Area expansion versus effective and equitable management in international marine protected areas goals and targets
This paper draws on the published literature on marine protected areas (MPAs) and marine protected areas targets to argue that the MPA target (14.5) will dominate in the pursuit, measurement, and evaluation of the much broader ‘oceans’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG14) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2015. MPAs are a ‘privileged solution’ in marine conservation, in part because their expansion is relatively easy to measure and there is opportunity for further expansion in the mostly unprotected global ocean. However, the evolution of MPA targets over time in organizations like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) illustrates the importance of other means for achieving conservation and of elements other than area coverage, including the need to ensure MPAs are effectively and equitably managed. By excluding these important, but contested, complex, and difficult to measure components, Target 14.5 is likely to be met. However, the meaning of this success will be limited without concerted efforts get beyond area coverage.
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