With the world’s biodiversity in steep decline and thousands of species threatened with extinction, the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) agreed last December a set of goals and targets to address the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems. Target 3 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) aims to effectively conserve 30% of terrestrial, inland water, coastal, and marine areas through protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2030.

The ocean provides over 90% of the living space for species on the planet and is a critical source of food and livelihoods to billions of people around the world. It generates oxygen, contributes to climate resilience, and helps address hunger and poverty.

The world’s leading ocean conservation professionals and high-level officials will meet in Vancouver, Canada, from 3-9 February 2023, to chart a course towards protecting 30% of the global ocean by 2030. Today, an estimated 7.65% of the ocean is covered by marine protected areas (MPAs).

The fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) will seek to develop a collaborative approach to ocean conservation and sustainability that includes Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, communities, leaders, and nations, “to reshape our understanding of, and relationships with, nature.” To contribute to a healthy blue planet for future generations, participants will aim to “re-think our policies, economies, priorities, and processes in ways that reflect the … role nature plays in our … health, equity, well-being and economic sustainability.”

The IMPAC5 programme highlights MPAs, other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs), and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs), among other designations, as “some of the most effective tools for protecting and restoring ocean health.” These areas, it notes, create ecological, social, and economic benefits by protecting and restoring biodiversity, building resilience to climate change impacts, supporting the ecological sustainability of fisheries and increasing fish biomass, and boosting coastal communities’ local economies.  

IMPAC5 will provide a forum to exchange knowledge, successes, and best practices around five themes:

  • Building a global MPA network;
  • Advancing conservation in the blue economy;
  • Actively managing MPAs and human activity;
  • Conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis; and
  • Connecting ocean, culture, and human well-being.

Three cross-cutting streams will inform the discussions through Indigenous Peoples’ Leadership, the Voice of Young Professionals, and Innovation and Transformational Change.

The fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) will build on the post-2020 GBF and draw on the findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the commitments made by countries at the G20 Leaders’ Summit, in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.

The Congress will feature side events, field trips, booths and pavilions, and an Ocean Festival, and will culminate in a one-day Leadership Forum.

IMPAC5 is jointly hosted by the Host First Nations – xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh Nation) – together with the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Congress is organized with support from partners and sponsors, including the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Government of Australia, and the Blue Nature Alliance.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) is providing daily coverage of the event. [IMPAC5 Website]