Protected Areas

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The IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

IUCN’s Programme on Protected Areas has a long heritage in the Union, with a headquarters-based core team and regional staff, and a closely coordinated programme of activities with the World Commission on Protected Areas. An IUCN-commissioned External Strategic Review of the IUCN Programme on Protected Areas was concluded in 2010, making far-reaching recommendations for the revised objectives and functions of a new Global Programme on Protected Areas (GPAP). These included the establishment of a separately managed World Heritage Programme, the appointment of a new Director, Trevor Sandwith, in 2011, and the strengthening of the programme through prioritized budget support.

The Global Programme acts as the focal point for the 1500 member IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, which provides voluntary specialist expertise to the programme. We are working towards a single unified work programme for the Secretariat, Commission and Members during the 2017-2020 Quadrennial period, that will clearly outline the complementary roles and responsibilities. Here you will find the  FileJoint work programme for the IUCN programme period 2017-2020.135.78 KB

The IUCN Council in November 2010 noted that the Global Protected Areas Programme had a direct role to play in the implementation of the CBD COP10 decisions, implying the need for additional associated resources and a broader one programme approach that cooperates with other significant themes and regions of IUCN’s programme. There remains a need for close integration of the World Heritage Programme.

2011 therefore marks a new beginning of the Global Programme on Protected Areas, with enhanced global coordination across IUCN’s Secretariat, Regions, Commissions and Members, with a growing portfolio of programmatic and project funding, committed partnerships with key development cooperation partners, the CBD Secretariat and IUCN members for core support, and a three-year programme to convene the 2014 6th IUCN World Parks Congress, the most prominent event on the global protected areas calendar.

Role of the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme

An important consequence of the Strategic Review was the positioning of the GPAP as a global thematic programme of IUCN. Based on this review and a consideration of constraints and opportunities, the functional niche of the global programme has its foundation in:

IUCN’s global leadership – IUCN is a recognised global leader in protected area policy, science and management practice;

Global relevance and impact of the issues covered by the programme – a large part of IUCN’s global programme is dedicated to protected areas, including its membership, budget and projects that are spent directly or indirectly in and for protected areas and protected area systems;

International and regional convening power and ability to influence policy and effect behaviour change – IUCN and IUCN-WCPA are recognised as providers of technical guidance for the CBD on protected areas;

The opportunity to determine and maintain international standards – IUCN has established the system of PA categories and governance types, and a system of determining the management effectiveness of protected areas. Certification of protected area quality is a potential opportunity;

The opportunity to develop and communicate an international brand in best practice knowledge products – IUCN is the custodian of the definitions of Protected Areas, the system of Protected Areas Categories and the UN List of Protected Areas, pulled together as ProtectedPlanet and there are other knowledge products in preparation;

Opportunities for the IUCN Secretariat, Commissions, Members and Regions to work together to prove concepts in the field and mobilize the Union, that requires global leadership and co-ordination, e.g. the advancement of cutting edge guidance such as Natural Solutions for Climate Change;

Funding and partnership opportunities that require a one programme value proposition (for scope, depth, reach and impact). In the light of the emerging new business model, the niche of the Global Programme on Protected Areas is anchored in IUCN’s knowledge products, exercised through project partnerships in regions, and intended to influence and support IUCN’s wider membership for scaled up implementation. But Protected Areas are essentially a delivery mechanism for many elements of IUCN’s programmatic work, resulting in institutional and management capacity to give effect to many biodiversity conservation and natural resource management objectives in terrestrial, coastal and marine environments. Advocating that PAs are mainstreamed as a cross-cutting approach is a specific charge and opportunity for IUCN’s leadership.

Priorities of the Global Protected Areas Programme

The Global Protected Areas Programme implements the IUCN Programme for 2017-2020 across all programmatic elements. Protected Area systems are both ENDS (protected areas directly conserve genetic resources, species, ecosystems and ecosystem processes) and MEANS (to enable many other thematic conservation objectives through in situ implementation, governance and equitable sharing). The priorities of the GPAP will help deliver IUCN’s 2017-2020 Global Programme. 


Discover what GPAP and WCPA were up to at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawai‘i!

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