Climate Change: Implications for the Socioeconomics & Governance of Large Marine Ecosystems

Jon G Sutinen Department of Environmental & Natural Resource Economics University of Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island

Perspective
• How society prepares for & responds to the challenges of climate change will depend on
– The system that governs humans’ interactions with marine ecosystems

• This governance system has not performed well to date
– Currently being restructured
• E.g., Ocean Action Plans in US & Canada

University of Rhode Island

Status & Trends of Marine Ecosystems • Global
– ‘Coastal & marine environmental degradation not only continues but has intensified.’
• Marine pollution • Overexploitation of living marine resources • Coastal habitat loss

– Major threats ‘still exist, despite national and international actions to address these problems.’
Source: UNEP. 2002. Global Environment Outlook 3 University of Rhode Island

The Issues
• Why do we find ourselves with degraded ecosystems? • How do we mitigate the degradation & improve the status of marine ecosystems? • What are the governance challenges unique to climate change? • What is needed to adapt to climate changes in marine ecosystems?
University of Rhode Island

Governance:
A framework for explaining outcomes • 3 basic mechanisms that govern humans’ interactions with ecosystem resources
– Markets – Government – Civil society

University of Rhode Island

Governance Mechanisms
Markets Government Civil Society

Economic Drivers

Legal/Political Drivers

Social Drivers

Human Uses of Marine Ecosystems
University of Rhode Island

Markets
• Principal drivers of
– Excessive extraction of resources – Disposal of pollutants – Habitat alteration

• Market prices ‘Do not tell the ecological truth’
– Prices do not reflect the full cost of products made from ecosystem resources
University of Rhode Island

Market driven impacts
• Fisheries
– overexploitation

Atlantic cod catch 1950-2002. Northeast Atlantic blue), northwest Atlantic (green) and total (red)

University of Rhode Island

Market driven impacts
• Oil and gas production
– Spills – Discharges
• Drilling byproducts

• Shipping & transportation
– Spills – Waste discharges
University of Rhode Island

Market driven impacts
• Coastal development
– Population concentration in coastal areas
• 25% in Canada • 55% in US

– Waste water discharge – Alterations of coastal land

• Agriculture
– Nutrient runoff
• Nitrogen & phosphorus
University of Rhode Island

Ancillary Cause: Government
• Jurisdictions
– Incongruent with ecosystem boundaries in some cases

• Policies & regulations
– Developed separately to date
• Not integrated • Fragmented, disjointed, ineffective, counter-productive

• Political dynamics
– Lack of ‘political will’ – Political interference, such as ‘End runs’

• NW Atlantic local, regional, national, international organizations
– Two countries, many states, provinces, tribal, & local authorities – Regional fishery management councils & commissions – NAFO, NASCO, Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment
University of Rhode Island

Institutions and Arrangements of

Civil Society
• Social norms & networks (social capital)
– Influence public policy & societal behavior patterns – Incompatible social norms & conflicts among interest groups impede ecosystem protection efforts

• Civil Organizations (NGOs)
– Manifestations of social capital – NW Atlantic NGOs include
• Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP)
– 14 watershed/estuary-based local organizations throughout Atlantic Canada

• WWF-Canada, Conservation Law Foundation, The Ocean University of Rhode Island Conservancy

Dealing with Governance Challenges
• Correcting & mitigating market failures
– Design or reform markets to ‘tell the ecological truth’
• Calculate ecological costs
– Economists & natural resource scientists • Calculate the costs of pollution, habitat destruction, overexploitation, etc

• Incorporate ecological costs into market prices
– Shift taxes & subsidies to work in ecological benign ways • Reduce income & property taxes in exchange for • Adding taxes on environmentally damaging activities • User charges & other forms of sustainable financing – Cap-and-trade programs

University of Rhode Island

Dealing with Governance Challenges
• Correcting & mitigating government weaknesses
– Harmonize policies & regulations – Combat shortsighted effects
• Harmonize the interests of political leaders, agency managers, & resource users with the goal of sustainable development

– Avoid decoupled costs & benefits
• Sustainable financing
– E.g., apply the user (beneficiary) pays principle

– Neutralize ‘special interests’

University of Rhode Island

Dealing with Governance Challenges
• Institutions & arrangements of civil society
– Build & strengthen social capital for sustainable development
• Active involvement of NGOs • Partnerships between government and civic organizations • Devolve some rights & responsibilities to NGOs
– E.g., monitoring, habitat rehabilitation projects

University of Rhode Island

Concluding Remarks
• The governance of human interactions with marine ecosystems has not performed well in the past. • Significant improvements in the structure of governance have been & are being made.
– But more needs to be done
• To mitigate market failure, • To improve government performance, & • To strengthen civil society’s constructive involvement
University of Rhode Island

Concluding Remarks
• How will the challenges of climate change differ from the challenges presented by humaninduced changes to marine ecosystems?
– External forcing of changes will trigger disruptions in markets, governments & civil society – Given their inherent weaknesses, will markets, government & civil society respond in desirable ways?
University of Rhode Island

Governance Mechanisms
Markets Government Civil Society

Economic Drivers

Legal/Political Drivers

Social Drivers

Human Uses of Marine Ecosystems
University of Rhode Island

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Available online at www.iwlearn.net/abt_iwlearn/pns/learning/b2-2lme/riworkshop
University of Rhode Island

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