Expanding Marine Protected Area networks

The world's leaders have recognized the vital role that Marine Protected Areas play in safeguarding marine ecosystems and local economies. We are working to ensure they keep their MPA commitments.

Governments have made commitments

Marine and coastal management is not a new concept. For centuries, communities have closed areas by tradition or law to protect their resources and livelihoods. 

But it’s only recently that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have entered the international political arena, with governments making commitments to expand the area under protection in their national waters

For example, one of the few commitments made by world leaders at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 was to address the current inadequate protection of our oceans and coasts by creating representative networks of MPAs by 2012.

In 2010, governments gathered in Japan at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting agreed to a biodiversity rescue plan, that includes marine protected areas covering at least 10% of our oceans by 2020. Four years later, the 6th IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney recommended that ocean protection is urgently increased and up to at least 30% of its total area.

We are helping to meet them

To meet these commitments, WWF's Global Marine Programme helps governments and local communities identify those critical places that are in urgent need for protection in order to secure food security and livelihoods.

WWF has decades of experience working with fishermen, local communities, tourism operators for implementing best practices including participatory management of MPAs.

We also cooperate with researchers to advance the science of how to design networks of MPAs so that they provide the maximum benefit for people and for biodiversity.

We have identified several priority marine habitats for protection, including: 
Our long-term goal is to achieve comprehensive, adequate and ecologically representative networks of well-managed MPAs to ensure sustainable marine futures, especially for those coastal communities who most depend on it.

30 years of results

WWF has been working on marine conservation for over 30 years. We have helped achieve protection for marine areas in 21 regions around the world, from locally managed areas in the Pacific and the Western Indian Ocean to larger areas such as the Coral Triangle and the Arctic.

In all cases, these successes have been due to strong partnerships including local communities, governments, NGOs, and research institutions, all working together towards a common vision to conserve marine ecosystems and the resources they support.

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