Protected and Conserved Areas Joint Statement on Climate Change and Biodiversity Crises at COP26

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The climate and biodiversity crisis are two sides of the same coin, and future generations are paying the price. It is our Parks and Protected Areas that hold the solutions to these challenges. This is why EUROPARC has signed a joint statement at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) taking place in Glasgow, UK.

The COP26 is a crucial event in the battle to save our planet. As the climate and biodiversity crises become more urgent, the EUROPARC Federation and other leading organisations in charge of some of the largest tracts of Protected Landscapes and Marine Environments across the world have come together for the first time to call on world leaders to support their work at the vanguard of the fight against Climate Change and Biodiversity loss. Orchestrated by National Parks UK, as host nation for COP26, the statement has been signed by, amongst others, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)/ World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), US National Parks Service and Parks and Wildlife Finland.

James Stuart, Convener of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park and architect of the statement commented:

In the fight against biodiversity loss and climate emergency, if we fail here, we will fail everywhere. We’re star players, don’t leave us on the bench.

The statement was launched at COP26 as part of the Youth and Public Empowerment Day. This event, organized by the UK Government, presented youth and community led nature-based solutions and it culminated with a signing of the document. Catriona Manders, Youth Committee & Junior Ranger, at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs opened and signed the statement on behalf of the future generations.

Read the statement here:

Protected and Conserved Areas Joint Statement on Climate Change and Biodiversity Crises

Protected Areas hold the solutions

“The Parks and Protected Areas of Europe stand united for nature alongside our colleagues across the world. Our natural heritage holds the key to solving the challenges presented by the climate and biodiversity crises.

We need Parks, their staff, their communities, partners and stakeholders and importantly our “army” of Junior Rangers to make the transfer from words to actions.

We call on global leaders to invest in the natural solutions that Protected Areas can deliver.

Only then will new ideas, thinking and approaches emerge that will enable us to create a better future.”

States EUROPARC’s Executive Director Carol Ritchie.

What does this mean for Protected Areas?

When battling climate change and biodiversity loss, Parks and Protected Areas, and the organisations that protect them, need to take on a central role. The statement reads: ‘Protected and Conserved Areas need to be brought into the centre of the work to resolve the climate change and biodiversity loss crises. Protected and Conserved Areas’ capabilities should be leveraged to direct transformative levels of investment in nature-based solutions; and their connections and importance to cultures, communities and visitors should be harnessed to unlock and demonstrate the opportunities for vast behavioural change.

Protected Areas across the world are well placed to support, and even lead on, the green ambitions of global leaders. The statement underlines that National Parks and Protected Areas are the very first places where the connection with nature begins, hence we need to begin from them to find solutions to the biodiversity and climate crises affecting our planet. To do this, the signing parties call for not only designation and protection, but also conservation and restoration of nature, along with investment, recognition and inclusion in decision making.

The statement clearly articulates the role of Protected Areas to accelerate the positive impact of their collective work. Specifically, a commitment to:

“Focus on aspects of our work that drive scale of impact and benefit, including:

  • Collaborate and exchange knowledge internationally,
  • Lever and build our connections with billions of people (visitors and supporters) and communities to inspire behavioural change,
  • Support a global movement for the deployment and implementation of nature-based solutions at scale, and
  • Inspire and enable those working outside the protected landscapes by linking with initiatives outside our boundaries and sharing our experiences.’

If we are to win the battle against climate change and biodiversity loss, we must first win it in these Protected and Conserved Areas.

Show your support!

EUROPARC has long believed in the central role Protected Areas need to take on to address the different challenges our society faces. As the largest network of Protected Areas across Europe, we aim to support and celebrate the work of our members. Now, we ask you to join us as we call upon world leaders to #UniteForNature. “Make some noise” and use #UniteForNature across social media to show your support of this statement.

Founding signatories to the statement include:

  • Bureau of Land Management (USA)
  • Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas
  • European Ranger Federation
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
  • Israel Nature and Parks Authority
  • Korea National Park Service
  • The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA)
  • National Park Service (USA)
  • National Parks UK
  • Nature Conservation Agency of the Czech Republic
  • NatureScot
  • New South Wales National Parks & Wildlife Service
  • Nigeria National Park Service
  • Parks and Wildlife Finland
  • Parks Australia
  • Parks Canada
  • Sabah Parks
  • Quebec-Labrador Foundation/Atlantic Center for the Environment
  • South African National Parks
  • US Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Forest Service
  • World Urban Parks