With recent commitments made by governments around the globe, the world is on track to protect over 10% of the globe’s marine areas by 2020, announced Dr. Cristiana Pașca Palmer, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
This target was agreed by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010, and was also adopted by Member States of the United Nations as part of Sustainable Development Goal 14.
Since 1993, when the CBD entered into force, the area of marine protected areas in the world’s ocean and coastal waters has increased nearly 20-fold, from 0.3% to 5.7% today. Since the adoption, in 2010, of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity targets, the area of marine protected areas has more than doubled, from 2.4 to 5.7 %.
With commitments made as of today by a number of Parties to the CBD, an additional 4.4% percent of marine area will be covered by Marine Protected Areas by 2020.
These national commitments include:
- Increases in protected areas expected from projects already funded;
- National priority identified by countries under their plans submitted to the Convention; and
- Voluntary commitments announced in advance of the Oceans Conference. Three quarters of these new commitments have been made with implementation plans giving confidence that they will be carried out.
Focussing only on areas under national jurisdiction, 14.4% are currently protected; this is projected to rise to over 23% by 2020.
“The world is making tremendous progress in reaching this target for protected areas in our oceans, and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 has been a catalysing force,” said Dr. Cristiana Pașca Palmer.
“However,” she continued, “we still need to increase efforts. We need to ensure that the growing network of Marine Protected Areas is representative of the different ocean ecosystems. We also need to ensure that marine protected areas are managed effectively and fairly.”
“As we mark World Environment Day, these concrete steps towards protecting more of the world’s marine areas is another cause for celebration. Our planet’s biodiversity is critical for humanity, and all countries must redouble their efforts to reach our common objectives,” said Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment.
Marine Protected Areas contribute substantial social, economic and environmental benefits to society. They provide food security and livelihood security for some 300 million people, help mitigation and adaption to climate change and contribute to coastal protection and disaster risk reduction. Rates of return on investment in marine protected areas are very high. Recognising the link between protected areas and human benefits, the Convention’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 takes an inclusive, people-centred approach to management.
The CBD has been described as the key international legal instrument for protected areas, supporting and fostering national and multilateral efforts in a comprehensive manner that contribute to achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda. The date for achievement of the targets for protected areas coincides with the end of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.