IEEP at the Monaco Blue Initiative 2019
IEEP’s Mia Pantzar attended the 10th edition of the Monaco Blue Initiative in Monte Carlo last week, hosted by Prince Albert II. The event was dedicated to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and on one of the panels, Mia shared insights of IEEP’s previous and ongoing work related to protecting the ocean.
IEEP works on a range of topics related to trying to remove barriers to effective and robust MPAs. One such barrier is a recurring fear that MPAs are incompatible with local socio-economic interests and development. In a two-year research project for the European Commission's DG MARE, IEEP collated and analysed the evidence of market-based economic benefits from MPAs in Europe in a comprehensive literature review. Together with project partners ICF and PML, we also helped to further develop an understanding of these impacts through field case studies and in-depth interviews. The project results show that although the amount of empirical evidence is limited, European MPAs can help support and generate local jobs and income under the right conditions, for instance in dive tourism and artisanal static gear fishing. In the most successful examples, active, transparent and inclusive MPA management acts as a cluster to help catalyse sustainable economic activities in the wider economy and inspire resource users to become ambassadors for sustainable practices. Identifying and communicating the values of healthy ecosystems can help build stakeholder buy-in and support the establishment and effective enforcement of robust protection measures. We hope that our previous and continuing work on this topic can contribute to a more balanced view of the role of MPAs to coastal communities.
A second important barrier facing MPAs is a lack of funds and reliable sources of finance. A lack of staff and resources is frequently identified as the primary factor causing MPAs to fail, as it affects the enforcement of rules, monitoring of impacts and ultimately the ecological effectiveness of sites. IEEP is working on different projects trying to close this funding gap, for instance by assisting national authorities in identifying their funding needs for protected areas and suitable sources of funding. We have helped develop guidance for traditional funding mechanisms and explored the use of more innovative options, such as payments for ecosystem services.
A third barrier is a frequent underestimation of the benefits of nature in general, including the marine environment. The established view of MPAs and nature conservation is too narrow. As one example, we need to better understand and learn to appreciate the climate-mitigating values of MPAs. The health-related benefits of nature protection is another example, and one where IEEP has done research in the past, including the role of nature in addressing physical and mental health challenges. IEEP is working on the integration of the concept of ecosystem services into European policy and decision-making, trying to ensure that the variety of values of nature is at the heart of our strategies for the future.
Looking ahead, IEEP will continue to support ambitious science-based policies related to the marine environment. We also hope to work more closely with other marine stakeholder groups, including private sector and local fora. These stakeholders are often the source of innovative and custom-made solutions which are necessary to accelerate change. Each MPA is unique, as is any group of people involved in its management, living in its proximity or using its resources. Successful MPAs require site-specific solutions with strong local support.
In parallel, it is important for all stakeholders – researchers, policy makers and resource users – to acknowledge that MPAs are part of a matrix of necessary instruments and that all ocean must be used sustainably without risking the resilience of other species or ecosystems.
Coverage of the 2019 Monaco Blue Initiative was provided by IISD and a summary of the event can be found here: http://enb.iisd.org/download/pdf/sd/enbplus186num16e.pdf.
For more information about IEEP’s marine work, please contact Mia Pantzar, Daniela Russi or Andrew Farmer. You will find more information about individual pieces of our work on our marine and biodiversity pages.
Images: Head picture, Monaco Blue Initiative -0308 ©Cedou. Group picture, ©M_Dagnino - Institut océanographique