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Marine Protected Area (MPA) governance research at University College London (UCL) has shaped policies and practices to help achieve an international legal target for 10% of global ocean area to be designated as MPAs. 



Human life depends on the benefits that oceans provide for health, well-being, and economic growth but there is a widening gap between the declining health of our oceans and the growing demand for its resources and benefits. MPAs offer one of the best options for maintaining or restoring the health of ocean and coastal ecosystems.



Since 2009, research by geographers at UCL has investigated how different governance approaches can be combined to promote effectiveness in achieving conservation objectives.

Ethnographic methods have been used to gain insights into different perspectives on governance and related issues.

Social and ecological elements were integrated and analysed through the Marine Protected Area Governance (MPAG) research framework to assess the degree to which combinations of governance approaches provide both effectiveness and equity.



The research-based MPAG framework has shaped international, national, and regional policies and practices to protect the world’s oceans.

At an international level, the research has shaped UN recommendations on MPAs. In 2016, Dr Peter Jones contributed to the Rome MPA Conference, organised by UNEP and the Italian government, which aimed to provide a roadmap for achieving the 10% marine protection targets. The resulting outputs, UN Call to Action and Scientists’ Consensus Statement, include detailed recommendations based on the MPAG research findings.

At a national level, the research has informed Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) policies. In 2016, oral evidence based on the research was given to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry 'Marine Protected Areas Revisited' which subsequently prompted a review by Defra of Highly Marine Protected Areas (HMPAs).

In Madagascar, the findings of an MPAG analysis have helped build capacity for the Sainte Luce MPA facilitated by the non-governmental organisation SEED, strengthening livelihoods in lobster fisheries for local communities.


More information: 

Institution: University College London 

Researcher: Dr Peter JS Jones

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Shaping UN and national guidance on policies and practices to protect oceans and coastal ecosystems through marine protected areas. Available at's  Last accessed on: <date>