An equity framework helps ensure that protected areas are fair to people

Authors Directorate, E.S.P.A.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Impact Story


There have been repeated calls to ensure that costs and benefits arising from protected areas are shared equitably. Yet a gap remains between policy and practice. ESPA responded to a clear need for clarity and practical guidance to ensure that the benefits of conservation do not come at a cost for poor communities. Key messages of this impact story include:

  • Protected areas (PAs) are at the core of efforts to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is recognised that environmental conservation has costs as well as benefits, and that these costs are often shouldered by the poorest local communities.
  • In view of this, Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity calls for PAs to be ‘effectively and equitably managed’. Yet understanding of ‘equitable management’ – and how to achieve it in practice – remains elusive.
  • Several ESPA projects have worked together to develop a framework to support fair, equitable management of PAs. The team responded to a clear policy need, and fed into CBD policy processes (including being directly cited in a CBD document), as well as the revision of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List standards.