Parks and protected areas in the 21st century face a wide array of social, ecological and economic challenges. To meet these challenges, parks, whether local, national or global, must be thought of as part of a complex system and be managed from an interdisciplinary perspective that recognizes that human health and well-being are directly linked to environmental health; thus arguments for environmental conservation are inseparable from arguments for promoting public health and developing human capacity.
Additionally, parks must be recognized as natural and cultural laboratories and classrooms for children and adults where they can be immersed in what is real, natural and authentic, rather than what is sterile, isolated and simulated. Finally, parks and protected areas - lands, waters and cultural sites held in trust for the people for public use and enjoyment - reflect the highest ideals of our global society. Therefore, the work of the institute is grounded in the perspective that protected areas and conservation must be integrated with the goals of improving human health, educational systems and global economic development.