Ogmius, Issue 50 is Now Out

Issue #50, Summer 2018

The Complexity of Consensus: Protecting the World’s Most Remote Ocean by Cassandra Brooks

Every year I travel to Hobart, Tasmania at the southern tip of Australia to study international negotiations about protecting the oceans around Antarctica. The future of our oceans demands the establishment of large protected areas and arguably we are leading the way in the Antarctic.

The Antarctic region is exceptional. The coldest, windiest, iciest, driest, and most remote of continents is celebrated for its rich history of exploration, science and diplomacy. The Antarctic Treaty System, the suite of legal agreements that govern the region, lay out strict principles in the service of peace, science, and environmental preservation.

Among these agreements, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) carries forward the mandate for conserving the Southern Ocean ecosystem, including its marine living resources. Fishing is allowed under the Convention, but only under strict, ecosystem and science-based management. CCAMLR has been deemed a leader in international ocean management for its precautionary approach. In line with this leadership, in 2002 CCAMLR committed to designating a network of Southern Ocean marine protected areas in accordance with global international targets. Working towards this goal, CCAMLR adopted the world’s first international marine reserve in 2009 when they protected 94,000 km2 south of the South Orkney Islands. In 2011 they adopted a management framework to guide the protected area process.

Then in 2016, CCAMLR made headlines when they adopted, by consensus, a vast 1.6 million km2 marine protected area in the Ross Sea. This is the world’s first large-scale international marine protected area, and in a region deemed to be one of the healthiest marine ecosystems left on the planet.

My research revolves around understanding under what conditions consensus is possible in managing these global commons. In recent years, I have seen that competing national incentives among CCAMLR states and complex international relations extending far beyond the protected area negotiations stymie consensus as states negotiate power and fishing access in this icy commons at the bottom of the world. Read more …

Learning from Colorado’s 2013 Floods: Decisions, Processes, and Outcomes Four Years Later by Deserai Crow and Elizabeth Albright

Nearly five years ago this coming fall, a stationary storm settled on Colorado’s Front Range foothills, dropping more than 16 inches of rain over 72 hours in some places. Flash flooding along foothills communities (Boulder, Lyons, Longmont, Estes Park, and Loveland, among others) occurred within hours. As the flood waters moved east, Colorado’s plains communities (Evans and Greeley, among others) were impacted.

Communities, households, and individuals are vulnerable to floods due to factors such as human development and changing weather patterns associated with climate change. Local governments focus much of their preparedness attention on emergency response, such as evacuation and restoration of utilities, and may assume that those skills can translate into longer-term disaster recovery.

However, during disaster recovery, local governments are faced with a myriad of policy challenges, from repairing and replacing infrastructure to broader questions of reducing vulnerability to future hazards, which must be dealt with over months and years with no clear path toward ‘success’.

Understanding how local governments respond to a disaster and plan for the future is critical to consider in order to determine whether experiencing a disaster results in safer and more resilient communities. Our work is focused on what leads to increased community resilience to future disasters. We have spent the last four years focused on understanding how communities, the public, and governments can learn from disasters. Read more …

A More Effishient Way to Conserve Forests and Support Livelihoods? by Peter Newton

Sr. Luís tosses a handful of feed into the large pond, and the water erupts as dozens of large Arapaima fish compete for it. These freshwater fish, known here in Brazil as pirarucu, are found naturally in Amazonian lakes but are also now produced by small-scale farmers who have adopted aquaculture as part of a diversified farming system. Pirarucu are a well-known and popular fish: they taste delicious, and since they can grow up to an enormous 200lbs, they produce large boneless fillets. Sr. Luís began investing in aquaculture a few years ago. He dug two ponds on his small farm in the state of Acre, in the northwest Brazilian Amazon, and stocked them with pirarucu. He receives the juvenile fish from a large facility in the state capital of Rio Branco, rears them on his farm, and sells the adult fish back to the same cooperative when they are large enough to slaughter and process. Aquaculture brings additional income to Sr. Luís’ farm. It is also a space-efficient production system, which enables him to comply with legal environmental obligations to retain large parts of his property as native Amazonian forest. Alternative and more traditional forms of animal agriculture, such as cattle ranching, are much less space efficient and are thus much less compatible with forest conservation.

Investing in the infrastructure and training necessary to support a new industry in aquaculture is one of several initiatives designed, funded, and implemented by the Government of Acre in recent years. Acre has become famous as an example of strong subnational leadership, which is committed to a pathway of low-emissions development focused on forest conservation and sustainable socio-economic activities. The state thus contrasts sharply with many other parts of the Brazilian Amazon, where the model of rural development has been based on extensive cattle ranching and soy agriculture, which have been associated with widespread deforestation, environmental degradation, and social injustices. In addition to aquaculture, Acre’s state leadership has developed economies in other sectors that are also more compatible with forest conservation, including Brazil nuts, açai, natural rubber, and agroforestry. Each is supported through a combination of subsidies, training and capacity building, cooperatives, processing facilities, and markets, making engagement in these activities a viable livelihood strategy for rural producers.

I visited Acre in May 2017 and again in March 2018, to develop research and education collaborations with stakeholders in the Federal University of Acre (UFAC) and the Government of Acre. Acre was a founding member of the Governors’ Climate and Forests Taskforce (GCF), which is coordinated from CU Boulder, and Governor Tião Viana visited Boulder in January 2017 with a delegation of ministers and professors. An MOU between CU Boulder, UFAC, and the Acre Government resulted from this visit, and has laid the path for a growing number of collaborations. Read more …

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