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France is hosting the third edition of the International Marine Protected Areas Congress, after Australia in 2005 and the United States in 2009.
In October 2005, The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Parks Victoria initiated the very first International MPA Conference in Geelong, Australia. It sought to define a typology of Marine Protected Areas and to review the state of marine ecosystems.
Then in 2009, IMPAC2 was hosted in Washington, D.C., by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (NOAA-ONMS). It witnessed the rising relevance of public agencies in creating and managing MPAs.
Today, the French ministry in charge of the environment has commissioned the Agence des aires marines protégées to co-organize, together with IUCN, the next edition of the Congress, in two symbolic Mediterranean locations: Marseille and Corsica.
IMPAC3 aims to reach out beyond the circle of MPA management agencies and involve all stakeholders, whether governmental, non-governmental or corporate. Protecting 10 percent of the Ocean’s surface by 2020, as required by the Conference on Biological Diversity (CBD), necessarily involves transnational, cross-sector cooperation.
IMPAC1 (Geelong, Australia, 2005)
Jon Day, IMPAC1 Manager, in Geelong, Australia, October 2005. © GBRMPA - Parks Victoria
Aboriginal musicians at the opening of IMPAC1, Geelong. © GBRMPA - Parks Victoria
In 2002 it was suggested that Australia should host an international congress to assist MPA managers and practitioners to exchange ideas and learn from others. An organizing committee, led by Parks Victoria and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, set about to promote and plan the first International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC1).
Such an international event had never previously been held, so there was considerable uncertainty throughout the planning stages, but IMPAC1 finally came together. The Congress proved to be a highly successful and timely event attended by many of the world’s leading MPA practitioners, policy makers and marine scientists. It provided an excellent opportunity for effective interaction and learning, aided by a number of enjoyable social activities and field trips.
At its conclusion there was overwhelming opinion that a regular (approximately 4 yearly) series should occur, for the sake of lasting cooperation. This was the basis for the follow-up IMPAC events in Washington and Marseille. The Congress in Geelong also proved inspirational for national policies, for instance by lending momentum to the French effort to establish their own MPA Agency.
Director, Planning, Heritage and Sustainable Funding
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
IMPAC2 (Washington, D.C., 2009)
NOAA stand at IMPAC2, Washington, D.C., May 2009. © NOAA
Passing of the torch between IMPAC2 and IMPAC3 organizers, Washington, D.C. © NOAA
IMPAC2 was always a long shot that even up to the last minute we weren't certain we'd be able to pull off, with the limitations we were facing in 2009. But everything came together for an amazing experience and the best possible meeting that we could provide for the international MPA community. The accomplishment coming from IMPAC2 of which I am most pleased was the establishment of the MPA Agency Partnership, a coming together of 16 MPA agencies from around the world, which started in February 2012 and continues to work together today. Most of all, I am proud to be part of an MPA legacy that began with the innovation of IMPAC1 in Australia in 2005 and now continues with the impending arrival of IMPAC3 later this year.
Chief of Staff, International Activities
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries