Ocean Governance Project at Monaco Ocean Week 2023

The Ocean Governance project took an active part in this year’s Monaco Ocean Week, which took place from 20 to 25 March. Two official events on 22 March presented the project and its progress in 2022, and the new Global Alliance for Ocean Protection.

The first event, “The EU Ocean Governance Project: helping MPA managers build partnerships around the world”, presented the project’s components and screened the recently released project videos, which helped bring the project to life for the audience. Speakers at the event were Purificacio Canals (Ocean Governance Project Coordinator, President of MedPAN), Francis Staub (Marine Mammals Twinning Coordinator), Marie Romani (Twinning Partner, Executive Secretary, MedPAN) and Jean-Jacques Goussard (Coastal Resilience Twinning Coordinator).

The project also contributed to the presentation of the new Global Alliance for Marine Protection, an initiative by conservation trust funds to create a global community to support effectively managed and sustainably financed MPAs (read more here).

It was a pleasure to meet participants at the event and discover so much interest in our topics and our work with MPA networks, as well as to get the opportunity to establish new connections. We thank the organisers of Monaco Ocean Week, our partners at the Global Alliance for Marine Protection and our event speakers.

Monaco Ocean Week was founded in 2016 by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco and organised by the Prince of Albert Foundation, the Monaco government, and other partners. The event takes place annually in Monaco and has grown to become an international forum on ocean conservation and sustainability. The event brings together a diverse range of stakeholders, including scientists, policymakers, NGOs, businesses and the general public, to engage in dialogue and develop solutions to pressing challenges facing the ocean today.

The Marine Mammal Twinning at the Humpback Whale World Congress

The Marine Mammal Twinning at the Humpback Whale World Congress

Between 6 and 11 March 2023, the Marine Mammal Twinning of the Ocean Governance project’s component 2  attended the 3rd Humpback Whale World Congress, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The congress brought together stakeholders involved in humpback whale conservation and the theme of this year’s edition was “The Blue Economy for Sustainable Development”, reflecting on the importance of humpback whales in their migratory areas.

On the first day of the congress, the twinning presented the Marine Mammals Management Toolkit, an online resource designed to help marine protected area (MPA) managers and practitioners to better understand and effectively manage marine mammals through MPA management plans and policy frameworks. Made up of 4 components (factsheets, self-assessment tool (SAT), good practices and community of practice), the toolkit provides tools and resources to support networks of managers, marine mammal management and conservation. The presentation was attended by 80 scientists, conservationists and managers and served as an introduction to the series of training workshops that the twinning delivered during the congress.

The workshops, entitled “Towards the effective management of marine mammals and MPAs: the Marine Mammals Management Toolkit”, aimed to enhance understanding of the toolkit, with a specific focus on the use of the self-assessment tool and how it can be used in localised settings to support MPA management. The workshops were attended by MPA practitioners, stakeholders and users from Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, representing different stages of the MPA process, from initial scoping and MPA development, to monitoring and evaluation of MPAs and reporting on MPA progress and effectiveness.

The twinning also sponsored the participation of a master’s student, Dalma Sonez from the University of the Republic of Uruguay. Dalma supported the twinning in delivering the workshops and presented the results of her thesis, for which the toolkit was utilised to understand the level of protection afforded to marine mammals across 11 MPAs throughout the Americas.

The congress provided the opportunity to emphasise the toolkit’s adaptability and multi-faceted application for monitoring, evaluating, capacity building and communication. The twinning explored new avenues of collaboration, focused on welcoming new MPAs into its community of users and strengthening its resources, and will be looking to continue to provide valuable support to managers and users for the successful conservation of marine mammals.

BBNJ treaty – reflections on the historic agreement

BBNJ treaty – reflections on the historic agreement

To manage new MPAs in international waters, we will need to apply all the existing knowledge acquired from MPA management in jurisdictional waters

The landmark ‘high seas treaty’ agreed on 5 March represents a major advance in global ocean governance as it creates the framework needed to improve ocean biodiversity protection worldwide. The Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty creates a legal framework for the high seas, which until now have been largely lawless, and paves the way for the creation of vast marine protected areas (MPAs) outside national waters.

It is often observed that the biggest challenge with MPAs is not in creating them but in ensuring they are effectively managed. Our project is based on the knowledge that networks of MPA managers are ideally placed to share knowledge, tools and experience and thus improve effective management.

Another wise observation holds that the best way that humans can support ecological connectivity is to work between ourselves to this end. Ecological networks would be just fine if only humans could work together to protect and restore ecosystems. MPAs and MPA managers networks are also key in this regard.

Learn from our experience

Our experience – and that of our partners – has shown the benefits of human networking for the benefit of ocean biodiversity conservation. By supporting capacity-building of regional and national MPA manager networks, the EU Ocean Governance project has enabled our partners to boost management effectiveness. This will be instructive for the future implementation of high seas MPAs.

Our project was also designed in part to overcome barriers that exist between countries, whether these are political, economic or cultural. By creating a platform for states and territories in the Atlantic, in South-East Asia and beyond to meet at a technical level to address MPA management, the project builds learning and understanding at a level where it can have immediate impact on the ground. This experience may also be useful for countries as they work together to implement the BBNJ treaty.

A significant achievement

The treaty is a fine cause to celebrate, the result of over 10 years’ international diplomacy and 2 weeks of intense negotiations leading to the agreement at the UN headquarters in New York last Sunday. As the high seas cover 60% of the ocean by surface (and nearly half the planet), the treaty will make it much easier to achieve the commitment to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030, agreed in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Agreement (2022). It will enter into force once it has been ratified by 60 states.

The contribution of the EU to the achievement should not be underestimated. The EU supported the adoption of the treaty through leading the ‘High Ambition Coalition’, and has pledged to support rapid ratification and help developing countries prepare for its implementation, pledging EUR 40 million as part of a Global Ocean Programme, and calling on other members of the High Ambition Coalition to do the same.

Building ocean governance through strong human partnerships: our takeaway from IMPAC5

Building ocean governance through strong human partnerships: our takeaway from IMPAC5

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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Press release: the Ocean Governance project is at IMPAC5

3 February 2023 — From 3-9 February 2023, the Ocean Governance project is at the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) in Vancouver, Canada. Partners from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe will take part in official sessions to share the project’s approach to learning and knowledge-sharing for improved MPA management.

Official congress sessions

The congress, which aims to improve the management of marine environments, is closely aligned to the project’s own aims: to build dialogue, international cooperation and boost capacity of MPA managers and managers’ networks, for improved conservation outcomes. It follows the adoption in December of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, agreed by Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which includes a target to protect 30% of Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, inland waters by 2030.

“The Ocean Governance project has come to IMPAC5 to share with key MPA actors from around the world the strength of our project and the value of connecting MPA managers, networks and key players in the field with policies at national, regional and global levels. We will share the project’s methodology and approach and show how it is a relevant tool to achieve the 30 by 30 target,” said Puri Canals, project team leader.

From Saturday 4 February to Wednesday 8 February, Ocean Governance project participants will take part in one to three events per day, presenting the project’s activities, from ecosystem restoration at sites in the Coral Triangle in South-East Asia, tools for MPA managers on marine mammals and coastal and marine resilience, and strengthening networks of MPA managers.

Meetings and presentations in the exhibition hall at stand 412

As well as contributing to the official congress programme, the project will have a constant presence at a stand (no. 412) in the exhibition space, showcasing the project through talks and projections and providing a space for small meetings. A programme of presentations at the stand will cover specific activities, such as mangrove restoration, activity with indigenous communities and the recent effectiveness of MPA managers’ networks desk study.

As well as reaching out to the global audience, the congress offers a valuable opportunity for partners in the Marine Mammals, Resilience and MPA networks twinning partnerships to meet in person and exchange their experiences, one of the project’s key objectives and a welcome change after three years of largely virtual meetings.

The congress, which is normally held every 4 years, is organised jointly by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the host nation, this year Canada. The last event (IMPAC4) was in Chile in 2017 after which the COVID-19 pandemic forced the delay of IMPAC5. The Ocean Governance team will make the most of the opportunity of the congress to network with previous and potential collaborators.

About the Ocean Governance Project

The European Commission initiated the Ocean Governance project to contribute to European Union (EU) objectives on international ocean governance and to the delivery of EU global commitments regarding sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity protection. The EU is committed to take action on international ocean governance to ensure safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans. In an action funded by the EU Partnership Instrument, the project is implemented by a consortium of partners including GOPA International Consultants, B&S Europe and WWF Indonesia. The purposes of the project are: – to advance a process leading to enhanced cooperation of MPAs in and between the Atlantic and South-East Asian regions. – to support the implementation of marine and coastal ecosystem restoration activity in the South-East Asian region. – to facilitate broader regional cooperation on marine and coastal resilience in the South-East Asian region with a view to underpin regional stability. – to contribute to the effective management of MPAs in the Atlantic and South-East Asian regions.

Programme of OG project events at IMPAC5 
For more information during IMPAC5, contact Katharine Mill, katharine@wisefrog.co.uk, tel +44 7762 121495.