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International Marine Protected Areas Congress 5

The Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) began through a colorful opening ceremony held yesterday, 3 February, in Vancouver, Canada, to a packed capacity at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The Congress converges the world’s leading ocean conservation professionals to chart a course towards protecting 30 percent of the global ocean by 2030. The international Marine Protected Areas Congresses (IMPAC) is also an opportunity for the global community of marine conservation managers and practitioners to exchange knowledge, experience, and best practices to strengthen marine biodiversity conservation and protect the natural and cultural heritage of the ocean.

The Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) 3-9 Vancouver, Canada

Scientists, government officials, NGO experts on marine protected areas, the private sector, development partners, indigenous peoples and local communities, academics, youths, and many other interested groups from 123 countries are in attendance at the Congress.

The Congress is a collaborative effort between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which I work for at the Oceania Regional Office (ORO), and the host country, Canada. The IUCN ORO has sponsored six young professionals to attend the IMPAC5 through kind financial assistance from the BIOPAMA Project of the European Union. These young professionals are from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Papua New Guinea. They were chosen through a merit-based competitive selection process to participate, network, learn and share their experiences at IMPAC5. We are also scheduled to present at the ‘special knowledge session’ on the recently launched ‘State of the Protected Areas in the Pacific’ by IUCN ORO in partnership with the theme ‘conserving our sea of islands in the Pacific.’

Welcoming and addressing the participants at the opening, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honorable Joyce Murray, highlighted the responsibility to fight nature and biodiversity loss. Hon Murray said, “Canada is committed to protecting 25 per cent of its marine and coastal areas by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.” International leaders committed to the 30 per cent target in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, recently adopted at the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal in December 2022.

“The need to address the crisis of biodiversity loss in our oceans and marine ecosystems is urgent, and Canada is proud to be leading the way. By setting ambitious conservation targets and taking the concrete action needed to end and reverse these losses, we are demonstrating our commitment to protecting our oceans today and creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

The highlight of the colorful opening session was the participation of the Indigenous Peoples, who have always held important roles in protecting and stewarding the world ocean. Upholding and respecting Indigenous perspectives, voices, and knowledge from around the world will be key characteristics of IMPAC5. The host First Nations – xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) shared the beautiful and strong message of their rich traditional hold of the closeness with nature, oceans and its peoples.

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