The recent Think Tank on Human Dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) held in Hawai’i, saw 125 participants from 17 countries, including leadership from 10 LSMPAs and representation from 16 academic institutions come to the table to support enhancement of management and social science research for the largest MPAs on earth.
Outcomes are still being reviewed and assessed but the initial consensus is that the 3-day workshop has helped to prioritize human dimensions research and will improve the way managers, NGOs, policy-makers, donors and scientists incorporate and consider human dimensions together in their work.
Presentations were given by leading researchers, policy makers and MPA managers on topics ranging from climate change and livelihoods, to cultural practices and economics related to large-scale MPAs. Participants then collaborated in small group exercises to discuss lessons learned and distill practical guidance documents. Progress was made toward the groups’ shared objectives, including: a human dimensions research agenda for large-scale LSMPAs; a guiding document on best practices; and establishment of a community of practice in this realm. A draft a code of conduct for LSMPA engagement was also initiated in response to participants’ feedback during the Think Tank that this kind of document would be essential to future efforts.
Organizers, expressed their gratitude for participants’ willingness to engage so openly and reiterated that the Think Tank is just the beginning of a long-term process. Sharing, learning, and engagement among academics, managers, conservation practitioners, and other stakeholders with a shared goal to improve large-scale marine conservation and sustainable management must continue.
The workshop evaluations received suggested that although the goal to complete a fully developed Human Dimensions research framework was not achieved, the necessary foundation to move toward them was built. More importantly, enough trust was developed to further the dialogue necessary to achieve the workshop’s objectives in the near term. A draft version of the Framework will be shared with participants and then more widely after further revisions.
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