Marine Protected Areas Forum

26 Nov 2012

Opening Remarks for Mr. Shahid Najam
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey
26 November 2012, Antalya

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Respected Representatives of Government Agencies,
Esteemed Marine Protected Area Managers,
Distinguished members of Academia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a matter of great honour and privilege for me to speak to this distinguished gathering of experts, scholars and senior reperesentatives of government who represent all the key partners from Mediterranean region and have gathered together to share their experiences and insights and to enrich the substantive work of the network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean.

Let me start by expressing my profound gratitude and acknowledgement to the Network of Managers of Marine Protected Areas in Mediterranean (MedPAN) and its partners, the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), for the organization of Marine Protected Areas Forum in Antalya, Turkey.
 
The Government of Turkey, particularly the General Directorate for Protection of Natural Assets, also deserve special recognition for their commitment and contribution to MPA Forum and their longstanding partnership with United Nations Development Programme ioon the marine biodiversity conservation and enhancing marine and coastal system in Turkey.


Ladies and gentlemen,

For thousands of years, the Mediterranean region has been the cradle of many civilizations; the hearth of trade, transport and cultural exchange between diverse people and communities; interaction point of value systems, religions, languages and continents. Being the homeland of the first human settlements, world ruling empires and one of the hotspots of global biodiversity, the Mediterranean symbolized  a unique combination of  great heritage of man kind, the bewitchingly beautiful landscapes of the earth, the crystal clear waters of Mediterranean Sea and the fabulous and  finest beaches in the world.

Ill luck would have it, despite its rich biodiversity and cultural importance, the Mediterranean Sea is subject to intense human pressure thereby denuding it of its inherent treasure and asset of resource endowment. As you will agree, the sustainable solution lies, among others, in the establishment and effective management of the Marine Protected Areas.

The success of marine and biodiversity conservation, however, to a large extent depends on networking, not only at national level but also regional and international levels. It is therefore, heartening that this MPA Forum brings together all the stakeholders in the Mediterranean (and even beyond) to increase understanding of status and challenges of marine protected areas networks and aims at serving as a forum for sharing knowledge, information and experiences on protecting and sustainable use of the marine resources and ecosystems.

It is also very encouraging that all the Mediterranean countries are committed to implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity, through the Barcelona Convention and its Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean. This Forum provides an excellent opportunity to review the progress of the Mediterranean MPA network developed over the last years, and establish a common vision for 2020 in order to meet marine conservation challenges in the region.

MPAs indeed offer a range of benefits for the people, the marine environment and fisheries. They provide services to local communities who depend on the seas and its resources; increasing food security; reducing poverty; and opening new incompe earning opportunities. By establishing MPAs, we can also restore the balance in the use of seas, safeguarding valuable fish stocks and important habitats while providing long-term solutions for the livelihood of the local communities.

Marine protected areas, and particularly no-take zones, are very effective in allowing regeneration of fish stocks. The global biodiversity targets set in Nagoya in 2010 aim to have 10% of the planet’s marine and coastal areas under some kind of protection by 2020, a massive step up from the 1.17% of the oceans currently protected. UNDP is working hard to promote solutions which protect fisheries while supporting alternative livelihoods for communities traditionally dependent on fishing.

As you remember, it was only 5 months ago, in June, when more than 40,000 people attended the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20. This was by far the largest ever UN gathering, and culminated in the adoption by 193 UN member states of the outcome document titled “The Future We Want”.

The political commitment of the governments to sustainable development was renewed and strengthened. It was acknowledged that sustainable development is as much about protecting the environment as it is about creating jobs, eliminating inequities, and reducing poverty.

It was also stressed that healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture have crucial role for food security and nutrition and in providing for the livelihoods of millions of people.

As it is stated in Rio outcome document “Future We Want”, conservation and sustainable use of marine ecosystems contribute to poverty eradication, sustained economic growth, food security and creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work, while at the same time protecting biodiversity and the marine environment and addressing the impacts of climate change.

I believe that this MPA Forum will help governments to fulfill their commitments to protect, and restore the health, productivity and resilience of marine ecosystems and to maintain their biodiversity. It will also catalyze actions and outline the steps required to make tangible progress in advancing the marine biodiversity agenda and culminate in articulating   and crafting a common vision for 2020.

Allow me to end by expressing you all the very best in your endeavours and resolve to protect the Mediterranean Sea and contribute to a sustainble future for our planet earth.

Thank you…