World gears up to boost ocean protection as global congress opens in Chile

Protecting the ocean from growing threats so that it can continue to feed communities around the world is the focus of the Fourth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC4), hosted by Chile’s Ministry of the Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), opening today in La Serena, Chile.

Fishermen in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka Photo: © Valerie Batselaere

The Chile congress highlights the relevance of ocean conservation to communities.

The Congress aims to improve the way we protect and manage the most diverse and productive areas of the ocean, as an imperative for marine life and for future generations. It will focus on the relationship between Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and global change, the relevance of ocean conservation to communities, and successful marine management strategies.

“Faced with critical threats to its health from climate change and over-exploitation, the ocean urgently needs protection. This Congress is a key opportunity to continue improving and expanding marine protection, notably close to coastal communities, where they can deliver food security and other benefits,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme.

During the event, IUCN will announce progress made towards meeting global marine protection targets. The Union will also launch a number of MPA publications and a new film on the scientific importance of seamounts, or underwater mountains.

The Congress will bring together decision-makers, including Ministers of the Environment from several countries, who will analyse ways to combine the management of MPAs with progress towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 – "to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

"With this event, and the legacy of both marine and terrestrial protected areas that Chile has cemented under the administration of President Michelle Bachelet, our country is taking the lead in protecting our oceans worldwide," says Chilean Minister of Environment and Co-Chairman of IMPAC 4, Marcelo Mena. "People are at the center of management measures and the protection of ecosystems and the environment. Having successful MPAs ensures that biodiversity conservation effectively projects benefits towards people."

IMPAC 4 will highlight the intricate nature of the relationship between the ocean and communities worldwide, and the benefits that marine protected areas provide to millions of people.

“IMPAC congresses help the marine conservation community to develop tools and strategies to face future challenges,” says Dan Laffoley, Principal Advisor on Marine Science and Conservation for IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme and Marine Vice-Chair for the World Commission on Protected Areas. “But this event is also about empowering youth and future leaders in the conservation community – and expanding that community as far as possible.” 

The Congress is expected to bring together 1,000  scientists, decision-makers, marine protected area experts and public  figures from around the world, including  HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International, and Sylvia Earle, renowned oceanographer of Mission Blue / the Sylvia Earle Alliance.

The meeting, which is organised by the Ministry of the Environment of Chile and IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, will conclude on 9 September with the signature of a “call for action for the oceans” in the city of Viña del Mar, Chile.

For more information visit the IMPAC4 website.  For more information on IUCN’s work on oceans see here

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