World Parks Congress Closes with Signing of Durban Accord

The 10-day World Parks Congress closed yesterday in Durban, South Africa, with the signing of the eponymous Durban Accord. The accord is not legally binding for its 154 signatories, but it is still considered a tool to “promote, guide, and influence positive action for protected areas around the globe,” according to WPC Secretary-General David Sheppard. The agreement attempts to map a course toward preserving and increasing the world’s protected areas in the face of a burgeoning population, political obstacles, climate change, and other challenges. It particularly seeks to increase protection of marine biodiversity, improve the situation of “paper parks” (declared protected areas that lack management or funding), and stem the encroachment of developers — all while striking a balance with the needs of the world’s most impoverished peoples.