Peace and Biodiversity Dialogue Initiative


Massive Open Online Course on Peace Park Development and Management

Are you interested in exploring the intersection between biodiversity conservation and community peacebuilding? Would you like to know how to establish a Peace Park using innovative methods based on the most contemporary research and projects actually taking place on the ground? Do you want to become more skilled at tackling the challenges of Peace Park management?

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Peace and Biodiversity Dialogue Initiative in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme invites you to learn how to do just that in our Massive Open Online Course on Peace Park Development and Management. This free course is offered in five languages: English, French, Russian, Spanish and Arabic. Financial support is provided by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Peace and Biodiversity Dialogue Initiative funded by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea.

This course will:

• offer a comprehensive guide on Peace Park establishment;

• teach participants to make a strong case for Peace Park development;

• develop the skills to effectively plan, establish and manage Peace Parks;

• address the challenges associated with the creation and management of these transboundary protected areas.

The course already attracted about 750 participants from 128 countries. This innovative course was aimed at peace park development practitioners and environmental peacebuilding enthusiasts but was open to everyone. Participants were highly engaged in the course, resulting in a completion rate of 25.14% (three times the industry average) and more than 1,200 engagements on the course forums.

Out of 262 survey respondents, 73% are able to influence policy in their job, and 97% of those participants will use their learnings from the course to influence policy in the future. 98% of all the participants were satisfied or highly satisfied with their learning experience across all five languages. Overall, the evaluation of the course shows that the course provided a key mechanism to build the capacity of biodiversity policymakers and practitioners and increase awareness about how conservation and environmental peacebuilding can go hand-in-hand.

The course focused on building the skills needed to make a strong case for peace park establishment by providing learners with the guidelines to effectively plan, manage and monitor a peace park. Week 1 served as an introduction to peace parks. Week 2 provided a step-by-step guide for developing and maintaining a peace park, and Week 3 analyzed ways to address the challenges associated with the creation and management of a peace park and explore solutions-based insights from projects taking place on the ground.

The course experts taught that the cornerstone of many solutions to peace park development and communication issues is the culture of dialogue. During the Week 3, participants learned five stages of dialogue development and discussed: why dialogue important is; how dialogue differs from—and complement—other processes; in what areas can dialogue make a difference; what some essential lessons are for establishing dialogue for policymakers. The course reached its ultimate objective - to build a community of practice around peace park development and management.

Weekly webinars featured experts from UNDP, the Peace Parks Foundation, Environmental Law Institute, University of Waterloo, Canada, and Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, among other prominent institutions.

The course room is now transformed into a stand-alone module, and the self-paced module will stay open indefinitely, and people will keep using the course resources. Registration link: click here.

The Secretariat has also developed additional concise learning modules which take approximately an hour each, providing an overview of key terms, concepts, resources, and approaches. To access the module “Transboundary protected areas and regional networks”, other online courses as well as exercises, additional learning materials, and discussion forums, click here.

International boundary areas often contain large, intact and remote ecosystems. Yet because they are dissected by international boundaries, these areas are often subject to different and incompatible management and land-use practices.

This module covers aspects related to transboundary protected areas and regional networks, including the establishment, planning, management, assessment of transboundary areas as well as the lessons "Guidelines for managing tension and armed conflict". See a sample below.

There are some issues in management of transboundary protected areas, such as conflict, that require special attention. Conflicts between countries often occur along international boundaries in remote areas, exactly the places where transboundary protected areas are often located.

Transboundary protected areas may also involve the removal of international boundary fences, further heightening security and safety concerns. In some cases, there may be on going disputes about who owns land, either between countries (border disputes) or within countries (land tenure disputes).

Transboundary protected area managers should develop plans for emergency situations, including armed conflict. This may include developing environmental guidelines related to rules of military engagement, agreement to follow international conventions on environmental and humanitarian issues, and identifying high-priority areas within the transboundary protected area that are considered demilitarized zones under the Geneva Convention.

If armed conflict does arise, protected area authorities should appeal to all parties to respect the agreements of the transboundary protected area, and to abide by international conventions. Where armed conflict threatens internationally-protected biodiversity, protected area authorities may also appeal for international sanctions.

There are a number of international conventions on environmental and humanitarian issues to which governments may appeal. These include instruments for the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity across boundaries (e.g., Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar Convention, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals); instruments concerning respect for human rights (e.g., ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Indigenous Countries, Universal Declaration of Human Rights); and instruments prohibiting environmentally damaging means of warfare (e.g., Convention on the Prohibition of Military of any other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques; IUCN Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Hostile Military Activities in Protected Areas).

If a transboundary protected area becomes a designated area for housing refugees or displaced people, the protected area authority should cooperate closely with outside agencies, such as the UN High Commission on Refugees, to minimize impacts.

After tensions and armed conflicts subside, there will likely be a need for restoration and rehabilitation. These plans should be developed by local and national government agencies, in close collaboration with local communities. The priority should be to restore habitats of rare, threatened and endangered species, and to biodiversity elements that are critical to the overall functioning and integrity of the system, such as corridors.