Foreword from the IMPAC5 Secretariat

On behalf of the partners of the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) and the entire Secretariat team, we are pleased to present a summary report of the Congress. 

Canada was honoured to host IMPAC5 in Vancouver, Canada, from 3-9 February 2023. We are grateful to the Host First Nations xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh) for welcoming the global ocean conservation community to their unceded ancestral territories for this momentous event. We also wish to highlight and thank our co-organizers, namely the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the government of British Columbia, the IMPAC5 Indigenous Working Group and the IMPAC5 Young Professionals Committee for their essential contributions. For their tireless commitment and support and invaluable guidance throughout the planning and delivery of IMPAC5, we extend our deepest thanks to the IMPAC5 Planning Committee members. Appendix A contains a list of individuals we wish to recognize for their unwavering support.

Recognition of the urgent need to protect and restore ocean health surged globally over the past year, with numerous international forums increasingly addressing ocean conservation. In December 2022, at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Fifteenth Convention of the Parties (COP15), the global community established a new marine protection target of 30 per cent by 2030. IMPAC5 built on this momentum just six weeks later, bringing together the largest-ever gathering of ocean conservation professionals to share their commitment, lessons learned and best practices, and to chart a course to achieve the new target.  COP15 established what target to aim for; IMPAC5 focused on how to achieve it.

Over the course of the week, delegates from 128 countries attended panel discussions, speed talks and knowledge sharing sessions, with rich opportunities for networking, for connecting with colleagues and for appreciating the varied cultural programming. IMPAC5 also had a public outreach element, the Ocean Festival, which raised ocean awareness and galvanized support for local and global ocean protection.   

The final day was dedicated to the IMPAC5 Leadership Forum, which invited a global cross-section of 250 leaders active in the ocean protection space.  This report will share ‘what was heard’ at the Forum, as well as the Chairs’ Statement (Appendix C) that looks to the future. 

The influence and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples and Young Professionals were omnipresent throughout the Congress, with members of these communities advising on and independently developing portions of the programming. We wish to acknowledge and celebrate the Indigenous world views, knowledge and perspectives shared with the global community at IMPAC5.  Similarly, we wish to recognize the inspiring insights, passion, and energy brought by the members of the Young Professionals network.

Given the hundreds of events that comprised IMPAC5, this report can provide only a sample of what occurred. It is, however, the belief of the organizers that the relationships built, the lessons shared, and the clear recognition of the need for urgent action will lead to ongoing dialogue and rapid progress in protecting the global ocean.


Manon Larocque
Director General, Strategic Programs Initiatives,
Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO)

Sabine Jessen
Executive Director, International engagement & communications,
IMPAC5 (DFO/detached from CPAWS)

John Thomson
Director of Operations,
Parks Canada