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Strengthening Marine Protected Areas in South-East China to conserve globally significant coastal biodiversity
by United Nations Development Programme (United Nations entity)
The GEF-financed project aims to conserve the globally significant coastal biodiversity of SE China through integrated seascape planning and threat management, MPA network expansion and strengthened MPA operations. The project is part of the GEF-6 China Protected Area System Reform Programme, bringing a dedicated emphasis on marine protected areas to the programme. Project implementation is led by the State Oceanic Administration in partnership with provincial and county governments in SE China, with the support of UNDP.

While multiple MPAs have been established in SE China, their current coverage and management effectiveness is insufficient to address the threats posed to critical marine habitats and species of global significance such as the Chinese White Dolphin (Sousa chinensis). The SE China seascape is the worlds most important habitat for the near-threatened (IUCN red list) and iconic Chinese White Dolphin, accounting for some 60% of the global population.

The SE China MPA project aims to put in place a long-term framework for marine conservation through three interlinked components addressing the enabling environment, management effectiveness of MPAs, and coastal monitoring and information-sharing platforms. The MPA legal framework will be strengthened by integrating the protection of marine habitats into marine spatial planning including the application of ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) as buffer zones and corridors connecting MPAs, and the development of regulations for ESAs and the mainstreaming of regulations in non-conservation categories of Marine Functional Zones. The coverage of the MPA system will be expanded based on a gap analysis of the existing MPA system, and financing of the MPA system will be enhanced by the establishment of an eco-compensation management system for marine conservation. Alongside these system-wide initiatives, targeted species action planning will be completed for species such as Chinese White Dolphin.

Site-based efforts to improve MPA management effectiveness will be completed at the seascape-level, targeting MPAs that provide key habitat for Chinese White Dolphin. Activities will aim to reduce locally-specific threats to MPAs, improve connectivity through the establishment of ESAs, and strengthen management planning, monitoring and enforcement capacity, and coordinated management between individual MPAs. Community-based marine conservation and awareness programs will be established. A monitoring and evaluation system for critical coastal habitats and globally significant species will also be developed, and data consolidated in a comprehensive database.
Progress reports
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Integrated Coastal Management
  • Marine Spatial Planning
By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
Type of commitment
  • MPA management and/or enforcement
July 2023
MPA network in SE China expanded by 40,000 ha (including Ecologically Sensitive Areas)
In-kind contribution
20,000,000 USD (parallel financing)
Financing (in USD)
2,652,000 USD
Basic information
Time-frame: July 2018 - July 2023
State Oceanic Administration (government), provincial and county governments (government), United Nations Development Programme (United Nations entity)
Ocean Basins
  • North Pacific
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Lisa Farroway, Regional Technical Specialist, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Asia and the Pacific, lisa.farroway@undp.org,
Bangkok, Thailand
Other SDGs
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