Highlights of IMPAC5 for 4 February 2023

The second day began with a daily welcome message from the Assistant Deputy Minister, Aquatic Ecosystem Sector, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Alexandra Dostal. The Director of the Ocean Division of the IUCN team Minna Epps also spoke at the morning session stressing the importance of protecting coasts and the high seas.

Other invited keynote speakers gave inspirational talks about their experiences and engagement in ocean resources management. One such person was Aulani Wilhelm, Senior Vice President for Oceans, Conservation International and serving at the US White House. I was moved by her strong persona on stage while talking and her firm grasp of the fundamental issues about oceans and how they must connect to humanity at large. She spoke about some positive examples of building marine protected areas (MPAs) globally, mainly through recognizing the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

Cristina Mittermeier, Conservationist, Sea Legacy, emphasized that the good story changes everything “because, without stories, the ocean dies in silence.” She underscored that “30 by 30” is not a magical number but a target and called upon Canada to create highly and fully protected MPAs. ( cited from Earth Bulletin)

The Oceans youth champion Ruth Mthembu shared her views on conserving and protecting the ocean and seeing it as the greatest unifier, reminding participants that protecting human well-being means taking care of the ocean. 

The Pacific participants then moved to various concurrent events unfolding at the Congress. These events are organized along specific themes of the conference. Protecting the ocean is a global priority. The ocean represents over 90 per cent of the living space for species on the planet, and a stable and healthy ocean is critical to billions of people worldwide. It generates oxygen, provides food security, climate resilience, and storm protection, preserves biodiversity, and creates cultural and economic opportunities for humankind.

The conference is therefore aligned to the following themes:

  • Building a global marine protected area network
  • Advancing conservation in the blue economy
  • Actively managing marine protected areas and human activity
  • Conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis
  • Connecting ocean, culture, and human well-being

Later in the afternoon, the BIOPAMA Project, funded by the E.U, hosted a special event showcasing experiences and lessons learned from across the globe. The session titled ‘From local to global data for biodiversity monitoring and conservation: Marine protected areas experiences in the BIOPAMA Programme.” Speakers at this session were from the Pacific, Caribbean, and African countries. 

Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut presented on the Pacific Islands protected area network portal, also called the PIPAP, sharing experiences and the tool’s usefulness to the Pacific. The portal is managed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme based in Apia, Samoa. 

Marine protected areas (MPAs) and other designations, such as Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMS), Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs)—particularly those with effective management and high levels of protection—are some of the most effective tools for protecting and restoring ocean health. Data and information available to help create, manage, and run such designated sites are very helpful in creating ecological, social, and economic benefits for the communities. Therefore, the Pacific is advantaged to have such committed work under the BIOPAMA program through the partnership of SPREP and IUCN. SPREP Protected Areas provides data analysis, support for national protected areas decision making, communication and awareness mostly facilitated by the PIPAP portal.