Capacity development for protected areas management is a top priority for conservationists, and also a major challenge. In Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, many protected areas do not achieve their objectives of conserving key species, ecosystems and services, due to limited human and institutional capacity; particularly to access and use information to improve decision making. BIOPAMA is responding to this challenge by developing capacity for protected area management through work at the regional level, and through wider collaboration with a range of global actors and local actors to develop and share best practices.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) calls on initiatives such as BIOPAMA “to align capacity-building so as to further support implementation of national action plans for the programme of work on protected areas, and to continue to develop technical guidance to achieve the full scope of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11”. BIOPAMA aims to enhance the work of existing institutions and networks, and build capacity to improve protected area management and biodiversity conservation policy and decision-making.
The geographical, political, and social contexts we are operating in across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific are quite different; hence there can be no one-size-fits-all approach. Each region has a particular combination of challenges and opportunities. Different approaches and capacity building programmes have been tailored by IUCN for each of the BIOPAMA regions:
The BIOPAMA Capacity Development Programme in West and Central Africa focuses on improving the management of protected areas, which is the main objective of the Observatory and the Aichi target 11. This program follows a "coaching" approach for the site managers, to improve decision-making in the planning and the management performance. A group of regional coaches is formed on the management of protected areas, the Observatory information system and peers coaching. All the necessary knowledge resources for the coaches and beneficiaries are available in a toolkit, the COMIT (Coach Observatory Mission Toolikt Information).
The focus of the BIOPAMA Capacity Building Action Plan is to build capacity to address protected area/land resource use conflicts, with a particular emphasis on better planning and integration of Protected Areas and biodiversity within key development sectors, including extractive industries, infrastructure development, agriculture (both commercial and small-scale) and fisheries. The emphasis of the capacity development through the BIOPAMA Programme is on supporting cross-sectoral dialogue through improved negotiation skills. This is implemented in three ways: 1) negotiation capacity development during dialogue sessions, 2) Formal training of PA managers and stakeholders and 3) working with Training Institutions in the Eastern and Southern African region to include negotiation training in the curriculum for PA managers in future. The first two are aimed at “on-the-job” training at local and policy level and the third one at a more sustainable longer-term approach. In addition, plans are in the pipeline to develop online training materials that will be made available to trainers across the region for use in their respective context.
BIOPAMA capacity building efforts in the Caribbean will focus on enhancing the professional development and networking of protected area staff and practitioners; and providing technical and advisory support for country-level implementation of the NBSAP and PoWPA. Opportunities to collaborate and forge partnerships with existing regional agencies, institutions, initiatives and programmes will be essential part of these efforts as BIOPAMA works to minimize duplication and maximize impact. Details of the action plan can be found here.
In the Pacific, and in collaboration with Protected Area Working Group partners, BIOPAMA is taking the lead responsibility for developing the Pacific Islands Region Strategy and Action Plan for Capacity Development in Protected and Other Conserved Areas 2015-2020. The strategy and action plan will be closely aligned with key principles and directions being established under a new global capacity development framework by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), but tailored to specifically address the distinctive issues, needs and opportunities that occur in the Pacific region. The strategy and action plan are available at this link.
The Strategic Framework for Capacity Development in Protected Areas and Other Conserved Territories 2015-2025 (SFCD), developed by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is the result of a widespread programme of activities and consultations during 2013 and 2014, culminating in the World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia in November 2014. The SFCD is intended to complement, guide, and extend the recommendations on capacity development included in the Promise of Sydney that resulted from the Congress, with BIOPAMA significant support.
The SFCD defines three related, priority focal groups for capacity development for the coming decade: protected area institutions and personnel, landscape and seascape stewards, and influencers, and four main global programmes: 1) professionalization; 2) indigenous peoples and local communities; 3) enabling protected area capacity development, and; 4) evaluation of capacity development. Elements of these four programmes will form part of all regional capacity development strategies for BIOPAMA. Read the strategy here