In 2018, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a decision on protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). It contains the definition of an OECM and related scientific and technical advice that has broadened the scope of governance authorities and areas that can be engaged and recognised in global conservation efforts. The voluntary guidance on OECMs and protected areas, also included in the decision, promotes the use of diverse, effective and equitable governance models, the integration of protected areas and OECMs into wider landscapes and seascapes, and mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation across sectors. Taken as a whole, the advice and voluntary guidance provides further clarity about the CBD Parties’ understanding of what constitutes equitable and effective area-based conservation measures within and beyond protected areas and provides standardised criteria with which to measure and report areas’ attributes and performance. This policy perspective suggests that this CBD decision represents further evidence of the evolution from the ‘new paradigm for protected areas’ to a broader ‘conserved areas paradigm’ that embodies good governance, equity and effective conservation outcomes and is inclusive of a diversity of contributions to conservation within and beyond protected areas.