Tuesday, 29 October 2013

IMPAC 3: A message from the young marine conservation professionals

A new light of sunshine radiated the recent International Marine Protected Areas Congress through a broader and more meaningful participation of young people concerned and engaged in marine conservation.

For the first time at an IMPAC  event a group of passionate youth and young professionals from different countries got together at IMPAC 3 to express their view and highlight their priorities about the future of marine conservation. The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas’ (WCPA) Young Professionals Specialist Group organised this extraordinary gathering recognising and facilitating the dynamic synergies that occur when networks of inspired young people work together with each other for social transformation and effective protection and management of the marine environment.
The group acknowledged the important role that Marine Protected Areas play for the conservation of the marine environment while allowing the sustainable use of marine resources and identified a series of priorities for the maintenance of a healthy marine environment.

The first priority identified by the group was the facilitation of leadership by youth through a greater support of young people involvement in marine conservation by encouraging young professionals’ participation in the establishment and management processes and in the science and policy interface of Marine Protected Areas. This priority is complemented by the actual need to enable Young People’ access to knowledge to contribute towards their professional and capacity development considering their lack of accessibility to financial resources.

Increasing public awareness and appreciation about MPAs was identified by the group as another important priority. A broader and effective environmental education campaign involving all stakeholders that should include creative and smart ways to spread the message was suggested as a strategy to effectively achieve behavioural change and ensure a full understanding of MPA functions as one of the best available tool to achieve sustainable development in the marine environment.

Another important priority highlighted by the group was the need to ensure a better collaboration between natural and social sciences by including the social and cultural dimensions in marine conservation and by integrating the local communities’, Traditional Owners’ and stakeholders’ knowledge into marine conservation practices. The need of favouring cross cultural and international collaborations through international accessible platforms to share knowledge, data and best practices and through international cooperation and transnational agreements to tailor global threats was also emphasized by the group.

Last but not least the implementation of Adaptive Management practices and ecosystem-based management approaches and long term funding for MPAs was identified by the group as an important priority in order to ensure that good quality and effectively protected and managed MPAs will be established to achieve the CBD Aichi target percentage of MPAs coverage by 2020. The group also recommend a significant increase in the implementation of IUCN categories I and II to increase the ability of the marine environment to cope with impacts of global threats such as climate change and ocean acidification.

“A New Generation of Marine Conservation” declaration is part of a paper trail of statements produced by young people at various conferences indicating a growing global movement of youth alliances caring for nature and protected areas. The culmination of this ongoing work will be a Young Peoples' Pact for Parks, People, and Planet that will be presented at the World Park Congress in November 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas’ (WCPA) Young Professionals Specialist Group (SG) is a collective forum of youth and young professionals 35 and under of different generations, geographies, and genders associated with protected areas and conservation in diverse capacities, that works to contribute in meaningful ways to the work of WCPA and broader IUCN in valuing and conserving biodiversity, governing nature’s use and sharing its benefits equitably, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges.

Membership of the group is by invitation, on the basis of individual interest and relevant experiences in relation to protected areas as well as a willingness to assist in a voluntary capacity with the work of WCPA in general and the YP Group in particular.

If you wish to become or you are a young professional member of WCPA and want to get active on marine issues, especially for the forthcoming World Parks Congress please contact Mariasole Bianco.