From 9 to 11 October 2022, the annual workshop of the MPA Networks Twinning Project took place in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, ahead of the Learning Exchanges with South-East Asia.

Networks Twinning Coordinator Puri Canals was delighted to be able to bring together several partners from all over the world despite the long journey, which confirms the value that these face-to-face exchanges bring to the members of our network community. For this workshop, we welcomed Alexandra Sapoznikow from the Patagonian Forum, Marie Romani and Carole Martinez from MedPAN, Phénia Marras from the French Biodiversity Agency, Israel Santana Caraballo from the Environment Ministry of the Dominican Republic, Lauren Wenzel from NOAA and Mamadou Sidibe from Community MPAs Senegal.

After some welcoming words by Puri Canals, Charles Besancon presented the preliminary results of his desk study about Networks of MPA managers effectiveness, inviting the partners to continue to contribute to it with their own experiences. The study aims to develop a framework for the effectiveness of MPA networks, which will be especially useful to newly emerging networks.

The twinning partners also took this opportunity to coordinate joint action at upcoming international events, including COP15 and IMPAC5. The first day ended with discussions around technical topics, such as the greater inclusion of marine turtles into protection efforts, planning for ecosystem restoration at national and regional scales, and opportunities for sustainable funding.

A big part of the second day of the annual workshop was dedicated to the future of the Twinning against the backdrop of the scheduled ending of the Ocean Governance Project at the end of next year. There was consensus that the continuation of the MPA network community would contribute to the successful management of MPAs worldwide and should be further developed in the future. Since the project’s initiation in 2016 the network has grown significantly and developed into an invaluable platform of knowledge production and sharing for the now twenty-two members. The annual workshop ended with preparations for the Learning Exchange with South-East Asia in the following days, where all partners made contributions about their respective MPA network’s experiences and benefited from exchanges with MPA managers in the region.