Does the global focus on Marine Protected Area (MPA) targets undermine long-term conservation objectives?

JournalofEnvironmentalManagementElizabeth De Santo, a member of the EIUI research team, has published a paper in the Journal of Environmental Management titled “Missing marine protected area (MPA) targets: How the push for quantity over quality undermines sustainability and social justice.” The paper takes a critical look at the global trend towards designating enormous swaths of marine area as no-take MPAs, questioning whether a “bigger is better” approach actually advances the cause of conservation.



International targets for marine protected areas (MPAs) and networks of MPAs set by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity failed to meet their 2012 deadline and have been extended to 2020. Whilst targets play an important role in building momentum for conservation, they are also responsible for the recent designation of several extremely large no-take MPAs, which pose significant long-term monitoring and enforcement challenges. This paper critically examines the effectiveness of MPA targets, focusing on the underlying risks to achieving Millennium Development Goals posed by the global push for quantity versus quality of MPAs. The observations outlined in this paper have repercussions for international protected area politics with respect to (1) the science-policy interface in environmental decision-making, and (2) social justice concerns in global biodiversity conservation.


De Santo, E. M. (2013). Missing marine protected area (MPA) targets: How the push for quantity over quality undermines sustainability and social justice. Journal of Environmental Management 124. Retrieved from

[News; Science-policy interface; Marine & Ocean Issues; Public policy and decision-making]

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