- In situ conservation, sustainable use of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources are dependent upon properly maintaining sufficient natural habitat. Protected areas, together with conservation, sustainable use and restoration initiatives in the wider land-and seascape are essential components in national and global biodiversity conservation strategies. They provide a range of goods and ecological services while preserving natural and cultural heritage. They can contribute to poverty alleviation by providing employment opportunities and livelihoods to people living in and around them. In addition, they also provide opportunities for research including for adaptive measures to cope with climate change, environmental education, recreation and tourism. As a result, most countries have developed a system of protected areas. The protected-area network now covers about 11 per cent of Earth's land surface. Less than 1 per cent of the Earth's marine area is covered. The central role of protected areas in implementing the objectives of the Convention has been repeatedly emphasized in decisions of the Conference of Parties. They form a vital element of the various thematic programmes of work, namely, marine and coastal biological diversity, inland water ecosystems biological diversity, dry and sub-humid lands biological diversity, forest biological diversity and mountain biological diversity.
- Given their many benefits, protected areas are important instruments for meeting the Convention's targets of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. However, according to the best available data on the status and trends on protected areas (see UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/5), the current global systems of protected areas are not sufficiently large, sufficiently well-planned, nor sufficiently well-managed to maximize their contribution to biodiversity conservation. Therefore, there is an urgent need to take action to improve the coverage, representativeness and management of protected areas nationally, regionally and globally.
- The Convention on Biological Diversity works with many partner organizations, conventions and initiatives in facilitating conservation and sustainable use through protected areas. These include the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA); the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC); the International Maritime Organization (IMO); the World Resources Institute (WRI); The Nature Conservancy (TNC); the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); the UNESCO Man and Biosphere programme (MAB); the UNESCO World Heritage Convention; the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention); the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the associated agreements; the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); (EU) the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF); the Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Convention for Regulation of Whaling (ICRW); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); indigenous organizations, other stakeholders and industry; and various regional agreements and programmes.
- The present programme of work on protected areas features goals and activities that are specific to protected areas. Some elements of existing programmes of work on forests, inland waters, dry and sub-humid lands, coastal and marine and mountain biological diversity as well as the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and the Global Taxonomy Initiative also apply to protected areas. The goals and activities contained in these existing programmes of work should also be applied and implemented, as and whenever appropriate for their respective protected areas. Other relevant guidelines developed under cross-cutting issues of the CBD should also be taken into account when implementing the programme of work.
- The World Summit on Sustainable Development, in its Plan of Implementation, has stated that the achievement of the 2010 target requires new and additional financial and technical resources for developing countries, and that the progress in establishment and maintenance of a comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative global system of protected areas is of crucial importance for achieving the 2010 target. The WSSD also called for provision of financial and technical support for activities in this field, recognizing that funding for this purpose generally should consist of a mixture of national and international resources and include the whole range of possible funding instruments such as public funding, debt for nature swaps, private funding, remuneration from services provided by protected areas, and taxes and fees at the national level for the use of ecological services.
II. Overall purpose and scope of the programme of work
- The overall purpose of the programme of work on protected areas is to support the establishment and maintenance by 2010 for terrestrial and by 2012 for marine areas of comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected areas that collectively, inter alia through a global network  contribute to achieving the three objectives of the Convention and the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels and contribute to poverty reduction and the pursuit of sustainable development, thereby supporting the objectives of the Strategic Plan of the Convention, the World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals.
- The programme of work consists of four interlinked elements intended to be mutually reinforcing and cross-cutting in their implementation. It was developed bearing in mind the need to avoid unnecessary duplication with existing thematic work programmes and other ongoing initiatives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and to promote synergy and coordination with relevant programmes of various international organizations. Parties are encouraged to apply where appropriate the objectives and activities from these thematic work programmes and the work on cross-cutting issues.
- The Convention's work on protected areas takes into account the ecosystem approach. The ecosystem approach is the primary framework for action under the Convention, and its application will help reach a balance between the three objectives of the Convention. Multiple-use protected areas applied in an ecosystem approach context can, for example, help meet specific goals relating to conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The ecosystem approach provides a framework within which the relationship of protected areas to the wider landscape and seascape can be understood, and the goods and services flowing from protected areas can be valued. In addition, the establishment and management of protected area systems in the context of the ecosystem approach should not simply be considered in national terms, but where the relevant ecosystem extends beyond national boundaries, in ecosystem or bioregional terms as well. This presents a strong argument for and adds complexity to the establishment of transboundary protected areas and protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. Any work under this programme on marine and coastal protected areas should be consistent with decision VII/5 on Marine and Coastal biodiversity.
- The programme of work is intended to assist Parties in establishing national programmes of work with targeted goals, actions, specific actors, time frame, inputs and expected measurable outputs. Parties may select from, adapt, and/or add to the activities suggested in the current programme of work according to particular national and local conditions and their level of development. Implementation of this programme of work should take into account the ecosystem approach of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In implementing the programme of work, Parties are encouraged to pay due regard to the social, economic and environmental costs and benefits of various options. In addition, Parties are encouraged to consider the use of appropriate technologies, source of finance and technical cooperation, and to ensure, through appropriate actions, the means to meet the particular challenges and demands of their protected areas.
- The implementation of the programme of work will contribute to achieving the three objectives of the Convention.
/ A global network provides for the connections between Parties, with the collaboration of others, for the exchange of ideas and experiences, scientific and technical cooperation, capacity building and cooperative action that mutually support national and regional systems of protected areas which collectively contribute to the achievement of the programme of work. This network has no authority or mandate over national or regional systems.