REPORT: Marine Protected Areas: Smart Investments in Ocean Health
The analysis shows that every dollar invested to create marine protected areas – commonly known as MPAs – is expected to be at least tripled in benefits returned through factors like employment, coastal protection, and fisheries.
The new analysis is based on a WWF-commissioned study produced by Amsterdam’s VU University, modelling MPA expansion at both the 10 per cent and 30 per cent target levels. The report found that increased protection of critical habitats could result in net benefits of between US$490 billion and US$920 billion accruing over the period 2015-2050. WWF recommends 30 per cent global coverage of MPAs by 2030 in order to secure the most complete benefits for people and the ocean.
Existing protected areas in regions like the Mediterranean, the Coral Triangle and coastal Africa, demonstrate how people can benefit from increased ocean protection. Locally managed marine areas in Fiji demonstrate that MPAs can reduce poverty, strengthen governance and benefit human health and gender equality.
“Real-world examples prove that marine protected areas work; solid economic analysis shows that they are well worth it. Increasing investment in protected areas is a wise choice for communities, governments, businesses and financial institutions interested in the bottom-line and securing a sustainable blue economy,” said Lambertini.
This year is particularly important for the ocean. In September, governments will meet to agree on a set of goals as part of the UN post-2015 sustainable development agenda. WWF's analysis recommends that the agreement include strong targets and indicators for the ocean, and commitments to coherent policy, financing, trade and technology frameworks to restore and protect ocean ecosystems. The global climate conference later in the year to forge a new global agreement on climate change is another critical opportunity to commit the action, resources, and leadership necessary that can contribute to ocean health.
The new analysis on marine protected areas is among WWF ocean research under discussion at this week’s World Ocean Summit 2015. WWF’s participation at the event, organized by The Economist in Cascais, Portugal, highlights the need to safeguard the ocean’s health and economic well-being and that protecting ocean habitat is an essential foundation of the blue economy.