Since its first staging in 1962 in Seattle, USA, the World Parks Congress has substantially influenced the way in which the world has viewed systems of protected areas. The series of Congresses has influenced and tracked perspectives on the role of PAs in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Each Congress has been vital to conservation policy worldwide, addressing global challenges and opportunities, establishing standards to ensure that protected areas are effective, and being a source of inspiration and innovation for the decade that follows.
The IUCN World Parks Congress has been convened five times at ten year intervals since 1962.
- 1962 – Seattle, USA
Definitions and standards for representative systems leading to the UN list of PAs;
- 1972 – Yellowstone / Grand Teton National Park, USA
Conservation of ecosystems, genesis of World Heritage and Wetlands Conventions;
- 1982 – Bali, Indonesia
PAs in sustainable development, development assistance in PAs
- 1992 – Caracas, Venezuela
Global change and PAs; PA categories and management effectiveness;
- 2003 – Durban, South Africa
Governance, sustainable finance, capacity development, linkages in the landscape and seascape, equity and benefit sharing.
At this most recent Congress, held in Durban, South Africa, entitled “Benefits Beyond Boundaries” the Congress prepared the Durban Action Plan, adopted by the CBD COP (Conference of Parties) 7 as the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (POWPA). As the IUCN World Parks Congress enters its sixth decade in Sydney in 2014, it will inspire solutions for people, parks and the planet. It will generate Hope for a Protected Planet by addressing some of the fundamental issues facing protected areas, but moreover highlight the opportunities and solutions that they offer to the world.