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WCPA Bulletin July 2022

The iconic Mount Kinabalu Park provided the perfect backdrop for the first WCPA steering committee meeting of this quadrennium, and we are grateful to Sabah Parks for hosting the event.

Message from the Chair

Welcome to this first edition of “ABC News,” the bulletin of the World Commission on Protected Areas. We are launching this organ as part of our commitment to increase communications to and among all of our members. We will publish this bulletin occasionally, as needed. Note that we are limiting the scope to items specific to the activities of the Commission itself. Other conservation news should continue to be submitted to the Protecting the Planet newsletter, published monthly by IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme. See below for details.

We have been very busy organizing the Commission, formally reconstituted after the World Conservation Congress last year. Our slate of regional and thematic vice chairs was approved by the IUCN Council in February. You can find a list HERE. This group met for the first time earlier this month (see next section), immediately after a very successful 2nd Asia Parks Congress in Sabah, Malaysia.

Madhu Rao, Chair

IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas

Steering Committee Meeting

The IUCN WCPA’s first Steering Committee Meeting of the new quadrennium brought together 33 participants from 19 countries for a Strategic Planning process moderated by Kent Redford (WCPA Strategy Advisor), Nick Salafsky and Paola Mejia (Co-Vice Chairs for Conservation Outcomes) and Arlyne Johnson (Lead for SG/TF coordination).

The meeting had multiple objectives, including an introduction to the WCPA mandate and to review WCPA’s ongoing work to acknowledge successes, plus challenges and opportunities moving forward. An important objective was to lay the groundwork for developing a high-level, four-year WCPA strategy, building on the WCPA mandate. It was an opportunity to discuss the Commission’s strategic approaches to communications, publications and fund raising, in addition to the nuts-and-bolts of how to better engage Commission and IUCN members. The participation of representatives from IUCN HQ helped clarify the Secretariat’s new programmatic structures and their mandates as relevant to the WCPA. Three days of intense discussions were helpful in tackling some of the key challenges to our collective work. The event outlined potential solutions for a wide range of issues, including in regional coordination.

Vice Chairs for WCPA’s three Asia regions hard at work at the IUCN WCPA Steering Committee meeting. Left to right: Amran Hamzah (South East Asia), Sonali Ghosh (South Asia) and Yoshitaka Kumagai (East Asia).

A Theory of Change (TOC) approach mapped ongoing work within the diverse Themes, Specialist Groups and Task Forces against the mandate and objectives of the Commission. The TOC model provides a backbone for strategic planning for the Commission. Discussions over three days drew focus on (a) key strategic initiatives for the Commission to pursue and (b) important ‘gap’ issues for consideration and action by the Commission in the form of new task forces and specialist groups. All alongside a commitment to continuing important work already underway.

View a report of the meeting HERE (best viewed in “slideshow mode”). If you cannot access Google find a PDF version of the report HERE.

Asia Parks Congress

The 2nd Asia Parks Congress (APC), held in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah from 25 to 29 May 2022, was a great success, with more than 1,200 participants in person and online. The Congress was organized by Sabah Parks and Sabah Tourism in partnership with IUCN’s Asia Regional Office and WCPA. The meeting covered a lot of issues highly relevant to delivering the proposed new CBD Global Biodiversity Framework and especially Target 3. There was strong support from Asian delegates for more ambitious targets and delivering 30 percent protection of marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems by 2030.

Read a brief report on WCPA’s engagement at the APC HERE.

Africa Protected Areas Congress

The IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) convened 18–23 July 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. It was “the first ever continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens and interest groups to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature, safeguarding Africa’s iconic wildlife, delivering vital life-supporting ecosystem services, [and] promoting sustainable development while conserving Africa’s cultural heritage and traditions.”

Look for a report on the Congress in a future issue of the Bulletin. For a list of events and sessions organized by WCPA, see HERE.

International Ranger Awards

Inspiring stories of conservation courage and community commitment filled the auditorium at the International Ranger Awards ceremony at the Africa Protected Areas Congress. The 12 recipients included one of the Traditional Owners of Pila Nature Reserve in Western Australia (which recently had their land title restored); the leader of a team of Chiquitano and Guarani rangers from the Grand Chaco of Bolivia; plus K9 anti-poaching tracking handlers and an all-female ranger team, both from Zimbabwe; and more.

For a full list of recipients, see HERE.


Global Biodiversity Framework Target 3

Achieving the ambitious global goal of effectively and equitably conserving thirty percent of the Earth’s lands and waters requires a science-based, globally-derived set of tools. Ensuring that the Global Biodiversity Framework—and particularly Target 3 (“30×30”)—is implemented with integrity, is at the center of WCPA’s work now. We will build on what we are already doing, and position our Commission to help further as the simple idea of 30×30 hits hard realities on the ground. As countries around the world are asked to scale up their ambition for conservation, so too the Commission must scale up its efforts.

WCPA was well-represented at the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG-4) in Nairobi, Kenya this June. However, progress in finalizing the exact language of Target 3, and indeed all of the GBF, has been slow. Read this blog post from IUCN’s policy centre.

Despite delays in adopting a new agreement under the Convention on Biological Diversity, WCPA is working to provide guidance to countries already planning for implementation. A few examples:

WCPA’s OECM Specialist Group continues to work to dispel confusion about what OECMs are, and what they are not. They have developed a second version of their Site-level tool for identifying Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures, currently being field-tested in a number of countries. Other knowledge products are in development.

A report on field testing of WCPA’s Site-level tool for identifying other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) presented at the Asia Parks Congress.

Also, WCPA is leading on the curation of a guide to inclusive and effective implementation of GBF Target 3. To be developed through a highly consultative process, the guide will cover the elements and components of the final 30×30 target, including inclusivity, rights, equity, connectivity, ecological representation, effective conservation and climate resilience, among other issues, drawing on existing data and information. The guide will build upon the recently published Best Practice in Delivering the 30×30 Target: Protected Areas and Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures developed through Equilibrium Research by The Nature Conservancy and WCPA for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


WCPA has produced two technical notes recently, on equity in conservation, in association with the International Institute for Environment and Development; and on wildness as a protected area attribute, which should be available very soon. Technical reports on dark sky reserves and on connectivity as it relates to road, rail and canal infrastructure are almost ready and will be published later in the year. A new edition of the journal PARKS is available, with papers ranging from a review of the Healthy Parks-Healthy People movement in Canada to an analysis of ranger casualties.

New Task Forces

Human Wildlife Coexistence—where the interests of wildlife conservation and other human activities occur together synergistically, and largely work in harmony, rather than conflict—is suggested as the ideal end goal in conservation. Such a situation is characterised by constructive dialogue among stakeholders regarding wildlife management and conservation, collaborative actions, and the existence of effective and inclusive ways of working through and navigating conflicts where they arise. However, achieving coexistence is an immense global challenge, particularly in and around Protected and Conserved Areas (PCAs). A new Task Force to integrate Human Wildlife Co-existence into Standards for Protected and Conserved Areas will review the IUCN Green List and other standards to identify and pilot additional elements to this standard, and others. The Task Force expects to complete its work in 2025.

There is currently a great deal of uncertainty around how a growing proliferation of types (or classifications) of area-based conservation (PAs, OECMs, ICCAs, ACCs, IPAs, etc.) relate to each other, and thus how they should be used or selected to achieve positive outcomes for nature. For example, despite best efforts to communicate about OECMs, some people equate them with protected area category V (and VI), or sometimes as privately protected areas. Perhaps more concerning, some might argue that further protected areas are not needed if the same areas can be recognized as OECMs instead. The importance of IPLCs in conservation is increasingly understood and valued, but the place of “territories of life” within the spectrum of area-based conservation remains unsettled. The fit of restoration sites (GBF Target 2) is not at all clear, nor that of spatially explicit nature-based solutions. Growing commitments to a 30×30 target make this an excellent time to address these issues and bring greater clarity and coherence to understanding and practice.

A Task Force to Harmonize Classifications and Nomenclatures of Area-Based Conservation will provide clarity on these questions, that is, to harmonize diverse types, nomenclatures and approaches through a multivariate, relational comparison of types and categories of area-based conservation. The main task would be to develop knowledge products, perhaps a WCPA technical report, over two years.

The ABC Bulletin is by, for and about the members of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. It is a vehicle for us to communicate major progress amongst ourselves, and for the Chair to provide important updates. The scope is limited to items specific to the activities of the Commission itself. Other conservation news should continue to be submitted to theProtecting the Planet newsletter, published monthly by IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme.

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Gibbon,Hylobates muelleri, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia, June 2022

Credits: Steering Committee by Sean Southey; 30×30 graphic from DEFRA report; ranger award by IUCN; Mount Kinabalu, APC, Asia RVCs and Gibbon by Brent Mitchell; ABC blocks by Dennis Skley.

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