Integrating climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation in the global ocean

Derek P. Tittensor, Maria Beger, Kristina Boeder, et al.
Posted on: 11/30/2020 - Updated on: 8/23/2022

Posted by

Kathryn Braddock



The impacts of climate change and the socioecological challenges they present are ubiquitous and increasingly severe. Practical efforts to operationalize climate-responsive design and management in the global network of marine protected areas (MPAs) are required to ensure long-term effectiveness for safeguarding marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Here, the authors review progress in integrating climate change adaptation into MPA design and management and provide eight recommendations to expedite this process. Climate-smart management objectives should become the default for all protected areas, and made into an explicit international policy target.

To drive implementation, the uptake of climate adaptation principles into MPA (and OECM) design and management needs to be measured (Recommendation 1). This uptake should come through the explicit integration of these principles into MPA distribution (Recommendation 2) and objectives (Recommendation 3) to maintain network effectiveness as the ocean changes. Building climate change objectives into post-2020 targets and indicators (Recommendation 5) would expedite this process. In addition to static anchor MPAs, dynamic conservation tools need to be deployed (Recommendation 4), recognizing their strengths in terms of responding to climate change while acknowledging potential drawbacks, so as to augment ongoing efforts to increase coverage of highly PAs. The post-2020 biodiversity agenda should consider whether dynamic measures, where appropriate in terms of intent, longevity, and execution, should contribute toward global protection targets; ensuring that parties to any international biodiversity agreement are appropriately recognized for implementing new tools will help to promote their use (Recommendation 6). Furthermore, individual states may want to consider developing new multisectoral legislation to help bring new and dynamic climate-smart conservation planning tools into existence (Recommendation 7). Considerations of equity in the conservation burden, stakeholder involvement, and societal impacts need to be at the forefront when implementing a climate-resilient protected seascape (Recommendation 8). Given ongoing negotiations on international conservation targets, now is the ideal time to proactively reform management of the global seascape for the dynamic climate-biodiversity reality.