Part 2 of our continuing coverage of MPAs, COVID-19, and the financial crisis

Last month, MPA News featured first-hand accounts from ten MPA practitioners worldwide on how the COVID-19 pandemic was already impacting their MPAs – from steep declines in tourism, to cuts in budgets and staffing, to increased poaching at some sites. The likelihood of a lasting global financial crisis, and uncertainties about the directions COVID-19 will take, threaten to prolong these and other challenges for the foreseeable future. If the MPA field does not prepare and adapt, it risks losing gains in protection that have been made to this point.

This month, we continue our coverage of the pandemic and financial crisis:

  1. Insights from Markus Knigge of Blue Action Fund on how the financial crisis could impact grants to MPAs
  2. Highlights from a June panel on MPAs and COVID-19, moderated by MPA News
  3. A list of additional resources, including guidance and grants

“Donors have started to shift funding to address other urgent and essential needs”: An interview with Markus Knigge of Blue Action Fund

Blue Action Fund supports the work of NGOs to conserve oceans and coastlines in the developing world, including via MPAs. Based in Germany, the Fund is a private foundation that receives its funding from the national governments of Germany, Sweden, and France. Its relatively unique position – with one foot in the foundation world, and one in the government world – gives it a valuable vantage point on trends in the philanthropic sector.

MPA News asked Markus Knigge, executive director of Blue Action Fund, for his views on how the coming financial crisis could impact grant funding for MPAs.

“We need to be talking about innovation”: Insights from the World Economic Forum panel on MPAs and COVID-19

On 2 June 2020, MPA News moderated an online panel discussion on the impacts of COVID-19 and the financial crisis on marine protection. The panel was part of a global, week-long, online conference for ocean action – the Virtual Ocean Dialogues, hosted by the World Economic Forum and Friends of Ocean Action.

The panel featured:

  • Nirmal Shah, Chief Executive of Nature Seychelles, an NGO that manages the Cousin Island Special Reserve, an MPA;
  • Marina Gomei, Regional Projects Manager for WWF’s Mediterranean Marine Initiative; and
  • Susanna Fuller, Vice President (Operations and Projects) for Oceans North, an NGO that supports marine conservation in Arctic and Atlantic Canada in partnership with Indigenous and coastal communities.

MPA News has excerpted the panelists’ remarks here. Edits have been made for length and clarity.

More resources on MPAs and COVID-19: Guidance and grants

COVID‐19 and protected and conserved areas, PARKS, May 2020. Co-authored by 35 protected area practitioners, this essay suggests three potential scenarios for how the pandemic will impact protected areas and their role in society’s recovery:

  1. A return to normal;
  2. A global economic depression and decline in conservation; or
  3. A new and transformative relationship with nature – “the only sustainable pathway,” write the authors.

Perspective | What protecting the ocean can teach us about police brutality

By John Bohorquez

Sometimes you can find insight in surprising places. As a graduate student who studies marine conservation and protected areas, I admit I found myself asking after the murder of George Floyd, “How could my work possibly be more useless right now?” It’s difficult to stay focused when there are so many other issues afflicting the world. Even this year’s World Oceans Week often felt like an afterthought. 

But as this historic moment has developed, I have begun to see some parallels between my research in marine conservation and what disadvantaged communities in the US are protesting against just outside my door. How policing is conducted and how police are held accountable in each of these settings affects the wellbeing of all.