IIED at the World Parks Congress 2014

Side event

IIED and its partners were at the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia from 12-19 November 2014.

Australia's Border Ranges National Park: more than three-quarters of the park is managed as wilderness and access is by foot only. The World Parks Congress will look at how to protect and manage areas such as these (Photo: Michael Dawes)

A global conservation event and a landmark forum on protected areas, the IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) is held once every ten years. In 2014, the congress will share knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come.

Building on the theme 'Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions', the congress presented, discussed and created original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda.

The importance of equity, governance and social justice in the design and management of protected areas (PAs) is a key area of our work, and IIED supports the Convention on Biological Diversity's emphasis that protected areas should be 'effectively and equitably managed'.

Congress objectives

The congress aimed to:

  • Articulate the vital role of PAs in conserving nature while delivering essential ecosystem services
  • Position protected areas within goals of economic and community well-being, and 
  • Demonstrate how this can be achieved in practice. 

For 'parks', it will strengthen conservation targets while engaging a varied audience from government to general members of society who care about the health of our planet; for 'people', it will engage with development sectors and inspire citizens to connect with nature; and for the 'planet', it will demonstrate nature-based solutions to global challenges such as climate change, health and supporting human life.

The work of IIED

Members of IIED's Natural Resources Group and their research partners attended the congress, and played a key role in a number of events and activities, which are detailed below.

IIED aims to support and shape fairer, more sustainable governance of natural resources by generating the evidence needed to improve key policies, institutions and legal frameworks. IIED's research and analysis addresses the complex inter-relationship of conservation and development in the context of PAs, including:

  • How the biodiversity and ecosystem services of PAs, and efforts to conserve these, contribute to human wellbeing in the broadest sense
  • How PA conservation initiatives may negatively impact people and how to avoid or mitigate such impacts, and
  • How efforts to enhance participation and recognition of indigenous peoples and local communities in PA governance, and reduce poverty, contribute to conservation goals from local to global levels. 

IIED and partner events

Biocultural Heritage Territories: Scaling up the Potato Park to China and India

Date: Thursday 13 November
Speakers: Alejandro Argumedo (ANDES, Peru), Yiching Song (CCAP, China), Ajay Rastogi (LCM, India)

This event launched a new photofilm on Biocultural Heritage Territories, featuring the Potato Park (Peru), the Seed Park (China) and the Bean Park (India). Biocultural heritage territories protect indigenous and traditional land tenure, and use land culture to achieve simultaneous goals of biodiversity conservation and endogenous development. Following the success of the Potato Park, where customary management by five communities conserves 1,460 varieties of potato for food security and climate adaptation, this model is now being scaled up to set up similar biocultural heritage territories in Yunnan, Southwest China and the Himalayas, India. The Potato Park's approach will be presented and discussed, along with the new Seed Park and the Bean Park.

This event was co-organised by IIED and partners.

Related reading: Biocultural heritage website

Nature-culture linkages: Stewardship of biocultural landscapes for biodiversity and people

Date: Friday 14 November

Key speakers: Satoyama Initiative; Pablo Eyzaguirre, Biodiversity International; Jessica Brown, El Parque de la papa; Alejandro Argumedo, ANDES; Alfred Chadeau, Bwabwata National Park; Thaddeus Chadau, Kyaramacan Peoples Association; Friedrich Alpers, Integrated Rural and Nature Conservation; Jaime Siqueira Jr, Fundacao Nacional Do Indio, Peter Yu, NAILSMA.

The effective and equitable governance of protected areas is considered to be one of the best ways of slowing today's unprecedented loss of biodiversity. However, while their stewards may be equipped with legal instruments, resource constraints and other issues can make it difficult for protected areas to realise their intended effects. To achieve conservation targets, it is therefore important to recognise the need for cooperative management of buffer zones and corridors that border and surround protected areas. Increasingly, indigenous and traditional knowledge and land-use practices by communities in biocultural landscapes inside and neighbouring protected areas are being recognised for their potential contributions in this area. This session aimed to stimulate discussion and solicit suggestions regarding the significance of biocultural landscapes, MAB and other protected landscapes, customary uses of biodiversity, and the concept of socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS) as defined by the Satoyama Initiative.

This event was organised by others but featured an IIED partner and IIED work.

Related reading: Biocultural heritage website | Photofilm on Biocultural Heritage Territories

Governance and equity: how to achieve equitable management in Aichi 11

Venue: Dome Theatrette
Speakers: Nathan Bennett, University of British Colombia, Canada; Dominique Duval-Diop, RAMPAO Secretariat, Senegal; Michael Winer, Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, Australia; Michele Andrianarisata, Conservation International, Madagascar; Maurizio Ferrari, Forest Peoples Programme, UK; Phil Franks, IIED, UK. 

Governance as a determinant of equity in conservation. Exploring concepts and experience in strengthening governance in relation to social outcomes and their distribution.

This event was co-organised by IIED.

Related reading: Assessing the social impacts of protected areas | Linking Conservation, Equity and Poverty Alleviation | Designing REDD+ to promote sustainable development and reduce poverty

Contemplation of nature

 Saturday 15 November 
Speaker: Ajay Rastogi

This practical session involved learning techniques of contemplation of nature and discussion on the basic human need to connect with nature. As a biological organism the 'connect' as well as 'disconnect' with internal and external nature affects us deeply; though we may not recognise it consciously. The practice draws from some of the recent research in the field of psychology, neuroscience and biology. It's appropriate for a multicultural world for emotional bonding with the natural world without prejudices and biases. Contemplation of Nature is about cultivating mindfulness, a silence and a deep connection with oneself and the natural surroundings. This event comprised theoretical orientation followed with technique learning, a Q&A and a four-minute film on Biocultural Heritage Territories.

This event was organised by an IIED partner and featured IIED work.

Related reading: Biocultural heritage website | Photofilm on Biocultural Heritage Territories

Governance, sustainable use of wild resources and combating wildlife crime

Date: Saturday 15 November 
Speakers: Karine Nuulimba (IRDNC, Namibia), Mariana Montoya (WCS Peru, TBC), Andrew Agyare (Ghana Wildlife Division), Neema Pathak Broome (Kalpavriksh, India), Vivienne Solis (CoopeSolidar, Costa Rica), Duan Biggs (ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, University of Queensland, Australia), Johnson Masereka (Uganda Wildlife Authority), Melissa Vivacqua Rodrigues (Universidade de Sao Paolo, Brazil)

Use and trade of wild species – plants and animals – is a big issue in and around protected areas, which increasingly provide for various forms of traditional, recreational or commercial uses. At the same time illegal use – ranging from local subsistence use to armed poaching for transnational trade – is a large and growing problem worldwide. The goal of this workshop was to examine the importance of strengthening community resource rights and benefit-sharing for achieving sustainable and equitable use of wild species, and in particular combating the current global upsurge in wildlife crime. We explored governance approaches and mechanisms from terrestrial and marine contexts, shared experiences, and discussed implications for conservation policy at various scales.

This event was co-organised by IIED.

Related reading: Pro-poor responses to wildlife crime | The elephant in the room: sustainable use in the illegal wildlife trade debate

Traditional management systems in achieving national and international policy goals


Date: Saturday 15 November
Speakers: (including) Claudio Chiarolla (IDDRI), Alejandro Argumedo (ANDES, Peru), Yiching Song (CCAP)

This session considered the critical contribution of traditional resource management systems to biocultural heritage and biodiversity conservation, and their potential synergies with and limitations in the face of other approaches to meet national and international goals and targets in the areas of climate, biodiversity and development policy. It discussed not only how traditional resource management systems can contribute to reach those national or international objectives, but also the conditions under which national and international processes can help supporting those traditional management systems – or may impinge upon them. The example of the Potato Park Biocultural Heritage Territory and the Seed Park in China, was presented, along with a short film on Biocultural Heritage territories in Peru, China and India

This event was organised by others but featured an IIED partner and IIED work.

Related reading: Biocultural heritage website | Photofilm on Biocultural Heritage Territories

Advancing protected area governance in Africa

Date: Saturday 15 November

The purpose of this event was to advance the dialogue on good protected area governance in Africa, building on existing activities and models, and showcased through some representatives of African protected areas. In particular, the event discussed the outcomes and explore ways to advance the recommendations from the High-level Dialogue on Protected Area Governance for Improved Livelihoods and Biodiversity in Southern Africa, which took place in Namibia in May 2014 and which called for a new regional vision and strategy for improving the resilience of protected areas and governance systems in light of the challenges facing the region over the coming decade. The event helped further define and identify specific needs, actions and actors in advancing equitable and effective governance of protected areas on the African continent.

This event was organised by others but featured an IIED speaker or IIED work.

Related reading: Assessing the social impacts of protected areas

Protected areas, equity and poverty reduction: exploring concepts, linkages and priorities

Panel discussion
Date: Monday 17 November

With the growing concern over inequality in society at large, equity is now becoming more prominent not only in conservation discourse, but also as a central feature of discourse on green economy and sustainable development. Is this why the Aichi targets focus on equity rather than poverty reduction? Is this a significant change in emphasis or simply a matter of switching terms that essentially mean the same thing? Recent analysis and research suggests there is a real difference which is not well understood in either the conservation or development worlds. This event was an opportunity for informal discussion between people engaged in research on equity, poverty and PAs and conservation and development policymakers and practitioners who are trying to strengthen the linkages and better manage trade-offs.

This event was co-organised by IIED.

Related reading: Assessing the social impacts of protected areas  

Beyond Aichi 1: Space for Nature

Date: Monday 17 November
Speakers: Stephen Woodley (IUCN WCPA), Harvey Locke (Wild Foundation), Noëlle Kümpel (ZSL), Alienor Chauvenet (ZSL), Michelle Grady (Pew Global Ocean Legacy), Penny Figgis (IUCN WCPA Australia), Mark Spalding (TNC), Brendan Mackey (IUCN WCPA/Griffith University), Dilys Roe (IIED), Mark Mulligan (Kings College London/UNEP-WCMC), Jonathan Baillie (ZSL)

The aim of this session was to explore, in an interactive and participatory fashion, three dimensions of the question 'What space should we protect for nature post-2020?': 1. Public opinion – how much space do people feel should be allocated to nature, and what form would this take? 2. Scientific advice – how much nature do we need to protect, and where, in order to conserve the existence and utilitarian values and benefits that nature provides? 3. Political targets – what does this mean for informing the design and uptake of new targets for protected areas (PAs) beyond 2020? The session was informed by a global survey of public opinion carried out in advance of the session. The session then looked at how the values of protected areas may be eroded if current and emerging risks are not addressed, with advice to 'investors' with respect to ensuring persistence of each of the above values. There was a panel discussion with questions from the floor and via Twitter, finishing with a vote among session attendees and online participants to choose what scenario or combination of scenarios they want to see – i.e. how much space we should leave for nature and for what purpose.

This event was organised by others but featured an IIED speaker or IIED work.

Related reading: Pro-poor responses to wildlife crime | Agroecology: What it is and what it has to offer | Biocultural heritage website

Internationally agreed minimum standards for conservation

Date: Tuesday 18 November

IIED and Natural Justice are working with a dedicated team of indigenous and other lawyers and practitioners to review the body of international environmental and human rights law in order to identify a set of minimum standards for conservation – as currently enshrined in hard and soft law. The workshop was intended to review and discuss a draft guide that sets out these standards and provides practical guidance on how to uphold them. The guide will be targeted at: conservation actors (whether government, NGO or private sector) and will help them to clarify their human rights obligation, and indigenous peoples and local communities – clarifying their rights within a conservation context. We actively encouraged the participation of these target groups in the workshop towards: engendering productive dialogue between stakeholders; generating an in-depth understanding of the practical opportunities and obstacles that present themselves when implementing conservation on the ground; and receiving comments on the draft guide.

This event was co-organised by IIED.

Related reading: Human Rights Standards for Conservation: rights, responsibilities and redress

Social Assessment of Protected Areas

Date: Tuesday 18 November

The determination of progress against Aichi Target 11 in terms of effective and equitable management requires some assessment, however basic, of the social outcomes of protected areas (PAs). This event will focus on: (i) experience in simple, low cost methods to assess social outcomes of PAs of all governance types, and equity in their social outcome, that can be implemented by PA managers and their local partners; (ii) linkage of PA social assessment, governance assessment and management effectiveness evaluation. Convened by partners of the Social Assessment of Protected Areas (SAPA) Initiative, this capacity building event focusd on these two key issues with regard to conservation practitioners.

This event was co-organised by IIED.

Related reading: Assessing the social impacts of protected areas