Integrating regional conservation priorities for multiple objectives into national policy
Multinational conservation initiatives that prioritize investment across a region invariably navigate trade-offs among multiple objectives. It seems logical to focus where several objectives can be achieved efficiently, but such multi-objective hotspots may be ecologically inappropriate, or politically inequitable. Here we devise a framework to facilitate a regionally cohesive set of marine-protected areas driven by national preferences and supported by quantitative conservation prioritization analyses, and illustrate it using the Coral Triangle Initiative. We identify areas important for achieving six objectives to address ecosystem representation, threatened fauna, connectivity and climate change. We expose trade-offs between areas that contribute substantially to several objectives and those meeting one or two objectives extremely well. Hence there are two strategies to guide countries choosing to implement regional goals nationally: multi-objective hotspots and complementary sets of single-objective priorities. This novel framework is applicable to any multilateral or global initiative seeking to apply quantitative information in decision making.