By Pilar Zapata, BIOFIN Chile
During the first week of September, over a thousand people arrived to the city of Coquimbo, located in northern Chile, to attend the International Marine Protected Areas Congress, IMPAC 4.
Authorities, administrators, scientists and local and international participants met to share experiences which contributed to strengthen the management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), to achieve more effective conservation of the marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, host 80% of the planet’s biodiversity and over three billion people depend on oceans and marine systems for their livelihoods.
Chile has one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. With over four thousand kilometres of coasts, its highly productive conditions are fostered by the Humboldt Current, which combines a variety of coastal ecosystems ranging from the desert coast in the north to the southern channels and glaciers.
“That vast body of water, which we have always seen from land, isn’t just that: the biodiversity which it hosts is huge, it supports life and it is strongly linked to what happens inland with our forests, inland waters, flora and fauna," said Diego Flores, Executive Secretary of the Congress and Chief of the Marine Protected Areas Department of the Ministry of Environment.
"It holds the life of our societies; the ocean is closely related to us, and that relationship was appreciated throughout this week in many of the conversations, panels, speeches and documentaries presented." he said.
Chile has over one million square kilometres of MPAs and the importance of proper and improved management of those areas was discussed heavily. Representatives of BIOFIN Cuba and Chile participated in a session about financing strategies to improve sustainability to these marine areas.
“We see the importance of combining the social, environmental and economic aspects. Our objective is to look at conservation from a more comprehensive point of view, since conservation and protected areas were only supported by environmentalists, but here we see the importance of working together to reach a level of awareness leading us to doable and sustainable goals”, said Miriam Rodríguez Garriga, from BIOFIN Cuba and Director of Social Budget of the Ministry of Finance and Prices in Cuba.
The solutions BIOFIN Chile discussed was around spending optimisation, diversification of resources to be accessed, and compensation payments.
“We have analysed the importance of developing market instruments and moving towards better cost-effective management, particularly in relation to the MPAs in Chile," said Andrea Cabezas Correa, Coordinator of BIOFIN Chile.
"As a country, we have a significant amount of protected areas, however we need to move towards their sustainable implementation, which requires the comprehensive work of diverse actors, including state entities and the civil society."
IMPAC 4 concluded with the signing of a Call for Action to protect the oceans of the world, a document which was already supported by seven countries, as well as by UNDP Chile, FAO and UNESCO. This commitment recognises the importance of MPAs as tools for the protection of biodiversity for local economies and communities’ livelihoods. This document also contributes to the accomplishment of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).