What do gorillas, turtles, humpback whales, orang-utans and monk seals have in common? They are all beneficiaries of the Spain-UNEP Partnership. Recognizing the importance of Protected Areas as a key tool for resource management and biodiversity conservation, the Government of Spain has initiated a strategic partnership with UNEP to provide €5 million to improve the impact and effectiveness of both new and existing Protected Areas, through direct management support and enhanced enabling conditions, such as support to policy processes, stakeholder participation and increased awareness of the benefits for livelihoods and ecosystems.
The Spain-UNEP Partnership for Protected Areas, in support of LifeWeb, builds on the existing LifeWeb Initiative platform launched at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2008. Given the link to the larger LifeWeb Initiative and the proposed activities, this Partnership provides a unique opportunity to contribute to both the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas and the UNEP Programme of Work through key interventions at specific Protected Area sites and through policy-level support.
This Partnership takes into consideration key issues affecting Protected Areas in low income countries and least developed countries (LDCc) such as sustainability, lack of capacity and governance. It works within both the CBD and UNEP framework to improve the viability of these critical conservation mechanisms. The Spain-UNEP Partnership for Protected Areas is structured around two key objectives:
- To improve the management of existing Protected Areas and
- To increase the network of Protected Areas by either extending existing Protected Areas or creating new Protected Areas
While much of the Partnership is focused on direct support, it is recognized that without improving the enabling conditions to strengthen management and increasing networks, key challenges such as sustainability will not be adequately addressed. All interventions will adopt a policy approach focusing on reviewing, refining and developing policy and management approaches that are directly linked with the overall LifeWeb Initiative strategy.
Furthermore, the Partnership recognizes the social and economic value of biodiversity for local communities as the basis for traditional livelihoods and the generation of services and products, and hence socio-economic development. The Partnership also recognizes the significant added-value that local communities contribute to protected area activities.