Marine Protected Areas: Together we can do more

Marine Protected Areas: Together we can do more
Breakout room discussion on sustainable finance. Photographer credit: Mnqobi Zuma

Johannesburg, 25 May23: Earlier this month over 60 delegates from various sectors, including private finance, insurance, government, community leaders, multilateral organisations, and Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers, gathered in Cape Town for a two- and half-day workshop supported by the Blue Action Fund, to unpack Sustainably Financing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in South Africa and Delivering on the 30×30 Ocean Agenda. This workshop was driven by non-profit organisation, WILDTRUST, and the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA) who are working together in a multi-year effort to identify sustainable MPA financing mechanisms in a South African context.

MPAs are critical management tools for safeguarding coastal and ocean natural capital, supporting biodiversity and protecting the ecosystems which many communities rely on for food security and livelihoods. There is a total of 41 MPAs in South Africa’s mainland ocean space making up 5.4 percent of its ocean footprint. Two of these 41 MPAs are uThukela and iSimangaliso on the east coast of South Africa.

WILDTRUST is currently leading a consortium of partners to protect and restore ecosystems in the uThukela and iSimangaliso MPAs. The projects aim to utilise nature-based solutions to improve the livelihoods and food security of vulnerable communities, while providing internationally relevant models for socio-ecological resilience in and around financially sustainable MPAs.

Nonhle Mngadi, Senior Project Manager at WILDTRUST, who manages the project in the uThukela MPA, said: “Knowing the diverse sea creatures that inhabit this area, its important mangroves, saltmarshes, seagrasses and swamp forests, as well as the endangered species it protects and the value it brings the surrounding communities and seeing conversations happening and plans unfolding around how to finance and manage this MPA effectively, makes me very excited.”

Karen Sack, Executive Director of ORRAA, said: “This is now all about how we take meaningful action. Our finance and insurance members are keen to explore how to develop sovereign, national or regional-level financing mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation of a country’s MPA network. This has become even more important since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Global Biodiversity Framework target to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s ocean and seas by 2030 (30×30).”

The workshop attendees also witnessed a historical moment when Chief Director of Biodiversity Monitoring and Specialist Services, Dr Tsepang Makholela, of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) announced they are fully supportive of the global 30×30 target, the expansion of MPAs and mainstreaming OECMs (Other Effective Area Based Conservation Measures). They also announced their planning of a 30×30 implementation workshop in June this year and asked all workshop attendees to join in order to get clarity on how they can contribute to protected area expansion in South Africa. “Together, we can do more,” said Makholela.

“As a country we have gone through a phase where we have actually proclaimed quite a few MPAs,” said Pam Yako of the South African Parks Board. “The biggest challenge now is going to be how do we keep it effective. Scale is important to get to the targets, but need to make sure we are effective.”

“Now is the time for South Africa to act to increase its mainland MPA coverage to protect biodiversity, to support fisheries, to support coastal livelihoods, to combat climate change impacts – towards a resilient and regenerative future for nature and for people,” concluded Dr Jean Harris, WILDOCEANS Strategic Lead at the WILDTRUST.



Photographer credit: Mnqobi Zuma

FMI/Media Queries – Lauren van Nijkerk (WILDTRUST Director: Campaigns & Communications) [email protected] or 0833994665 OR

Kerry Simpson (Mantis Communications) [email protected] or 079 438 3252


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