAC5 has provided yet another wake-up call regarding the reality faced by many local communities around the world currently suffering and adapting to climate change. Through this Congress, we have learned and witnessed the extraordinary resilience, and innovation grounded in local and traditional knowledge.
IUCN committed to continue to address the many conservation and climate challenges in order to achieve our ambitious targets. This commitment includes working with Indigenous communities through our Union, and with the Member States, private sector partners, and civil society to restore, protect, and conserve coastal and marine ecosystems.
FInally, IUCN is looking forward to working with Senegal, the newly announced host nation for IMPAC6. We are confident that between then and now the commitments from this IMPAC5 will have been made into actions by all nations to protect the Ocean.
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