«Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Working Paper NI WP 14-01 February 2014 Working toward a More Valuable Ocean: Concepts and ...»
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP IN IMPROVING OCEAN HEALTH Dr. Pawan G. Patil, Senior Economist, World Bank Group Nowhere is the link between poverty and the environment more obvious than in the ocean. The ocean plays a vital role as the planet’s life support system. It holds about 97% of our water, it absorbs heat and carbon dioxide, it generates oxygen, and it shapes our weather patterns.
However, the ocean is not a life-support system in the
sense. It feeds over a billion people and supports hundreds of millions with jobs and livelihoods. Many of these people are located in some of the poorest coastal and island nations. Over half of the world’s economy is produced within 100 kilometers of the ocean.
This is exactly why the World Bank has engaged in the ocean agenda for many years now. If we care about ending extreme poverty by 2030, we cannot ignore the ocean. The ocean is fundamental to the economic well-being and future food security of a huge number of our client countries.
The work we do on natural capital accounting shows the value of a healthy ocean to a country’s economic prosperity. Countries tell us they want our help to put in place the laws and institutions needed to better manage their ocean resources for sustainable economic growth. In a changing climate that is already displacing thousands, endangering millions, and threatening the development gains that have been so hard won, this is increasingly important.
To give the ocean a fighting chance of withstanding climate change, we have to tackle the other issues threatening its health in the meantime—and that means overfishing, destructive and illegal fishing, marine pollution, and the destruction of marine habitats like coral reefs, sea grasses, mangroves, and salt marshes.
The good news is that solutions exist for all these challenges. We can act to rebuild fish stocks, protect critical natural habitats, and reduce pollution levels. In fact, an integrated approach to all these threats is the best thing we can do for the health of the ocean while we transition away from carbon-based economies.
At the World Bank Group, our portfolio of support to fisheries and ocean habitat conservation now runs to over $1 billion, and we are providing another $5 billion to support pollution reduction and water resource management in coastal areas. We have heard, however, that while a good start, this is not enough.
Through this work, however, we learned that change can happen and when it does, people benefit. There are many examples. We know that our work alone isn’t enough. No one organization or country can do what’s needed to turn around ocean health on its own. That’s why we see partnership as so important.
When the global community comes together to focus on real solutions, the opportunities that emerge are tremendous.
The Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) is a new way for us to focus on the action needed. The Global Partnership for Oceans, which the World Bank has been stewarding for the past 18 months, is an important platform for the global community to focus on ocean action. The Bank is grateful to over 140 public, private, and civil society partners for their enthusiasm, passion, and expertise, which have been vital to the GPO’s evolution.
The partnership seeks to bring public, private, and civil society financial flows together in a way that creates the triple win that we all seek: poverty reduction plus profitable investments in the ocean space for sustainable growth plus conservation for protection of ecosystem services. Rather than simply having all the players “at the table”—we’re starting to see a different sort of dynamic emerging through the GPO— one – in which the partners own and drive the agenda. Countries needing expertise and financing to achieve declared targets—like Aichi Target 11, poverty alleviation, and inclusive green growth are in the driver’s seat of this process.
But no one size fits all: actions and solutions have to be tailored to the local context and adapted based on careful monitoring and lessons. We know this will be hard—any partnership focusing on such a large part of the planet and involving so many countries and groups will be. But after one year of designing this together with many stakeholders, we’re really excited about the GPO moving forward.
Together, we can build the momentum and results to solve the global challenge of the oceans and seize the opportunity for countries and the global economy. In partnership, we can unleash the wealth of the ocean in pursuit of a world without poverty underpinned by healthy oceans and the goods and services they provide. We are proud to work as one of many in partnership and believe this is the only way we can turn the tide on ocean health.
MARINE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES BENEFIT US IN SURPRISING WAYS Tundi Agardy, SoundSeas Focusing on marine and coastal ecosystem services has great potential for improving the way we approach marine management, steering our use of the sea’s resources and space toward sustainability.
Why? Simply put, we humans are willing to invest in the protection of nature only when we see it benefits us. New research that identifies and assesses ecosystem services, and estimates their economic value, can focus attention on safeguarding the ecosystems that support, sustain, and enrich us all. Marine ecosystem services provide direct benefits, many of which are only now being recognized. Properly considering the role marine ecosystem services play in human well-being provides us with an approach to management that could lead to vastly improved outcomes.
The loss of ecosystem services is not an esoteric concern shared only by academics and environmentalists. The loss of ecosystem services threatens us all, whether we live on the coasts or inland, whether we are engaged in business or employed by government. Risks are heightened when services are lost: it’s not just that fisheries collapse, shoreline destabilization, and exposure to natural hazards, but also risks to traditional livelihoods, to physical health, and to emotional well-being. And given the role of oceans in maintaining planetary balances, in weather, climate, and nutrient cycling, we risk disrupting our entire life support system when we carelessly degrade our oceans.
An ecosystem services approach assists us in scoping the problems facing our oceans and developing strategies to address them (planning), and in policy development, legislation enactment, and implementation of rules and regulations (management). One of the most important facets of this approach is that it is holistic: one cannot identify ecosystem services of value without describing the linkages that connect various elements of nature (species within ecosystems, one ecosystem to the next), and the linkages between natural systems and human well-being. Understanding these linkages is the foundation for ecosystem-based management, improving efficiency, and reducing vulnerabilities to surprises and unintended consequences.
The focus on ecosystem functions of value to humans can also generate the flow of new funds for conservation and management, which are badly needed. Conducting targeted research to support planning, convening parties to negotiate international agreements, monitoring marine areas, enforcing laws, and conducting day-to-day management of marine areas all require significant human and financial resources. Those who directly benefit from effective management— – and continued ecosystem services delivery—should view protection of ecosystems as worthwhile business investments, with high rates of return. Demonstrations of new revenue streams generated by private sector investment are cropping up worldwide, but we urgently need to replicate them and bring them to scale.
Paradoxically, recent interest in quantifying ecosystem services can lead us away from making investments that will improve planning and management for these benefits. Rather than generating useful information for rapid uptake by planners and decision makers, some in the scientific community push for a full understanding of ecosystems, ecological processes, social and ecological resilience, and economic valuation of services. This is complicated stuff, sometimes controversial, and always time-consuming.
We simply don’t have the luxury of time to generate full understanding before we act. Yet we know enough about most of these systems to quickly identify what ecosystem services they provide and how.
We know which human activities cause negative impacts that need to be reduced. And we know enough to practice triage: rapidly identifying which coastal and marine (and inland) areas need immediate protection in order to safeguard ecosystems and the delivery of services.
All of this information can be synthesized, and much of it can be mapped. This becomes the basis for spatial planning and for zoning plans that accommodate use but also protect what needs protecting. An ocean zoning plan that is built from solid scientific understanding of how ecosystems function and contribute to the well-being of people and that shows how we can alleviate the pressures that threaten that well-being is the best hope we have for protecting our oceans and our planet.
SUSTAINABLE MARINE GOVERNANCE: LESSONS FROM THE BALTIC SEA REGION Dr. Mikael Karlsson, President Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and European Environment Bureau (EEB) Some decades ago in Estonia, I witnessed enormous mining landscapes and huge open waste ponds with tons of radioactive sediments close to the Baltic Sea. Not far away though, national parks and wooden meadows showed a flourishing biodiversity. There was hope amid havoc.
This situation was not unique for post Soviet States. In between beautiful coastal areas, industries all around the Baltic Sea emitted enormous volumes of pollutants. Together with high nutrient loads from agriculture and municipalities, this has made the Baltic Sea probably the most polluted marine area in the world. Adding overfishing, continuous oil spills, high ecosystem sensitivity, limited water exchange with the North Sea and steadily changing politics illustrates the challenges at hand.
Nevertheless, preventive measures were taken quite early, in some nation states and under the 1974 Helsinki Convention for the protection of the Baltic Sea. By then, only Denmark and West Germany were EC members, and the Soviet Union dominated the eastern shores. In spite of the cold war though, HELCOM adopted hundreds of recommendations, including those on several hazardous substances. The effect over time has been lowered levels of toxic substances, such as PCB. Today I see white-tailed eagles quite often, which I couldn’t when I grew up. Traditional command and control works.
After the Wall came down, Finland and Sweden joined the EU, which thereby focused more on the Baltic Sea. The Helsinki Convention was revised and strengthened. Multi-level governance flourished, with firms, municipalities, NGOs, and universities collaborating to an unprecedented extent. Ten years later, the Eastern enlargement of the EU made Russia the only Baltic country outside the union. Again, changes followed and EU policies for chemicals, nutrients, and so on were applied more broadly. Opportunities grew for new structures and policies, such as collaborative forums, and directives on marine strategy and spatial planning. HELCOM adopted the 2007 Baltic Sea Action Plan, and the EU developed the Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Recently, we have also seen a promising reform of EU fisheries policy, and a clear failure to do the same in the agricultural area.
Based on this review, we can identify and learn from themes and trends for policies.
Structurally, the EU has become increasingly important, but the EU has also promoted regionalization of marine governance. The latter might be seen to cause tensions with Europeanization, but studies show the trends to be mutually supportive.
Looking at policies, we can see a trend from pollution control to risk governance: individual policies have been matched by sector integration, a polluter perspective has been complemented by the ecosystem approach to management, and the dominance of nation states has transformed into a multi-level system, with both local and international, horizontal and vertical governance structures, where policies are uploaded and downloaded. All this risk governance is causing a kind of policy thicket, but so far the many cooks have not spoiled the broth.
This is not to say that the most adequate governance structures are in place, not at all. I think fewer, better coordinated and more comprehensive policies are needed, and I would imagine that EU gradually will replace HELCOM as the focal point.
Even more important than structures is policy content. Here, government, including the EU unit, still counts most in the governance landscape of networks, institutions, and actors. Therefore, public policies will be most important also in the future.
But why are there still huge gaps between objectives and measures?
One hypothesis is that we know too little about the oceans; that we don’t see, consider, or account for marine natural capital; and that we have innovation bottlenecks and technological challenges.
Of course, we need more knowledge and data, better models, and natural capital accounting as well as new technologies and tools for stimulating innovation. But I think there are deeper challenges.
We need to ask if science is a key governance bottleneck. In many cases it isn’t. A clear example is the huge gap between the science-based recommendations on fish quotas from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas and the non-science-based decisions made by regulators, grossly exceeding advice and maximum sustainable yields. We also know how to cope with uncertainty. In just the same way as we don’t eat unknown mushrooms, we apply precaution, a principle included in the EU treaty and the Helsinki Convention. PCB was banned based on the precautionary principle some two decades before there was full scientific proof of the damage so apparent today in the Baltic Sea, a measure that has saved many white-tailed eagles, seals, and otters, not to mention huge remediation costs. We also know how to apply precaution when setting fish quotas.
Moreover, we know how to transform environmental capital and pollution costs into monetary values, but asking for full valuation of marine ecosystem services would take ages.