Pacific Islands Showcase Marine Conservation Efforts at World Parks Congress
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Participants discussed threats to Pacific ecosystems and species, showcased efforts to conserve and manage biodiversity through marine protected areas (MPAs) and agreed on collaborative action during a series of Pacific-focused events that took place at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World Parks Congress.

SPREP19 November 2014: Participants discussed threats to Pacific ecosystems and species, showcased efforts to conserve and manage biodiversity through marine protected areas (MPAs) and agreed on collaborative action during a series of Pacific-focused events that took place at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Parks Congress.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) launched a regional report, titled ‘The State of Conservation in Oceania Report (SOCO)’ at the Pacific Islands Dialogue at the World Parks Congress. The assessment highlights negative trends in ecosystems and species, including the loss of 7.3% of the region’s forests between 1990 and 2010 and poor protected area (PA) coverage and poor species inclusion in PAs. The report finds that 1,774 species in Oceania are listed on IUCN’s Red List, with populations ranging from near threatened to extinct in the wild. The assessment recommends additional efforts on 824 species that are classified as data deficient.

Conservation governance in the region is improving, according to the report. Still, it notes implementation of legislation and policy instruments, such as National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), remains poor. The report is expected to guide regional and national conservation and management action, including on achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

In this context, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and SPREP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Congress to promote joint implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020, its Aichi Targets and the Pacific Framework for Nature Conservation and PAs. Through the MoU, the CBD Secretariat and SPREP will collaborate to: increase cooperation on scientific and technical areas; increase capacity on finance and monitoring; review biodiversity strategies and action plans; and align global, regional, national and local agendas with the Aichi Targets.

At the Congress’s Oceans+ Pavilion, leaders from Pacific French island territories shared their experiences in addressing marine conservation and showcased the Pacific’s range of marine sanctuaries, which include locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) and large MPAs. Pacific islands are “large ocean countries” that collectively represent “the biggest ocean marine park,” explained French Polynesia’s Minister for Environment and Culture, Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu. He said French Polynesia hosts the region’s biggest mammal and shark sanctuary and plans to expand it to seven million square kilometers. He also highlighted the intergenerational nature of French Polynesia’s conservation efforts, describing how children have also initiated conservation efforts in the territory.

Finally, Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna, Palau’s President, Tommy Remengesau, and Kiribati’s President, Anote Tong, shared their motivation in making conservation commitments during an informal dialogue, hosted by SPREP and the IUCN Oceania Regional Office. Puna and Remengesau both noted that their countries receive greater revenue from tourism than from fishing, which contributed to their decisions to create MPAs. Remengesau said, for example, that Palau only receives six percent of the revenue from its fishing industry. He further explained that Palau had restricted commercial fishing in its entire 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to address ocean resource depletion, equitable resource sharing and food security. Tong said his country’s Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA) will contribute to long-term ocean sustainability.

The World Parks Congress convened from 12-19 November 2014 in Sydney, Australia. [SPREP Press Release on SOCO] [SPREP Press Release on Informal Dialogue] [SPREP Press Release on Oceans+ Pavilion Event] [SPREP Press Release on MoU] [IISD RS Coverage of World Parks Congress]


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