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The IUCN Green List Standard use for Effective Management along the Mekong River

Posted Friday 25 August 2023
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In 2022, the IUCN Asia Regional Office initiated collaboration with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to address vital Environmental Assets, including significant watershed areas and Protected Conservation Areas (PCAs) across the Mekong region. The primary objective of this partnership was to conduct a comprehensive analysis of four selected sites (termed as environmental assets by MRC) in alignment with the IUCN Green List standard. This analysis would serve as a foundation for crafting management plans for these crucial environmental assets across Mekong Basin countries (Thailand, Viet Nam, Laos PDR, and Cambodia). The focus of the collaboration encompassed:

  • Enhancing the capabilities of regional and national experts in utilizing the IUCN Green List framework to inform the creation of effective management plans.
  • Formulating a shared approach and methodology for conducting gap analyses and devising action plans for the four sites based on the IUCN Green List Standard. This process aimed to contribute to the development of robust site management plans.

The Strategy for Basin-wide Management (SBEM) 2021-2025, approved by the MRC Council in 2020, outlined a strategic priority of revising or generating new management plans for essential regional environmental assets. In response, Project 4 under the Project-Based Action Plan (PBAP) for SBEM aimed to provide support to Member Countries in establishing or updating management plans, as needed. These plans targeted the preservation and enhancement of natural capital, ecosystem services, and effective responses to local and transboundary threats. Moreover, they aimed to bolster climate resilience and integrated landscape management.

The management plans for each environmental asset were designed to inform the specific design and direction of activities outlined in other SBEM projects. The suggested approach for developing these plans, along with regional guidance, methodology, and templates, was discussed with Member Countries during the Expert Group on Environmental Management and national consultations. This approach involved conducting gap analysis using the IUCN Green List framework to identify actions required for enhancing site management. Each Member Country has nominated a significant environmental asset for initial gap analysis:

  • Cambodia: Tonle Sap Multiple Use Area
  • Laos PDR: Beung Kiat Ngong
  • Thailand: Lower Songkhram River
  • Viet Nam: U Minh Tuong National Park

The gap analysis was carried out against the IUCN Green List Standard for these four assets. Subsequently, an action plan developed for each asset, outlining measures for achieving compliance with the Green List Standard. These measures aim to inform member countries about the suitability of nominating an asset to the Green List. A Project Plan also formulated for each asset, guiding the process of developing new management plans, updating existing ones, or implementing measures identified in the Action Plan. Both the action plan (content-oriented) and the project plan (process-oriented) envisaged as critical inputs for new or revised management plans, contingent on resource mobilization.

The current challenge involves securing adequate resources, both financial and human, to execute the Project and Action Plans for each Regional Environmental Asset, thus enhancing site management. By the end of 2023, the anticipated outcomes include:

  • Establishing Project Teams in each Member Country to execute the agreed Project and Action Plans.
  • Mobilizing sufficient financial resources for improved asset management based on the established plans.
  • Nominating at least one vital regional environmental asset from each country to the IUCN Green List.
  • Establishing and operationalizing governance structures for the IUCN Green List in each Member Country, contingent upon each country’s decision.

To advance these objectives, a regional meeting was convened on May 31, 2023, with the following goals:

  1. Discuss and contribute insights to the proposed approach and work-plan for 2023.
  2. Deliberate on draft Work Agreements, Terms of Reference for Member Country teams, roles and responsibilities of a Regional Consultant supporting activity implementation, and content requirements for a viable funding strategy for each country.

This collaboration between IUCN and MRC has served as an exemplary instance of demonstrating the use IUCN Green List Standard as a diagnostic tool for assessing site-based effective management.

Photo: © Mekong River Commission (MRC)

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