Sendai, Japan is set to host the Asia Parks Congress (APC) from November 13 to November 17, 2013 – the first meeting of its kind to be held in the region. The Congress is being organized by the Ministry of the Environment-Japan (MoEJ) and IUCN. The theme “Parks Connect” signifies protected areas connections at many different levels, linking people with nature, people with people and protected areas with pressing world challenges, including disaster risk reduction, climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainable development and livelihoods.
Happening one year before the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, the APC will serve as a valuable lead-in to the Sydney gathering, taking stock of protected area progress in the world’s fastest developing region, and providing lessons learned and ways forward in connecting protected areas with conservation practitioners and other stakeholders, such as government, NGOs and local communities. “We have wanted to make this happen for long time, and are thrilled to prepare this historical event,” said Dr. Yoshitaka Kumagai, Chair of the APC Steering Committee, and WCPA Vice-Chair for East Asia.
The APC location adds pressing significance to the gathering: parts of Sendai and its surroundings were devastated by the 2011 Northern Japan earthquake and tsunami. Protected areas as natural solutions for disaster risk reduction will therefore serve as one of the Congress’ six major work streams. Sanriku Reconstruction Park, a new protected area planned for the coastal areas in the tsunami zone outside Sendai, will be introduced during the Congress. Other work streams include: tourism and environmental education in PAs; culture/traditions and PAs; collaborative management of PAs; international collaboration for PAs; and biodiversity and PAs.
The Congress will also break ground through launching a number of important initiatives. It will introduce the Asian Protected Areas Philosophy, which will highlight the region’s unique approach to conservation and act as a catalyst for cooperation, improved governance, and integration of conservation and human development. The first regional version of the Protected Planet Report, the Protected Planet-Asia Report will be presented, informing the second edition of the global report, due out at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia. In addition, the CATS (Conservation Assured, Tiger Standards) programme for management excellence in protected areas with tiger populations will be officially launched. CATS is participating in the piloting process of the IUCN Green List of Well Managed Protected Areas, which will also officially launch in Sydney.
Calls for presentation proposals for the working groups in each work stream will be released soon. For more information on the 2013 Asia Parks Congress, please visit: http://asia-parks.org/wordpress/program