This report summarises key trends in climate change legislation and litigation. It is the sixth stock-take in a series of global Climate Legislation Studies that dates back to 2010. The 2017 edition covers legislative activities in 164 countries, up from 99 countries in 2015. For the first time, this edition also includes analysis of climate change litigation.
Governance and Legal Frameworks
Challenges of governance often constitute critical obstacles to efforts to equitably improve livelihoods in social-ecological systems. Yet, just as often, these challenges go unspoken, or are viewed as fixed parts of the context, beyond the scope of influence of agricultural, development, or natural resource management initiatives. What does it take to get governance obstacles and opportunities out in the open, creating the space for constructive dialogue and collective action that can help to address them? We respond to this question by comparing experiences of participatory action research (PAR) in coastal and floodplain systems in four countries (Zambia, Solomon Islands, Bangladesh, and Cambodia) with a focus on understanding how to build more equitable governance arrangements. We found that governance improvement was often an implicit or secondary objective of initiatives that initially sought to address more technical natural resource or livelihood-related development challenges. We argue that using PAR principles of ownership, equity, shared analysis, and feedback built trust and helped to identify and act upon opportunities to address more difficult-to-shift dimensions of governance particularly in terms of stakeholder representation, distribution of authority, and accountability. Our findings suggest that the engaged and embedded approach of researcher-facilitators can help move from identifying opportunities for governance change to supporting stakeholders as they build more equitable governance arrangements.
Goal 14 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognises the continued pressure on marine ecosystems and the need to implement performance based management arrangements for fisheries. Reformulating governance arrangements are prerequisites for achieving this: rectifying gaps while giving effect to existing hortatory obligations enable effective management decisions including for new and/or emerging issues such as climate change. This is particularly evident in the Indian Ocean, which is surrounded by developing states, and where the climate change impacts already evident. Indian Ocean fisheries governance arrangements are also imperfect: there is incomplete coverage of highly migratory species and high seas areas; and no one organisation where all relevant states share membership. Furthermore, the limited resources of developing coastal states restricts the ability to effectively understand and sustainably manage the resources. If developing coastal states are to meet 21st century challenges, governance arrangements must be modernised to address species, spatial and membership gaps while supporting the implementation of hortatory obligations and ocean-wide, cross-sectorial and cross-jurisdictional programs that: facilitate ocean-wide scientific monitoring of ecological processes and anthropogenic impacts, and enable integrated monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of fishing with the adopted management measures to improve certainty of the management.
Impressive numbers of global and regional governmental and non-governmental organizations are working in the field of the marine environment and its resources. Many of these organizations operate within international legal frameworks ranging from comprehensive global conventions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to regional agreements aiming at protection and development of regional seas. Characteristic for the management of these seas, both at the national and international level, is that sectoral approaches predominate. Over time, several initiatives have been taken to improve cooperation, coordination and integration to achieve greater coherence of policies and strategies between different organizations dealing with marine and maritime management, within and outside the United Nation system. However, the success has been limited. The weaknesses of international organizations depend fundamentally on problems at the national level. The international organizations are no stronger than their Contracting Parties allow them to be.
Fisheries have had major negative impacts on marine ecosystems, and effective fisheries management and governance are needed to achieve sustainable fisheries, biodiversity conservation goals and thus good ecosystem status. To date, the IndiSeas programme (Indicators for the Seas) has focussed on assessing the ecological impacts of fishing at the ecosystem scale using ecological indicators. Here, we explore fisheries ‘Management Effectiveness’ and ‘Governance Quality’ and relate this to ecosystem health and status. We developed a dedicated expert survey, focused at the ecosystem level, with a series of questions addressing aspects of management and governance, from an ecosystem-based perspective, using objective and evidence-based criteria. The survey was completed by ecosystem experts (managers and scientists) and results analysed using ranking and multivariate methods. Results were further examined for selected ecosystems, using expert knowledge, to explore the overall findings in greater depth. Higher scores for ‘Management Effectiveness’ and ‘Governance Quality’ were significantly and positively related to ecosystems with better ecological status. Key factors that point to success in delivering fisheries and conservation objectives were as follows: the use of reference points for management, frequent review of stock assessments, whether Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) catches were being accounted for and addressed, and the inclusion of stakeholders. Additionally, we found that the implementation of a long-term management plan, including economic and social dimensions of fisheries in exploited ecosystems, was a key factor in successful, sustainable fisheries management. Our results support the thesis that good ecosystem-based management and governance, sustainable fisheries and healthy ecosystems go together.
Climate change will affect all types of infrastructure, including energy, transport and water. Rising temperatures, increased flood risk and other potential hazards will threaten the reliable and efficient operation of these networks, with potentially large economic and social impacts. Decisions made now about the design, location and operation of infrastructure will determine how resilient they will be to a changing climate.
This paper provides a framework for action aimed at national policymakers in OECD countries to help them ensure new and existing infrastructure is resilient to climate change. It examines national governments’ action in OECD countries, and provides recent insights from professional and industry associations, development banks and other financial institutions on how to make infrastructure more resilient to climate change.
The protection of intertidal ecosystems is complex because they straddle both marine and terrestrial realms. This leads to inconsistent characterisation as marine and/or terrestrial systems, or neither. Vegetated intertidal ecosystems are especially complex to classify because they can have an unclear border with terrestrial vegetation, causing confusion around taxonomy (e.g., mangrove-like plants). This confusion and inconsistency in classification can impact these systems through poor governance and incomplete protection. Using Australian mangrove ecosystems as a case study, we explore the complexity of how land and sea boundaries are defined among jurisdictions and different types of legislation, and how these correspond to ecosystem boundaries. We demonstrate that capturing vegetated intertidal ecosystems under native vegetation laws and prioritizing the mitigation of threats with a terrestrial origin offers the greatest protection to these systems. We also show the impact of inconsistent boundaries on the inclusion of intertidal ecosystems within protected areas. The evidence presented here highlights problems within the Australian context, but most of these issues are also challenges for the management of intertidal ecosystems around the world. Our study demonstrates the urgent need for a global review of legislation governing the boundaries of land and sea to determine whether the suggestions we offer may provide global solutions to ensuring these critical systems do not fall through the cracks in ecosystem protection and management.
Over the last decades, the Arctic environment as a whole altered dramatically due to the impacts of climate change. Troubling rates of Arctic sea ice melt—with a projected ice-free summer in mere decades—may allow for unprecedented economic activity, such as a rise in navigation via the emerging Arctic Sea Routes, as well as the extraction of offshore living and nonliving resources. Considered to be one of Earth’s final pristine ecosystems, the Arctic’s unique marine ecosystem also boasts a wealth of nonliving resources. The region holds incredible biodiversity and supports adaptive capacities for species in extreme environmental conditions. Amid new optimism regarding commercial conquests, the marine ecosystem critical to Arctic species resilience is at risk. The following chapter, developed from our previously published article “Legal Instruments for Marine Sanction in the High Arctic,” reviews the rationale for protecting marine biodiversity in Arctic waters and examines the existing legal framework for marine protected area creation, as well as its limits. Specifically considering the challenge of protecting marine life in the High Arctic area beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), the chapter first critically examines the call for an “Antarctic modeled” legal designation for the entire Arctic high sea area as a marine protected area, concluding the idea to be largely impractical for the geographically and politically dissimilar pole. Next we examine three other potential legal mechanisms for MPA creation in Arctic’s areas beyond national jurisdiction: an UNCLOS implementing agreement, an additional protocol to the UNCBD, and a regional agreement. Based on our analysis, we argue that a complementary, regional legal regime for MPA creation in the High Arctic would offer a pathway to adequate protection while being more politically feasible than other alternatives.
Biodiversity underpins ecosystem services. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has adopted an ecosystem services approach as a framework for biodiversity management at the national level. Protection of ecosystem services requires far more than traditional nature conservation measures like the designation and management of protected areas. The economic sectors that affect biodiversity and ecosystem services must be involved, to address not merely the symptoms but the root causes of the degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Achieving coherence in policies and actions across economic sectors and the changes involved in values, decision-making and practices, requires legal approaches to ensure buy-in and accountability. Ideally, such approaches should be included in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), the key instrument for translating the CBD into national action. A review of 20 revised NBSAPs shows that such measures have been introduced only to a very limited extent with many countries still in the earliest stages of preparing measures to protect ecosystem services. Thus, there is a need for further research and practical guidance regarding legal approaches to ecosystem services.
A growing field of sustainability science examines how environments are transformed through polycentric governance. However, many studies are only snapshot analyses of the initial design or the emergent structure of polycentric regimes. There is less systematic analysis of the longitudinal robustness of polycentric regimes. The problem of robustness is approached by focusing not only on the structure of a regime but also on its context and effectiveness. These dimensions are examined through a longitudinal analysis of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) governance regime, drawing on in-depth interviews and demographic, economic, and employment data, as well as organizational records and participant observation. Between 1975 and 2011, the GBR regime evolved into a robust polycentric structure as evident in an established set of multiactor, multilevel arrangements addressing marine, terrestrial, and global threats. However, from 2005 onward, multiscale drivers precipitated at least 10 types of regime change, ranging from contextual change that encouraged regime drift to deliberate changes that threatened regime conversion. More recently, regime realignment also has occurred in response to steering by international organizations and shocks such as the 2016 mass coral-bleaching event. The results show that structural density and stability in a governance regime can coexist with major changes in that regime’s context and effectiveness. Clear analysis of the vulnerability of polycentric governance to both diminishing effectiveness and the masking effects of increasing complexity provides sustainability science and governance actors with a stronger basis to understand and respond to regime change.