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Coral Reefs and People in a High CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People?

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put shallow, warm-water coral reef ecosystems, and the people who depend upon them at risk from two key global environmental stresses: 1) elevated sea surface temperature that can cause coral bleaching and related mortality, and 2) ocean acidification. These rising CO2 levels may affect most of the world’s coral reefs and the populations which depend on them by 2050, according to a study the journal PLOS ONE. The study projects that countries in western Oceania would be amongst the first affected by CO2-driven coral reef stress, followed by Southeast Asian countries in the Coral Triangle such as Indonesia, which are highly dependent on coral reefs. Countries predicted to be most likely to experience severe ocean acidification are generally different from those predicted to experience the earliest onset of coral bleaching, with acidification projected to be worse for countries at the upper and lower latitudinal bounds of coral reef distribution such as Baja California (Mexico), Japan, China, and southern Australia. Unfortunately, many of the countries that are most dependent upon coral reefs are also the countries for which data are least robust, and the authors note that international and regional efforts will be needed to overcome obstacles to obtaining good data globally.

Authors: Linwood Pendleton, Adrien Comte, Chris Langdon, Julia A. Ekstrom, Sarah R. Cooley, Lisa Suatoni, Michael W. Beck, Luke M. Brander, Lauretta Burke, Josh E. Cinner, Carolyn Doherty, Peter E. T. Edwards, Dwight Gledhill, Li-Qing Jiang, Ruben J. van Hooidonk, Louise Teh, George G. Waldbusser, and Jessica Ritter

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Climate and Energy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Journal Articles

Toward a Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021

This comprehensive set of policy recommendations on oceans and climate for consideration at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 22nd Conference of the Parties and beyond is aimed at recognizing the central role of oceans in climate and the need to implement stringent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid disastrous consequences for coastal and island communities, marine ecosystems, and ocean chemistry. The recommendations from the International Expert Working Group on Oceans and Climate address mitigation, adaptation, displacement, financing, and capacity development.With respect to mitigation, the authors recommend implementing “blue carbon” policies, reducing carbon emissions from ships, developing ocean-based renewable energy, and considering (long-term/no-harm) ocean-based carbon capture and storage. They also encourage all nations to reduce carbon emissions so that the Paris Agreement to limit emissions to well below 2 degrees Celsius can be achieved. With respect to adaptation, the authors recommend implementing ecosystem-based adaptation strategies through integrated coastal and ocean management institutions at national, regional, and local levels to reduce the vulnerability of coastal/ocean ecosystems and human settlements and to build the management capacity, preparedness, resilience, and adaptive capacities of coastal and island communities. With respect to displacement of coastal and island populations as a result of climate change, they recommend international law changes to clarify definitions, rights, and procedures for climate-induced refugees and migrants, including development and implementation of appropriate financing measures. With respect to financing adaptation and mitigation efforts, they recommend directing a significant portion of the current climate funds to coastal and SIDS issues and developing supplementary financing to support adaptation and mitigation methods through innovative approaches and partnerships. Finally, with respect to capacity development, they recommend building up knowledge, tools, and scientific and political expertise to empower people to implement mitigation and adaptation measures, to increase adaptive management capacity, to create early warning systems, and to institute disaster risk reduction. They also recommend developing knowledge management mechanisms to share knowledge among all countries.

Authors: IBiliana Cicin-Sain, Julian Bariere, Hiroshi Terashima, Carol Turley, Rapahael Bille, Dorothee Herr, John Virdin, Meredith Kurz, Janot Mendler de Suarez, Miriam Balgos, Vinicius Lindoso, Kirsten Isensee, Tibor Vegh, Miko Maekawa, Edmund Hughes, Fredrik Haag, Edward Kleverlaan, Glen Wright, Kathy Baughman McLeod, Mike Donoghue, Warren Lee Long, Cassandra de Young, Lisa Levin, Natalya Gallo, Magdalena Muir, Tundi Agardy, Christophe Lefebvre, Doug Woodring, Philippe Vallette, Manuel Cira, Erica Wales, Ujwala Ramakrishna, Julie Steinberg, Meghan Rowe, Richard Bowers, Michael Burt, and Kateryna Wowk

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Blue Carbon

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Reports

Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean

Toward a Blue Economy: A promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean, a World Bank report co-authored by a Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions researcher, is a guide to help Caribbean policymakers plan a successful transition to a blue economy and socially equitable blue growth. This report attempts to quantify the current ocean economy in the region and summarize projections about where we may find new pockets of sustainable growth, and define the blue economy concepts and possible policy responses that might better align economic growth and environmental health in the Caribbean. At a global level, the transition to a blue economy will significantly contribute to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 for the ocean and other goals such as poverty reduction, food security, energy security, climate change mitigation, among others.

Authors: Pawan G. Patil, John Virdin, Sylvia Michele Diez, Julian Roberts, and Asha Singh

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Blue Economy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Reports

Pacific Possible: Tuna Fisheries

This World Bank report outlines a best-case scenario whereby improved management of tuna fisheries allows Pacific Island countries to gain as much as US$344 million per year in additional sustainable revenues and create 7,500 to 15,000 jobs by 2040. The report recommends five policy strategies: increased regional integration, efficient fishing practices and catch limits, flexible access and harvest rights for fleets, investment in skills and labor, and inclusion of coastal communities in fisheries planning. The report builds on work undertaken by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Pacific Community through the Regional Roadmap for Sustainable Pacific Fisheries, which was endorsed by Pacific Island Forum leaders in 2015. It is part of the World Bank’s Pacific Possible series, which explores potentially transformative opportunities for Pacific Island countries that warrant further research, understanding, and policy action.

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Tuna Fisheries

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Reports

Multiple Stressors and Ecological Complexity Require a New Approach to Coral Reef Research

Ocean acidification, climate change, and other environmental stressors threaten coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. New science reveals that these multiple stressors interact and may affect a multitude of physiological and ecological processes in complex ways. The interaction of multiple stressors and ecological complexity may mean that the negative effects on coral reef ecosystems will happen sooner and be more severe than previously thought. Yet, most research on the effects of global change on coral reefs focus on one or few stressors, pathways or outcomes. In the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, authors call for a regionally targeted strategy of mesocosm-level research that addresses this complexity and provides more realistic projections about coral reef impacts in the face of global environmental change. 

Authors: Linwood H. Pendleton, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Chris Langdon, and Adrien Comte

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Journal Articles

Building Capacity for Risk-based Management and Management Strategy Evaluation in U.S. Federal Fisheries: Discussion from the East Coast Forum, May 7–8, 2015, Beaufort, NC

The 2015 East Coast Forum convened by the Fisheries Leadership & Sustainability Forum (Fisheries Forum) explored opportunities for federal fishery managers to support effective treatment of uncertainty and risk through risk-based management approaches and management strategy evaluation. The success of federal fishery management plans requires managers to communicate effectively about uncertainty and risk and to make decisions that perform well under conditions of uncertainty and environmental change. By understanding and accounting for limitations on the information that supports decision making, fishery managers can make decisions that are likely to meet management objectives and that reflect an explicit risk tolerance. The Fisheries Forum convenes a series of forums for council members, council staff, and NOAA Fisheries staff. Each forum focuses on a topic with regional and national relevance. The forums are a unique opportunity for managers to explore emerging issues and questions and to share ideas and information across management regions.

Authors: Katie Latanich, Kim Gordon, and Caitlin Hamer

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Fisheries

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Fisheries

Proceedings

Coastal “Blue” Carbon: A Revised Guide to Supporting Coastal Wetland Programs and Projects Using Climate Finance and Other Financial Mechanisms

Coastal wetlands conservation and restoration efforts aim to preserve biodiversity and generate benefits to local communities. A diverse portfolio of financing sources has been used for these efforts, including philanthropy, multi- and bilateral aid, in-country governmental funding, tourism-related and other usage fees, and fees and levies associated with wetlands-centric extractive industries. More recently, recognition of coastal wetlands as carbon sinks has opened the door for wetland managers to explore funding sources directed toward climate change mitigation. But finding appropriate funding sources to set up a coastal wetland carbon project or to develop a national carbon program (which includes or is solely focused on coastal wetlands) is often a challenge. Additionally, carbon finance alone often cannot support the necessary management activities. This report updates Keep It Fresh or Salty: An Introductory Guide to Financing Wetland Carbon Projects and Programs (2014). It uses revised guidance for program and project developers (governments, NGOs, local communities) and extends analysis to other finance avenues that can link and complement carbon activities with non-carbon-based financing sources such as debt-for-nature swaps. Rather than recommending one mechanism over any other, it encourages users to think holistically about the range of benefits provided by coastal wetlands conservation for climate mitigation and adaptation in order to optimize the full range of financial mechanisms.

Authors: D. Herr, T. Agardy, D. Benzaken, F. Hicks, J. Howard, E. Landis, A. Soles, and T. Vegh, with prior contributions from E. Pidgeon, M. Silvius, and E. Trines

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Environmental Markets

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Marine Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Blue Carbon

Reports

Do Protected Areas Reduce Blue Carbon Emissions? A Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of Mangroves in Indonesia

Mangroves provide multiple ecosystem services such as blue carbon sequestration, storm protection, and unique habitat for species. Despite these services, mangroves are being lost at rapid rates around the world. Using the best available biophysical and socio-economic data, the authors present the first rigorous large-scale evaluation of the effectiveness of protected areas at conserving mangroves and reducing blue carbon emissions in the journal Ecological Economics. The analysis examines the success of protected areas in Indonesia between 2000 and 2010, finding that their use has avoided the loss of 14,000 hectares of mangrove habitat and approximately 13 million metric tons (carbon dioxide equivelent) of blue carbon emissions. 

Authors: Daniela A. Miteva, Brian C. Murray, and Subhrendu K. Pattanayak

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Blue Carbon

Environmental Markets

Climate and Energy

Ocean and Coastal Policy

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Blue Carbon

Journal Articles

Assessing the Economic Contribution of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in the Sargasso Sea

This report, which was revised April 2015, provides a variety of measures of the Sargasso Sea’s economic value and impact, especially net and gross revenues associated with ecosystem services supported by the sea. It captures just a small portion of these services and does not reflect their complete and total net value. Yet analysis of data on even this small portion suggests that the economic importance of the Sargasso Sea is significant. Economic expenditures and revenues directly or potentially linked to that sea range from tens to hundreds of million of dollars a year.

Authors: L. Pendleton, F. Krowicki, P. Strosser, and J. Hallett-Murdoch, Murdoch Marine

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Marine Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Environmental Economics

Reports

Lessons Learned from an Ecosystem-Based Management Approach to Restoration of a California Estuary

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is the dominant paradigm, at least in theory, for coastal resource management. However, there are still relatively few case studies illustrating thorough application of principles of EBM by stakeholders and decision makers. This Marine Policy article details work done at Elkhorn Slough, a California estuary. There, stakeholders collaboratively developed and evaluated large-scale restoration alternatives designed to decrease two types of rapid habitat change occurring in the estuary, erosion of channels and dieback of salt marsh. In the end, decision makers rejected large-scale alternatives altering the mouth of the estuary, and instead opted for small- to medium-scale restoration projects and recommended an added emphasis on reduction of nutrient-loading. The article describes seven challenges encountered during the application of EBM principles.

Author(s): Kerstin Wasson, Becky Suarez, Antonia Akhavan, Erin McCarthy, Judith Kildow, Kenneth S. Johnson, Monique C. Fountain, Andrea Woolfolk, Mark Silberstein, Linwood Pendleton, and Dave Feliz

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Ocean and Coastal Policy

Journal Articles

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