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François Simard is Deputy Director of IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme. He was instrumental in defining the aims, scope and program of the congress.
After Australia and the United States, this is IMPAC's third edition. The congress is now mature and widely recognized, with over 1,000 participants.
We have clear guidelines, as laid out by the world's governments in 2010: Aichi Target 11 states that by 2020, 10 percent of the oceans must be protected, and not only on paper. Now we need to design the instruments that will make this happen. This is what the congress is all about: it was designed from the bottom-up to address issues that arise on the field.
Day 2 (Day 1 being set aside for the opening ceremony) is dedicated to science and knowledge, and how they contribute to MPA creation and management. Science means biology, oceanography and taxonomy, but also sociology and ethnography: humans are not outside ecosystems, they are a part of them.
Day 3 is about management tools. This is the very core of the congress: defining tools that have practical value on the field. Field is to be understood in the wide sense: not only those who patrol MPAs but also all those who support them scientifically, legally, financially.
Day 4 zooms out to look at the role of the sea in human societies. Its resources are fundamental to industries such as fishing, oil extraction and mining. They must be part of any effort to develop ressources sustainably.
Day 5 takes another step back and focuses on networks at the regional scale. Science shows that ecosystems are interconnected – even distant ones. This fact must be reflected in management structures.
The Ministerial Conference is attended by a separate public of 200 high-level policy-makers: ministers, NGOs, international institutions. They will consider the outcomes of the congress and, we hope, build on them with new partnerships and new MPAs.