Marine Protected Areas: our allies in good ocean governance and climate change mitigation | WWF
Marine Protected Areas: our allies in good ocean governance and climate change mitigation

Posted on 29 September 2020

Concrete actions are urgently needed to bring true protection and restoration to our ocean.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are scientifically demonstrated to fight both the climate and biodiversity crises. Not only do they alleviate the negative effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, capture carbon, protect coastlines from erosion and reduce water acidification, they also constitute vital sanctuaries for many threatened species. In turn, they support our communities by contributing to food security and safeguarding the landscapes many of us call home. However, poor management and lack of sound planning of our seas continue to render the vast majority of MPAs to mere lines on a map. To ensure the resilience of our ocean in the face of unprecedented changes, it is imperative for the EU to deliver on its commitment to marine protection, setting a global precedent that will ultimately benefit both people and planet.

WWF has created two fact sheets which present the values of MPAs to help mitigate the climate crisis and deliver good governance of our seas. 
 

The climate crisis brings unprecedented threats to our planet and its ocean

MPAs are scientifically demonstrated to be efficient and cost-effective tools for alleviating the impacts of climate change and human pressures, reinforcing ecosystem resilience and  improving the capacity of habitats to act as a blue carbon sink. As such, they directly contribute to the achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Life Below Water. However, to be resilient to the impacts of climate change, MPAs need to be based on scientific criteria and follow good ocean governance. Lack of effective management in areas designated for protection continues to deliver many Paper Parks — where governments have declared their intentions for MPAs, but not followed up with tangible action on the ground or in the water to effectively restore and protect these areas. Policy solutions for our ocean must work together in a cohesive and collaborative way, complementing the overall reduction of harmful emissions and supporting shared actions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as required by the Paris Agreement.

 

Only effectively implemented MPAs can support sustainable ocean governance

European seas are among the most intensely used in the world. This challenges the goals of good ocean governance, which aim for the sustainable use of our ocean. Effectively designed and managed MPAs reinforce ocean resilience and productivity by conserving and restoring marine biodiversity. It’s been demonstrated that well-managed MPAs cater to the needs of both nature and people. The role thriving biodiversity plays in supporting ocean resilience and of the services the ocean provides to people must be recognised.



 
To be resilient to the impacts of climate change, MPAs need to be based on scientific criteria and follow good ocean governance. Lack of effective management in areas designated for protection continues to deliver many Paper Parks — where governments have declared their intentions for MPAs, but not followed up with tangible action on the ground or in the water to effectively restore and protect these areas. Policy solutions for our ocean must work together in a cohesive and collaborative way, complementing the overall reduction of harmful emissions and supporting shared actions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as required by the Paris Agreement.

In addition, as part of good ocean governance, properly implemented ecosystem-based Marine Spatial Plans will guide the management of our marine areas towards more sustainable practices. The use of our shared sea space must ensure that we do not overexploit this already degraded environment any further.