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International Congress on Marine Protected Areas Calls for Law of Sea Negotiations on Conservation

impac27 October 2013: Participants at the Third International Congress on Marine Protected Areas (IMPAC3) discussed strategies to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Aichi Target 11 under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which calls for at least 10 per cent of all coastal and marine areas to be managed as conservation or protected areas by the year 2020. The Congress met in Marseille, France from 21-25 October 2013, followed by a high-level political meeting in Corsica from 26-27 October.

In a statement delivered to the Congress, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary, underscored the need to not only expand the number of protected areas, but also to advance “ways and means to address important qualitative elements of Target 11, including ecosystem services, ecological representativeness, effective and equitable management, well-connected systems, and integration into the wider landscape and seascape.” To these ends, he noted a number of activities of the CBD, inter alia, the updating of national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs), the Sustainable Oceans Initiative, and the LifeWeb Initiative.

The Ministerial portion of the event gathered ministers from 19 countries representing the world's oceans to discuss: benefits and urgency of conserving the oceans; the promotion of the regional scale as the appropriate framework for effective action; and international initiatives needed to protect the high seas. The resulting Ajaccio Ministerial message emphasizes the need for conservation and sustainable management, and calls on the international community to adopt the decision of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to allow, by 2014, "the launch of negotiations on an implementing agreement of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for the conservation and sustainable management of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions (ABNJs)."

During the Congress, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-International co-chaired a workshop on how sustainable finance mechanisms could help meet Aichi Target 11. The workshop explored the strengths and weaknesses of both conventional and innovative finance mechanisms, such as government funding, conservation trust funds, and crowd-sourcing platforms. Other topics covered at the Congress included: tools for the management and enforcement of marine protected areas; ecosystem service assessment and valuation; regional approaches; and stakeholder involvement.

Every four years, IMPAC convenes representatives from public management and planning agencies, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, coastal and island communities, and the private sector from around the world to assist in the conservation and sustainable development of the oceans. [GEF Press Release] [CBD Executive Secretary Statement] [Third IMPAC Website]