CPAWS to Co-Host World Leaders in Ocean Conservation

The 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress will be held in Canada in 2023. Here is what you can expect. 

In four short months, global leaders and marine conservationists will come together in Vancouver, British Columbia for the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) to chart a course to restore ocean health by protecting at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 in strong and effective Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  

From 3-9 of February 2023, IMPAC5 will convene marine protection practitioners, Indigenous peoples, and young professionals from around the world to share best practices and innovations for advancing and effectively managing a global network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that will help to rebuild and protect biodiversity.  

CPAWS is honored to be a key partner to the Government of Canada and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as one of the host organizations of IMPAC5, alongside three Host Nations, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and the government of British Columbia. The Congress is held every four years under the auspices of the IUCN.  

IMPAC Congresses are global forums that welcome marine protected area professionals, Indigenous leaders, conservationists, policy makers, young professionals and ocean friends and advocates.

IMPAC5 is an opportunity to shore up commitments made at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, the One Ocean Summit in France, and the United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal. Participants and leaders will come to IMPAC5 prepared to move forward on ambitious and innovative approaches that represent transformational change.  

As a member of the planning committee, CPAWS has been hands-on in the development of the Congress program. “We are proud to be a key partner on IMPAC5 at this critical time when Canada and the world must find a way to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030,” says Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS National Executive Director. “IMPAC5 is an important forum for collaborating on how best to safeguard the most important and vulnerable ecosystems and species, bolster Indigenous-led conservation, and ensure our vibrant ocean wildlife, habitats, and coastal communities can recover and flourish for future generations.” 

The Congress will be a hybrid event that includes virtual and in-person programming. “To celebrate IMPAC5 and share this amazing experience with the public, we are also planning a unique Ocean Festival where anyone — young and old, from scientists to school children — can explore some of the amazing places and species we want to protect,” explains Alexandra Barron, National Director of CPAWS’ Ocean Program. “CPAWS Chapters are busy planning activities from coast-to-coast-to-coast to connect all Canadians to IMPAC5.”  

To further foster a sense of global community and elevate the voices of all marine conservationists, IMPAC5 will be comprised of three main streams: Innovation and Transformational Change, Indigenous Peoples Leadership, and The Voice of Young Professionals. Each of these streams will address five key themes: 

  • Building a Global Marine Protected Area Network 
  • Managing Marine Protects Areas and Human Activity 
  • Addressing the Climate Crisis and Conserving Biodiversity 
  • Advancing Conservation in the Blue Economy 
  • Connecting Ocean, Culture and Human Well-Being 


The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and supports an extraordinarily diverse world. We must work together to protect at least 30% by 2030.

Often described as “the MPA Olympics” in terms of its timing and global scale, the goals of IMPAC5 are to: 

  • Demonstrate global support for marine conservation efforts such as networks of marine protected areas and marine spatial planning. 
  • Provide an opportunity to celebrate and galvanize global cooperation in marine conservation. 
  • Provide an opportunity for countries to come together to develop a roadmap to a post-2020 biodiversity framework for ocean conservation. 
  • Showcase the important role of marine protected areas in addressing the climate crisis and conserving biodiversity in a post-pandemic world. 
  • Share what is uniquely Canadian: our vast marine and coastal environment, the rich diversity of local and Indigenous peoples and coastal cultures, our collective efforts, and our world-class ocean science and management regime. 

Calls for proposals have closed. Registration is open. For more information, visit and watch for updates from CPAWS and IMPAC5 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. 

The IMPAC5 Logo Design – A Powerful Call for Global Action 

There is a meaningful story behind the development of the IMPAC5 logo. The design was a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and symbolizes the need for coordinated global action from all nations and cultures to protect the world ocean and the wildlife that calls it home.  

The global ocean theme comes through with a stylized Humpback whale emerging from a cresting wave. The “Salish Eye” motif incorporated into the whale was created by Ta7talíya Michelle Nahanee of Nahanee Creative and a member of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation). It represents the watchful eyes of past and future generations. Visit for the full story about its creation.