National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs) are key instruments for defining priorities and modalities for effective, ef cient and equitable biodiversity management at the national level and across key sectors. As such, they provide important opportunities to recognize and integrate women’s empowerment and gender equality considerations.
Out of the 254 total NBSAP reports from 174 countries (presented from 1993 to 2016), 143 reports (56% of total documents) from 107 countries (61% of total countries examined) contain at least one gender and/or women keyword.
With respect to how women and women’s participation are characterized in NBSAPs, the most countries (37% of the 174 Parties included in this analysis) indicate inclusion of women as stakeholders; 27% include reference to women as beneficiaries; 17% refer to women as vulnerable; and the fewest, 4% (seven countries) characterize women as agents of change.
Gender considerations are integrated in various ways and across multiple sections of NBSAPs. For example, 14% of countries include women’s empowerment and/or gender equality as a guiding principle. Approximately one-quarter (24%) of most recent NBSAPs include at least one specific activity geared towards women or otherwise proactively including gender considerations, e.g., to address gender gaps.
Echoing common themes across decades of CBD decisions, 26 countries (15%) reference women as keepers of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in relation to their roles as farmers, fishers, and elders of indigenous communities in at least one of their NBSAPs, while 41 countries (24%) reference women as stewards of the environment in at least one NBSAP.
Conservation Targets & Planning
Effective planning for marine protected areas should be based on conservation targets that are representative of underlying habitats and species distributions. Here, we present the results of an investigation into using species-area relationships (SARs) to define habitat conservation targets for two dominant taxonomic groups (fish and molluscs) using data from the Port Stephens estuary in New South Wales, Australia. Results demonstrated that planning conducted using variable habitat targets, based on SARs, provided significant improvements in representation of habitats and species, compared to planning using uniform (fixed percentage) habitat targets. Planning based on SARs was also found to provide significant improvements in species protection for fish and molluscs when compared with planning implemented without the benefit of detailed biodiversity information. However, SAR targets were found to be sensitive to the function type chosen to represent species distributions (i.e. power-law and exponential), and to the method used for estimation of species richness. Therefore, where SARs are used to set targets in conservation planning, it is important to ensure that they are representative of underlying species distributions. Overall, the improved performance of conservation planning based on SARs indicates the potential for broader application of this technique in planning marine protected areas.
There is an increasing recognition that marine and coastal ecosystems are under severe threat. The implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has become a cornerstone in addressing these impacts. The formulation of the Aichi Target (AT) 11 has acknowledged the benefits of MPAs as a vital approach to achieve marine conservation targets. In the AT 11, reference to the term “equitably managed” has demonstrated the importance of equity in the planning and management of MPAs and in this paper, a description of how equity should be considered from the inception stage is detailed. Two case studies, one in Japan and the other in the Solomon Islands, were chosen because they include equity considerations from the inception and were successful in reaching their conservation targets. Through these two case studies, it is demonstrated that understanding the objectives and expectations of all stakeholders can help achieve the qualitative goals of the AT 11. This is particularly true for local and indigenous communities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal communities in developing countries. Finally, a set of recommendations has been provided to address possible limitations that could arise during the MPA design exercise. Participatory area management and spatial and temporal zoning can help by ensuring that benefits and costs are distributed equitably between stakeholders.
The use of targets to provide measurable objectives and benchmarks for management, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems is commonplace. In the marine and coastal realms, targets have been successful in setting sustainable limits to fisheries harvests, thresholds for pollutants, and recommended amounts of representative habitat included in marine protected area (MPA) networks. Quantifiable targets can dissuade governments from making dubious claims about investments in ocean protection that sound impressive but cannot be verified. Examples are presented where protection targets have been used successfully for marine management, and instances where measurable and meaningful benchmarks serve to allow tracking of true progress.
However, the setting of targets can also be a double-edged sword. In some cases, targets have proven useful, but in many instances, interventions made to fulfil targets not only give a false illusion of progress or even success, they present opportunity costs that impede further conservation.
Some of these issues were raised in the 2003 article ‘Dangerous Targets?: Unresolved issues and ideological clashes around marine protected areas’ that appeared in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. Since its publication, the article's warnings about how targets can sometimes be dangerous and counter-productive have led to intense debate among scientists and policy-makers alike, and the paper has been cited in more than 500 publications. Yet today, more than a dozen years after the first ‘Dangerous Targets' publication, new targets are driving more MPA designations and conservation strategies than ever before, and the ‘dangerous’ aspects of target setting have been largely ignored.
This paper discusses old ‘dangers' in the context of new developments in marine conservation, including the lingering problem of having simplistic metrics drive marine policies, and the unintended result that can often occur when outputs (percentage of area under MPA designation) do not align with true outcomes of effective management and conservation. Newly emerging ‘dangers’ in letting areal targets (percentage of area under MPA designation) drive MPA designations are also discussed, including how the rush to fulfil obligations to protect a certain proportion of area is taking place in planning, separate from broader level, and potentially more holistic, marine spatial planning (MSP).
The paper suggests five recommendations that would allow policy-makers to use targets more effectively, including: (1) increase transparency in planning, especially around specific goals and objectives of MPA establishment; (2) use time-based areal targets when representativity is a goal of the protected area strategy; (3) use MPAs when spatial protections are the best solution to the management challenge; (4) design MPAs with intrinsic performance goals, and use performance-based metrics in subsequent evaluation of MPAs; and (5) embed MPA planning into broader policy frameworks, including MSP. These five recommendations are oriented toward multilateral institutions, governments, and non-governmental organizations, suggesting concrete ways to utilize target-setting to their best advantage, in order to fight the downward spiral of degradation affecting marine and coastal environments worldwide.
Despite the considerable expansion in the number and extent of marine protected areas during the past century, coverage remains limited amid concerns that many marine protected areas are failing to meet their objectives. New estimates of global marine protected area, based on the database maintained by Sea Around Us, revealed a degree of progress towards protecting at least 10% of the global ocean by 2020. It is estimated that > 6,000 marine protected areas, covering c. 3.27% (12 million km2) of the oceans, had been designated by the end of 2013. However, protection is generally weak, with c. one-sixth (1.9 million km2) of the combined area designated as no-take areas (i.e. fishing and other extractive activities are prohibited). Additional large tracts of ocean will need to be protected to reach the 10% target, and we investigate hypothetical scenarios for such expansion. Such scenarios offer a one-dimensional measure of progress as they do not address aspects of other global targets, such as Aichi Target 11, which will help to ensure that marine protected areas meet their objectives and achieve conservation outcomes.
- In 2010, Contracting Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the so-called ‘Aichi targets’ in order to achieve global biodiversity conservation. Target 11 specifically provides that ‘by 2020 (…) at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas (…) are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures’. This objective is currently far from being reached since less than 3% of the ocean has been designated as marine protected areas (MPAs).
- In areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) in particular, with less than 0.5% protected, there is no mechanism aimed at creating internationally-recognized MPAs and the initiatives launched by regional organizations, although promising, have limitations.
- ABNJ are nevertheless facing increasing human pressures and it is therefore appropriate and pressing to designate a comprehensive and representative network of MPAs in these areas. This paper analyses the current efforts conducted to better conserve marine biodiversity in ABNJ and identifies enabling conditions for meeting the Aichi Target 11.
- The adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, along with the 20 Aichi Targets, is a strong political endorsement for integrating biodiversity strategy across the entire United Nations system. Aichi Targets represent specific, time-bound drivers for governments to safeguard both marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
- For the marine environment, Aichi Target 11 represents a call to effectively conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The core indicator to measure Aichi Target 11 is the extent of protected area coverage, and therefore it is essential that MPA data used to calculate this metric are robust.
- The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the authoritative source of data for measuring Aichi Target coverage progress. The WDPA assimilates global protected areas data as officially reported by the UN Member States themselves.
- Analysis of the WDPA (August 2014) calculated that MPAs now cover approximately 12,300,000 km2 or 3.41% of the world's ocean. Only 0.59% of the global ocean area (2 163 661 km2 within 1124 areas) is protected in no-take areas.
- Only gathering and using State-sanctioned information may affect the accuracy of the WDPA MPA data. However, it is essential to first and foremost recognize national sovereignty and the rights of the Member State data providers in order to maintain a comprehensive approach to data gathering while ensuring international support for the resulting coverage figures that are used to measure global environmental targets.
- Further improvements could be made to the MPA data, for example by refining current MPA attributes and working with Member States and conventions to reduce or remove point data in the system. Moreover, broadening the scope of the WDPA to allow the inclusion of clearly marked non-State-sanctioned sites would complement existing official data and facilitate dialogue between Member States and other data providers towards MPA data improvement.
The spatial coverage of marine and coastal protected areas worldwide has shown a rapid increase in recent years. Over 32% of the world’s coral reefs and over 36% of the world’s mangrove forests now fall within protected areas. However, simple measures of extent are insufficient for assessing progress toward achieving global targets. Notably, the CBD Aichi Target 11 calls for ‘at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services’ to be protected. There is, therefore, an urgent need to assess how well protected areas cover these areas of importance for ecosystem services.
Marine spatial management is an important step in regulating the sustainable use of marine resources and preserving habitats and species. The systematic conservation planning software “Marxan” was used to analyse the effect of different conservation objectives and targets on the design of a network of marine protected areas around two islands of the Azores archipelago, Northeast Atlantic. The analyses integrated spatial patterns of the abundance and reproductive potential of multispecies, the vulnerability of fish to fishing, habitat type, algae biotopes, and socio-economic costs and benefits (including fishing effort and recreational activities). Three scenarios focused on fisheries-related objectives (“fisheries scenarios”, FSs) and three on multiple-use and biodiversity conservation objectives (“biodiversity scenarios”, BSs), respectively. Three different protection targets were compared for each set, the existing, minimum, and maximum levels of protection, whereas conservation features were weighted according to their biologically/ecologically functioning. Results provided contrasting solutions for site selection and identified potential gaps in the existing design. The influence of the conservation objective on site selection was most evident when minimum target levels were applied. Otherwise, solutions for FSs and BSs were very similar and mostly shaped by the protection level. More important, BSs that considered opportunity cost and benefits achieved conservation targets more cost-efficiently. The presented systematic approach ensures that targets for habitats with high fish abundance, fecundity, and vulnerability are achieved efficiently. It should be of high applicability for adaptive management processes to improve the effectiveness of existing spatial management practices, in particular when fishing and leisure activities coexist, and suggest that decision-makers should account for multiple users’ costs and benefits when designing and implementing marine reserve networks.