Area-based management tools are an essential part of the global effort to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal SDG 14, which addresses the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources. The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, scheduled to be adopted in 2022, is also expected include the goal of protecting at least 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030. This shows the importance of clarifying to what extent these measures – individually and in combination – can effectively contribute to the protection and sustainable use of the oceans. For this to happen, both synergies and trade-offs must be given special consideration.
Many conservation measures have synergistic effects
To understand how marine protected areas and other area-based management tools can contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its goals, an international research group including the IASS comprehensively evaluated technical literature and legal frameworks, and assessed the effectiveness of different measures. The research was conducted within the framework of the EU network project COST Action Ocean Governance for Sustainability.
"Measures that serve the regulation of fisheries, nature conservation or marine spatial planning show the greatest potential for achieving the sustainable development goals – if they are effectively implemented and interlinked," explains IASS research group leader Sebastian Unger, who, as co-author, was significantly involved in designing and conducting the study. The study was led by Elena Gissi, a scientist at the Institute of Marine Science, CNR ISMAR, in Italy and currently a visiting scientist at the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University in the USA.
The study shows that area-based conservation measures can have various impacts on the achievement of the targets of the individual SDGs. In addition to marine conservation, measures to regulate fishing activities, for example, also promote poverty reduction (SDG1), food security (SDG2) and climate action (SDG13). However, these cross-links are still too rarely taken into account in conservation designation and management practices, the researchers say. Using the Baltic Sea as an example, they show that instruments such as the "Special Areas”, provided for under MARPOL, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, can help shipping and port managers to adopt and implement new environmental standards. In doing so, they not only protect the marine environment – they also contribute significantly to innovation in the maritime industry and infrastructure (SDG 9).
Better coordination is needed
"The study shows that area-based management tools in the marine sector are of great importance for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Yet there are still not enough integrated and coordinated approaches: The measures are mostly defined specifically for one sector or one particular marine area and applied individually, without coordination and effective management. The latter, however, is important for achieving real success for the ocean and sustainability as a whole," says co-author Barbara Neumann, Senior Research Associate at the IASS.
However, she stresses that consistent coordination and cooperation between regional and international initiatives and the various instruments is not enough. For example, marine protected areas should not only be selected on the basis of ecological criteria such as species or ecosystems worthy of protection and combined to form coherent networks. Aspects such as the societal and political context, institutional structures and enforceability also need to be addressed to fully realise the potential of area-based management measures to implement the 2030 Agenda and its goals and targets, including the ocean goal SDG 14.
Gissi, E., Maes, F., Kyriazi, Z., Ruiz-Frau, A., Santos, C. F., Neumann, B., Quintela, A., Alves, F. L., Borg, S., Chen, W., da Luz Fernandes, M., Hadjimichael, M., Manea, E., Marques, M., Platjouw, F. M., Portman, M. E., Sousa, L. P., Bolognini, L., Flannery, W., Grati, F., Pita, C., Natașa Văidianu, Stojanov, R., van Tatenhove, J., Micheli, F., Hornidge, A.-K., Unger, S. (2022): Contributions of marine area-based management tools to the UN sustainable development goals. - Journal of cleaner production, 330, 129910.
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Related Data Article:
Gissi, E., Maes, F., Kyriazi, Z., Ruiz-Frau, A., Santos, C. F., Neumann, B., Quintela, A., Alves, F. L., Borg, S., Chen, W., da Luz Fernandes, M., Hadjimichael, M., Manea, E., Marques, M., Platjouw, F. M., Portman, M. E., Sousa, L. P., Bolognini, L., Flannery, W., Grati, F., Pita, C., Natașa Văidianu, Stojanov, R., van Tatenhove, J., Micheli, F., Hornidge, A.-K., Unger, S. (2022): Data about marine area-based management tools to assess their contribution to the UN sustainable development goals. – Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 330, 1 January 2022, 129910. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2021.107704