Day three and, after the break-neck speed of proceedings for the first couple of days, where we ended up a whole day ahead of schedule, things have dramatically slowed down. We are now into the arduous process of delegates thrashing out the minutiae of the programmes of work under review word by word, bracket by bracket, writes Zoe Wilkinson, IUCN Protected Area Programme officer.
I’m here along with Tim Badman, Head of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, and Nikita Lopoukhine, Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, as part of the IUCN delegation specifically focused on the Convention’s ‘Programme of Work of Protected Areas’. This is my first opportunity to attend a United Nations Convention Meeting and, after hearing the reports from Copenhagen of the protracted negotiations that resulted in non-binding treaties, I was both slightly daunted and curious to experience this kind of meeting.
For protected areas practitioners such as myself, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the most relevant of the UN Conventions owing to its ‘Programme of Work on Protected Areas’ (POWPA). This Programme was adopted by the Convention in 2004. With a long list of achievements to date, it is widely recognized as one of the most successful of the CBD’s 7 programmes of work and one that IUCN’s Protected Area Programme and the World Commission on Protected Areas as well as IUCN Members have a strong ongoing involvement in.
And so what is our contribution to this meeting? The IUCN Protected Areas Programme and the World Commission on Protected Areas have, over the last year, been preparing a formal review of the Convention’s Programme, including recommendations to strengthen it.
It was therefore satisfying to hear general appreciation expressed for the quality of this review through plenary intervention statements from over 40 parties during the session on Tuesday. Recurring themes of these interventions were the need for sustainable finance for implementation and a much stronger focus on governance, participation, equity and benefit sharing. There was also a strong recognition of the urgent need to address the poor record of designation of marine protected areas, both within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction. Additionally numerous parties raised ecological restoration and connectivity of protected areas in the wider land and seascape as new priorities as a result of increasing climate change pressure.
These latter matters have been recognised before, resulting in a previous request by the Convention’s Secretariat for IUCN and the World Commission on Protected Areas to develop technical guidance relating to them. The Commission’s Chair Nik Lopoukhine reassured the plenary that good progress was being made on these issues during his intervention statement for IUCN.
Interestingly, as yet, there has been little debate on how the Programme could contribute to the achievement of a new post-2010 CBD Strategic Plan. IUCN is proposing a global target for Protected Area coverage of 15%. The new post-2010 CBD Strategic Plan will be debated next week.
I’ve now just heard that the intersessional paper on the Programme has just been made available so now it’s time for me to prepare for a full day of discussions on this tomorrow.