Ocean Mirror: Update on MPA Policy & Practise

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Conservation Standards, Good Environmental Status and Coastal Reef Funding

The ocean covers 71% of the earth’s surface and is home to ecosystems that are both, of high intrinsic value and of high external value: Our oceans deliver services, vital to the health of societies and economies. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 and Aichi Target 11 (CBD) therefore state the need for Marine Protected Areas. To perform they must be effectively governed, managed and networked across borders – but what resources are there to support MPA practitioners in tackling these challenges?

Global Conservation Standards: Synthesis of Global MPA Conservation Standards (IUCN)

Information on effective MPA governance and management has expanded quickly throughout the recent years. Various similar methods, tools, standards are floating through the web and are exchanged in networking events. However favorable a development, a pooling of information remains a major challenge and practitioners agree they want to avoid “open-ended sharing and create real change” – effectively implementing the measures adequate to their MPA.

IUCN Green List Standards

A recent draft publication by IUCN seeks to address this challenge of scattered information:  “Applying IUCN’s Global Conservation Standards to Marine Protected Areas (MPA)” offers a first synthesis of all IUCN standards and policies relevant to Marine Protected Areas, by integrating the IUCN Green List standards with all other IUCN Resolutions and Guidance documents of MPA concern.

By now, the document is still a draft and will be soon available for download here  – also in Spanish and French.

Mediterranean Sea: Achieving Good Environmental Status tapping MPAs’ added value (MedPAN / UNEP-MAP)

MedPAN (Mediterranean Protected Area Network – working to promote the establishment, the operation and the sustainability of a Mediterranean network of MPAs) follows the notion that effective networks and exchange are vital. In a recent “Science for for MPA Management” issue MedPan states: For MPAs to perform beyond their essential role in nature protection, conservation and restoration, more fluent connections between MPA practitioners, scientists and regional as well as national authorities are critical. (See also: MedPAN’s engagement within the Transatlantic MPA Partnership project.)

Transatlantic MPA Network©Bernal Revert, BR&U

MedPAN outlines in particular the crucial role of Marine Protected Areas in achieving and assessing progress made towards Good Environmental Status (GES) of the Mediterranean Sea, by pointing to the MPA ability to provide scientific data enriching the existing knowledge base through monitoring and supporting the establishment of reference conditions.

Good Environmental Status (EU): The environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive.

Further, MedPAN’s newsletter issue offers a compact overview of GES descriptors, the relevant related policies and programs, the role of EU Member States in implementation and finally derives implications for MPA practitioners.

Achieving GES via integrated management strategies is the shared objective defined at both EU and UN levels – defined within the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and integrated in the Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) within the UN Environment Mediterranean Action Plan (UNEP/MAP).

The first Mediterranean Quality Status Report

UNEP / MAP has recently provided its first comprehensive contribution towards “assessing the status of the Mediterranean ecosystem and the progress towards the achievement of its Good Environmental Status (GES)”: In December 2017 the first Mediterranean Quality Status Report has been launched as a key step implementing the “Ecosystem Approach (EcAp) Roadmap” adopted in 2008, and the “Integrated Monitoring and Assessment Programme (IMAP)” adopted in 2016.

Mediterranean quality status report, update on MPA policy

Mediterranean quality status report 2017

International: Funding for Sustainable Management of Coral Reefs & Associated Coastal Ecosystems – UNEP, UNEP WCMC, ICRI

UN Environment, International Coral Reef Initiative and UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre have just published a preliminary analysis, exploring how funding for implementing, monitoring and enforcing sustainable management of coral reefs and related coastal ecosystem has been allocated internationally throughout the recent years.

Where does the funding come from? How is the support distributed? How well-aligned are spending and policy objectives? What are implications for future investment?

Quite evident is, the overall spending dedicated (around 1.9 billion USD between 2010 and 2016) is relatively little when considering that:

coral reef ecosystems alone provide society with living resources and services equating about 375 billion USD annually.

Put in perspective, funding for coral reefs and its related ecosystems is still far from sufficient to achieve international objectives. However, the analysis resumes giving a positive outlook for the allocation of future funding – referring to promising developments in regional and international policy related to marine conservation and pointing to the increased number of international commitments and campaigns related to “ocean matters”.

Read the full analysis results here.

Keep in touch –  there is more news waiting beneath the surface.

After all – it is the International Year of the Reef