The IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) is a landmark global forum on protected areas. The WPC has been held every ten years since 1962 and substantially influenced the way in which the world has viewed systems of protected areas, addressing global challenges and opportunities and establishing standards to ensure that protected areas are effective. WPCs have set the protected area agendas for the decades that follow.
From 12 till 19 November 2014, the 6th WPC will be held in Sydney, Australia. There will be hundreds of workshops, discussion panels, pavilions, plenary and side events, and e-poster presentations, with as the main aim to position protected areas firmly within the broader goals of economic and community well-being through the next decade and beyond. Almost 5,000 delegates from 160 countries have registered so far for the Congress, which is way beyond expectations. Several Heads of State/Government are attending, over 20 Ministers, 13 Heads of International Organizations alongside businesses executives, Indigenous Leaders, park rangers and renowned conservationists, making it a unique and interesting mix.
Protected areas are important for the EA, as a form of land use where ecosystem health, sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity conservation as prime goals. The EA will have a good presence at the coming WPC, with a special focus on (i) development and in particular mining industry challenges to protected areas and (ii) the role and rights of local communities as key stakeholders in protected area governance. The latter includes land rights, tenure, access and benefit sharing and bottom-up protected area initiatives like Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs).
Policy recommendations by the WPC on both subjects and on societal benefits of protected areas will be used by a considerable number of EA partners in national lobby. Likewise, alliance members will use selected WPC recommendations for lobby at global (e.g. SDGs and GPGs) and Dutch levels. Our aim is to strengthen protected areas as an integral component of sustainable land use policy and highlight their role as nature-based solutions to global challenges like climate change and food security.