Posts Tagged 'Policy'

Drivers and implications of change in global ocean health over the past five years

Growing international and national focus on quantitatively measuring and improving ocean health has increased the need for comprehensive, scientific, and repeated indicators to track progress towards achieving policy and societal goals. The Ocean Health Index (OHI) is one of the few indicators available for this purpose. Here we present results from five years of annual global assessment for 220 countries and territories, evaluating potential drivers and consequences of changes and presenting lessons learned about the challenges of using composite indicators to measure sustainability goals. Globally scores have shown little change, as would be expected. However, individual countries have seen notable increases or declines due in particular to improvements in the harvest and management of wild-caught fisheries, the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs), and decreases in natural product harvest. Rapid loss of sea ice and the consequent reduction of coastal protection from that sea ice was also responsible for declines in overall ocean health in many Arctic and sub-Arctic countries. The OHI performed reasonably well at predicting near-term future scores for many of the ten goals measured, but data gaps and limitations hindered these predictions for many other goals. Ultimately, all indicators face the substantial challenge of informing policy for progress toward broad goals and objectives with insufficient monitoring and assessment data. If countries and the global community hope to achieve and maintain healthy oceans, we will need to dedicate significant resources to measuring what we are trying to manage.

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Ocean acidification policy: applying the lessons of Washington to California and beyond

This Article aims to distill the lessons of Washington’s experience with ocean acidification (OA) policy and apply them to the political framework that exists in California. More generally, this Article evaluates the political landscape in which OA policy is taking shape along the west coast of the United States and highlights elements of a political and policy strategy that would build current momentum on OA in California and elsewhere into a larger, more sustained policy infrastructure capable of addressing coastal issues of environmental resilience and water quality in the context of global change. It concludes by identifying some ways in which OA policy might benefit from action on—and constituencies for—the multiple interacting drivers of environmental change.

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An orphan problem looking for adoption: responding to ocean acidification utilising existing international institutions

Ocean acidification poses a substantial threat to the ocean, marine wildlife and the goods and services they provide. As a result it presents a substantial regulatory challenge at the international, regional, national and sub-national levels. In the international realms, ocean acidification is not currently addressed by any international instrument or stand-alone agreement, nor does there appear to be any coherent framework for responding to the issue. Despite this, there are a number of international institutions, including treaty bodies and specialised UN agencies that have expressed an interest in ocean acidification and have begun to initiate an array of relevant activities – a small number of which may be considered substantive activities, including rule-making and implementation.

This paper is an effort to explore the existing international frameworks that are applicable to forming a response to ocean acidification in an attempt to prevent worsening acidification and respond to impacts now and into the future. Six policy domains are outlined that together comprise a comprehensive response to ocean acidification. Each of these are then addressed with respect to what institutions are currently doing to respond to acidification and what could be done in the future.

This paper finds that only three international institutions have initiated substantive policy-making in response to ocean acidification with respect to the regulation of carbon capture and storage and the protection of species. While these are important policy interventions, they are simply not enough to prevent worsening ocean acidification or respond to the impacts resulting from increased acidity, even when coupled with policies, such as regulation of carbon dioxide under the UNFCCC that have been implemented without reference to ocean acidification. In order to fill the existing gaps, this paper proposes a series of, as yet un-utilized mechanisms that could be employed to enhance a response to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘An orphan problem looking for adoption: responding to ocean acidification utilising existing international institutions’

A rapid assessment of co-benefits and trade-offs among Sustainable Development Goals

Achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) results in many ecological, social, and economic consequences that are inter-related. Understanding relationships between sustainability goals and determining their interactions can help prioritize effective and efficient policy options. This paper presents a framework that integrates existing knowledge from literature and expert opinions to rapidly assess the relationships between one SDG goal and another. Specifically, given the important role of the oceans in the world’s social-ecological systems, this study focuses on how SDG 14 (Life Below Water), and the targets within that goal, contributes to other SDG goals. This framework differentiates relationships based on compatibility (co-benefit, trade-off, neutral), the optional nature of achieving one goal in attaining another, and whether these relationships are context dependent. The results from applying this framework indicate that oceans SDG targets are related to all other SDG goals, with two ocean targets (of seven in total) most related across all other SDG goals. Firstly, the ocean SDG target to increase economic benefits to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and least developed countries for sustainable marine uses has positive relationships across all SDGs. Secondly, the ocean SDG target to eliminate overfishing, illegal and destructive fishing practices is a necessary pre-condition for achieving the largest number of other SDG targets. This study highlights the importance of the oceans in achieving sustainable development. The rapid assessment framework can be applied to other SDGs to comprehensively map out the subset of targets that are also pivotal in achieving sustainable development.

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Marine reserves can mitigate and promote adaptation to climate change

Strong decreases in greenhouse gas emissions are required to meet the reduction trajectory resolved within the 2015 Paris Agreement. However, even these decreases will not avert serious stress and damage to life on Earth, and additional steps are needed to boost the resilience of ecosystems, safeguard their wildlife, and protect their capacity to supply vital goods and services. We discuss how well-managed marine reserves may help marine ecosystems and people adapt to five prominent impacts of climate change: acidification, sea-level rise, intensification of storms, shifts in species distribution, and decreased productivity and oxygen availability, as well as their cumulative effects. We explore the role of managed ecosystems in mitigating climate change by promoting carbon sequestration and storage and by buffering against uncertainty in management, environmental fluctuations, directional change, and extreme events. We highlight both strengths and limitations and conclude that marine reserves are a viable low-tech, cost-effective adaptation strategy that would yield multiple cobenefits from local to global scales, improving the outlook for the environment and people into the future.

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How does framing affect policy support for emissions mitigation? Testing the effects of ocean acidification and other carbon emissions frames

Public support for carbon emissions mitigation is crucial to motivate action to address global issues like climate change and ocean acidification (OA). Yet in the public sphere, carbon emissions mitigation policies are typically discussed in the context of climate change and rarely in the context of OA or other global change outcomes. In this paper, we advance research on OA and climate change perceptions and communication, by (i) examining causal beliefs about ocean acidification, and (ii) measuring support for mitigation policies from individuals presented with one of five different policy frames (climate change, global warming, carbon pollution, air pollution, and ocean acidification). Knowledge about OA causes and consequences is more widespread than we anticipated, though still generally low. Somewhat surprisingly, an “air pollution” mitigation frame elicits the highest degree of policy support overall, while “carbon pollution” performs no better than “climate change” or “global warming.” Framing effects are in part contingent on prior knowledge and attitudes, and mediated by concern. Perhaps due to a lack of OA awareness, the OA frame generates the least support overall, although it seems to close the gap in support associated with political orientation: the OA frame increases support among those (few) conservatives who report having heard of OA before the survey. These findings complement previous work on climate change communication and suggest the need for further research into OA as an effective way to engage conservatives in carbon emissions mitigation policy. Potentially even more promising is the air pollution framing.

Continue reading ‘How does framing affect policy support for emissions mitigation? Testing the effects of ocean acidification and other carbon emissions frames’

Conservation of Brazilian coral reefs in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean: a change of approach

Brazil has the most extensive and richest areas of coral reefs in the South Atlantic Ocean, with its fauna characterized by high endemism and adaptations related to its growth and morphology, to its coral building fauna and to the depositional environment that differ from other coral reefs around the world. In spite of the effects from changes in the global environmental, the main stress factors for Brazilian reefs are local level threats, such as pollution and overfishing. The effects from these threats reduce biodiversity and result in decreasing stocks at different trophic levels. The trend that currently exists, regarding marine resource use, implies that reassessing the conservation strategies is urgently necessary if the degradation of these environments is to be reversed. It is necessary that the practices used in adjacent watersheds be improved, combined with actions to protect and recover native vegetation, along with planning for developing coastal areas, which will ensure that sedimentation rates be controlled and pollution sources are drastically reduced. Brazil should have to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to lead an evolution from traditional threat management in individual portions of ecosystems to large-scale management strategies in complex socio-economic and natural systems.

Continue reading ‘Conservation of Brazilian coral reefs in the Southwest Atlantic Ocean: a change of approach’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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