The Ocean Governance project took a major part in the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), a global forum for ocean conservation professionals and officials, which was held in Vancouver, Canada, from 3-9 February 2023.

By enabling a large contingent of partners – MPA managers, network managers and experts – to participate in the congress, the EU Ocean Governance project was able to bring a wealth of experience to our official 5 hosted sessions, 1 side event and 4 speedtalks plus 6 additional sessions at the project’s stand.

Building on our strengths: sharing knowledge and building capacity

The congress demonstrated and built on the project’s strength in bringing together MPA managers to share their knowledge, experience and to build capacity, in countries around the Atlantic basin and in the Coral Triangle in South-East Asia, where it is supporting ecosystem restoration works.

The congress, in Vancouver’s stunning Convention Centre, provided the opportunity for the Ocean Governance project’s resilience and marine mammals twinning partnerships to present their self-assessment toolkits developed for MPA managers, with valuable testimonies provided by partners who use these tools. The MPA manager networks twinning held 3 knowledge-sharing sessions: on network effectiveness, long-term sustainability and resilience. Restoration projects in South-East Asia and efforts to promote transboundary cooperation in the same region were presented at separate speedtalks, while partners from Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines shared their roadmaps and strategies towards delivery of the 30×30 target of the new global biodiversity framework. Building on the dynamic of the project and the commitment and engagement of its many partners around the world, the project used the occasion of its side event to launch a call for joint action by networks of MPA managers to build a global network of MPA managers. Please join us in the call by adding your name and organisation to the list of signatories!

The role of networks of MPA managers in supporting implementation of the global biodiversity framework appears to be gaining traction. In a separate initiative, a project to create the Great Bear Sea MPA Network was announced during IMPAC5 on 6 February. This exciting new collaboration brings together 15 Canadian First Nations that co-manage MPAs on the Pacific Rim with Canada’s federal and provincial governments.

Networking opportunity

The congress provided the opportunity for the resilience and networks twinnings to hold coordination meetings thanks to several partners being present in Vancouver. The Networks partners also took part in talks with conservation trust funds, a valuable source of sustainable funding for MPA manager networks, and the collaboration of the MEDFUND and MedPAN was presented in a well-attended session at the stand.

The project stand in the exhibition area, shared with our partner MedPAN, served as a focal point throughout the event, providing a space for partners to meet, network and host presentations, as well as visibility for the project, with videos and slideshows of the project’s toolkits and ongoing restoration works in the Coral Triangle.

Celebrating our partners’ achievements

The project was also delighted to share and celebrate the success of three of our project partners during IMPAC5.

Dr María del Carmen García Rivas of Mexico was awarded the Kenton R. Miller Award for Innovation in National Parks and Protected Area Sustainability, by IUCN and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), which recognised her leadership of the Hurricane Insurance Project in Puerto Morelos National Park and for being a role model for women rangers and conservation professionals in Mexico. Maria Carmen is a partner involved in both our MPA Networks and Resilience twinnings.

Mamadou Sidibé, president of the West Africa MPA network (RAMPAO) and director of Senegal’s department of community-managed MPAs (DAMCP), was presented with the IMPAC baton – a wooden paddle crafted by the First Nation hosts of the Vancouver congress – as Senegal was announced as host of the next IMPAC, IMPAC6. As director of RAMPAO, Colonel Sidibé is a partner in our networks twinning project, and in his role as director of Senegal’s community-managed MPAs is a partner in our resilience twinning partnership, whose self-assessment tool has been rolled out in the community-managed MPAs in Senegal. (Watch him deliver his speech back at the team hotel on our YouTube channel)

Kelen Luciana Leite of Brazil’s Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and a partner in our Resilience twinning, was presented with a Marine Conservation Institute Blue Park Award for exceptional marine wildlife conservation at the Tupinambás Ecological Station and Alcatrazes Archipelago Wildlife Refuge, which she heads.

Taking the learning back home

IMPAC5 closed on a high for the Ocean Governance project as our partners who attended and those that we met were able to experience first-hand the benefits and contribution of strong human connectivity for improved MPA performance, ecological connectivity and the delivery of international biodiversity targets.

Our OG project team leader Puri Canals, who had been invited to take part in the Leadership Forum at the close of IMPAC5, used the opportunity to present the work and impact of the EU Ocean Governance project and highlight the call for joint action to create worldwide connections between networks of MPA managers.

It provided a further boost to connections developed thus far in the project by bringing together groups of partners that had previously met only in separate twinning meetings, thus opening new channels of communication and cooperation.

IMPAC5 was an enriching experience and credit for the valuable opportunity must go to the organisers and hosts – the government partners of the Host First Nations (Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh), Province of British Columbia and Government of Canada, and organisations the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).


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