Webinar #8: Balancing social justice and conservation concerns in an era of expanded protected area targets

Webinar #8: Balancing social justice and conservation concerns in an era of expanded protected area targets

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are increasingly recognised across the world as an important strategy for protecting marine resources, conserving biodiversity, rebuilding threatened fish stocks and restoring degraded habitats. The value of MPAs has been discussed at various global gatherings such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 and the Fifth World Parks Congress in Durban in South Africa in 2003, as well as various Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meetings. Furthermore, several conservation and fisheries development agencies have also called for action to speed up the process of marine protection and have encouraged governments to establish MPAs and MPA networks. Various conventions, protocols and agreements, all recognise the importance of the conservation of coastal and marine resources and areas, but they also highlight the need to take account of the socio-economic and cultural rights and interests of local communities living in and adjacent to such areas. Governments are faced with calls to expand MPAs and establish a representative network of MPAs but also to address the potential impacts of MPA’s, on rights, livelihoods and social wellbeing of coastal communities. This webinar explores the tensions between efforts to manage existing and extend protected areas and requirements to respect rights and livelihoods of local communities living in and adjacent to such areas. It draws on cases from South Africa to illustrate some of the tensions and challenges on the ground and explores possible shifts – in thinking, values and approaches – required to move towards an approach to marine conservation that embraces social justice principles.