Ocean Action Hub

This MPA Outlook reviews the commitment by governments to achieve 10 percent protection of important marine and coastal areas through effectively and equitably managed MPAs and other effective area-based management measures (Aichi Target 11 and SDG 14). The review takes into account the formulation of the CBD’s post 2020 biodiversity framework, that proposes, among other goals a zero net biodiversity loss by 2030, as well as providing a baseline for the post 2020 framework.

The declaration of marine protected areas (MPAs), has long been considered a key tool in the fight to conserve the world’s marine biodiversity, and the WIO countries have played their part, by identifying and declaring MPAs; from Tsitsikamma, the first MPA in Africa, proclaimed by the Government of the Republic of South Africa in 1964, to the MPAs proclaimed in 2019 by the Governments of Seychelles and the Republic of South Africa, and those proposed for imminent declaration by the government of Comoros. It is also evidently clear that the mere proclamation of an MPA is no guarantee of effective protection. An assessment on MPA management effectiveness showed that many MPAs in the region lack human resources, skills, equipment, and institutional commitment to fulfil their functions adequately. The assessment also revealed serious declines in conservation funding. The COVID-19 pandemic led many countries to adopt lockdown measures, affecting tourism revenues on which many MPAs in the WIO depend to finance MPA operations. Marine conservation in the WIO region needs a post-COVID recovery plan and marine conservation efforts must now be funded not only at the level that they were at before the pandemic but at an even higher amount that reflects the severity of the unprecedented threats to biodiversity and associated economic sectors.

At a transnational scale, the moves to initiate transboundary MPAs, such as between Kenya and mainland Tanzania, and Mozambique and South Africa, must be lauded and supported. Coastal states are also taking a large-scale approach to marine conservation, often within “Blue Economy” initiatives such as the Blue Economy Roadmap developed by the Government of Seychelles and Operation Phakisa in South Africa. In both cases, these initiatives have involved thorough and complex marine spatial planning processes, identifying areas suitable for different uses and activities, including for conservation.

To achieve its prime purpose of assessing progress towards meeting the SDG and Aichi targets, this MPA Outlook set out to document and celebrate the achievements up to 2020 in the establishment of MPAs, or equivalent levels of protection, across the WIO region. It also documents the exciting move towards more community-based coastal conservation initiatives as represented by the LMMAs and other sites managed collaboratively with coastal communities. In addition to this documentation, there are elements of assessment and analysis to guide the expansion and strengthening of marine conservation in the region, particularly towards the achievement of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

Read the full document here: https://www.unep.org/resources/report/marine-protected-areas-outlook

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