New Direction for Capacity Development in Protected Areas over Next 10 Years

2 August 2015

A new strategy intended to support the recommendations on capacity development included in the Promise of Sydney that resulted from the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 (IUCN WPC) has been completed. The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Strategic Framework for Capacity Development in Protected Areas and other Conserved Territories 2015-2025 (SFCD) is the result of a widespread programme of activities and consultations during 2013 and 2014 culminating in the IUCN WPC 2014.

The Capacity Development strategy is to develop and implement a legacy of protected areas capacity development programmes and products that will assist countries to more effectively and equitably manage their systems of protected areas and enhance their ability to meet their commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Aichi Targets.

The Strategic Framework for Capacity Development in Protected Areas and other Conservation Territories 2015-2025 (SFCD) briefly describes the current situation concerning protected area capacity development, identifies major capacity development issues that need to be addressed over the next decade, and recommends pathways, goals, and objectives for future action. It defines three related, priority focal groups for capacity development for the coming decade: protected area institutions and personnel, landscape and seascape stewards, and influencers, and four main global programmes:  professionalization, indigenous peoples and local communities, enabling protected area capacity development, and evaluation of capacity development. 

The leading IUCN Capacity development initiatives supporting the overall objectives of this theme are the BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management) programme, the World Heritage Capacity Development Programme and the Environmental Law Centre Capacity Development Programme. 

With a significant capacity development component, aiming at enhancing the work of existing institutions and networks, and build capacity to improve protected area management and biodiversity conservation policy and decision-making, the BIOPAMA programme has offered opportunities to develop and test the best approaches and tools that led to a more strategic IUCN WCPA capacity development programme.

More than being a key partner in its development, BIOPAMA is identifying opportunities to implement strategic framework priorities in the priority regions. These are closely aligned with key principles and directions in the new global framework but tailored specifically to address distinctive issues, needs and opportunities that occur across the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions.

An Overview of the global approaches to Protected Area Capacity Development culminating in the IUCN WCPA Strategic Framework for Capacity Development in Protected Areas and other Conserved Territories has recently been presented at the ERT conference on “Building capacity for conservation and resources management in Africa” (27-30 July 2015, Nairobi, Kenya), in the presence of stakeholders covering the entire region. The participants were also given an in-depth presentation of the competences based approach to protected area capacity development. 

At the same conference, the 2 BIOPAMA African programmes (West and Central Africa; and Eastern and Southern Africa) presented their inspiring solutions to some of the most pressing protected are management challenges of the respective regions. In Eastern and Southern Africa these solutions are based on conflict resolution around land resource use management, using the Mutual Gains Approach to negotiations. For BIOPAMA in West and Central Africa, the innovative approach is based on current work to enhance capacities for protected area management effectiveness monitoring and planning.

Given the recent celebration of World Ranger Day on 31 July, it is important to note that a key goal of the strategic framework for capacity development is to support initiatives that promote protected area management as a distinct profession with specialist occupations and standards. For this goal to be achieved, standards, systems, and tools should be in place that will support professionalisation and strengthen performance in protected area management by competent individuals and effective organizations.

Note:  Persons or organizations who would like to be involved in the implementation of any of the tasks associated with the Strategy Framework for Capacity Development objectives should contact Mike Appleton ( ) and Eduard Muller (, Co-Chairs of the IUCN WCPA Capacity Development Specialist Group.

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