Boundary work on ocean space: Competing knowledge claims in the making of marine protected areas
University of Vienna, Austria
States have endorsed an exercise to designate ecologically or biologically significant marine areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity. They identify marine areas in need of protection through regional workshops and shared criteria for future marine protected areas. The identification process of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas provides a unique case for studying interrelations between science and Indigenous and local knowledge, along with the role of knowledge in multilateral environmental policy-making. We combine the ‘boundary work’ concept with insights from critical geography and practice approaches to elucidate boundary practices. These highlight actors’ efforts to demarcate ecologically or biologically significant marine areas; limit what could be considered Indigenous and local knowledge; negotiate the boundaries of marine areas needing protection, and the boundaries between science and Indigenous and local knowledge. We problematize conventional ocean protection views and knowledge selection patterns that solidified ecologically or biologically significant marine areas. We draw on ethnography during the 14th and 15th Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, four Workshops to identify ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, and interviews to reconstruct boundary practices and analyse how boundaries between knowledge types were negotiated on-site. Our analysis shows that political and territorial interests are deeply embedded in the process of identification of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, challenging the integration of science and Indigenous and local knowledge. This highlights the need to conceive the ocean as a fluid space where territorialism hinders marine biodiversity protection.
The role of “knowledge” in water quality governance in the United States
1Pennsylvania State University, United States of America; 2University of Connecticut, United States of America
Worsening water quality around the world impacts human and ecological health; restoring and preserving water quality for current and future generations requires collaborative governance approaches that balance sometimes conflicting or competing values and diverse knowledges to form evidence-based, implementable solutions to address water quality challenges. A critical step in this process is the sourcing, synthesis and application of data and knowledge from a variety of sources, including inter-alia scientific research, traditional ecological knowledge, and community-based or state led monitoring programs as well as navigating different data and information management systems. While prior research recognizes the importance of knowledge in good water quality governance, there is yet insufficient understanding of how the context in which this knowledge is developed influences its sourcing, synthesis, and application in water quality governance. In this paper, we conduct a systematic review to look at “what” and “whose” knowledge and “how” that knowledge came to be produced and applied in water quality governance in the United States. The objective is to shed light on the polycentric nature of knowledge production, the mechanisms of its utilization, and the actors, institutions and networks involved in marshalling knowledge for water quality governance. By illuminating the dynamic interaction between these elements, we hope to better understand how different types of knowledges and knowledge systems are used or not to shape water quality governance in the United States.
Here to Stay? Challenges to Liberal Environmentalism in Regional Climate Governance
University of Bremen, Germany
While regionalism is highly relevant in many policy fields today, regional idiosyncrasies have been poorly understood in the literature on multilateral climate governance. This article explores regional ideas of climate governance by comparing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Council of Baltic Sea States (CBSS). As international climate governance has institutionalized a normative compromise of liberal environmentalism since the 1990s, the article further assesses ideational challenges to this compromise. It examines how these ideas have evolved over time and explains variation between the organizations through the advent of new knowledge. Relying on qualitative content analysis of published documents as well as interviews with officials, the article finds that both CARICOM and CBSS have supported and reproduced liberal environmentalism in the past. More recently, CARICOM has started to connect climate change with notions of survival and justice, implicitly challenging liberal environmentalism, while CBSS firmly remains within established discourses of sustainable development and green growth. The article then argues that the advent of new knowledge from both scientific as well as anecdotal sources can explain the evolution of ideas in regional organizations. Problem definitions of climate change may evolve within regional organizations when officials gain new insights into scientific data from climate research, and are able to combine or confirm them with anecdotal experience from their day-to-day work.
Deliberation for Transformation: Exploring approaches for (self-)reflexivity and deliberation on the responsibility and ramifications of safe and just operating spaces for humanity and the planet
Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Reflexivity, as a general governance capability, has long been suggested as a valuable element of environmental governance, both due to the inertia in the systems that need to be changed and the complex nature of environmental problems that are also often characterized by complexity, often surrounded by uncertainty, and have implications for core dimensions of modern societies. Ecological reflexivity is a more specific elaboration of reflexivity in governance and has been conceptualized, in brief, as the capacity of an entity to recognize its impacts on social–ecological systems, rethink its core values and practices in light of this and respond as elaborated further below. In this paper, we seek to operationalize how actors/stakeholders in diverse institutional contexts (private–public–civil society) can acquire some degree of ecological reflexivity as an element of engaging in change processes. Based on a review of conceptual and empirical literatures on requirements for and experiences with deliberation and reflection in relation to environmental challenges, we explore diverse approaches to help individuals and groups in various contexts engage in inclusive deliberation on their own role and responsibility. As a concrete anchor point for such deliberation of responsibility, we use the concept of safe and just operating spaces for climate change, biodiversity, and people. Learning how to systematically and inclusively reflect on their own potential role in the required change and deliberate on action is, we propose, an essential capacity for becoming agents of (transformative) change.
Who sits at the table for the oceans? Access, participation, and inequality in representation in BBNJ and deep-sea mining negotiations
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
In the 21st century, ocean governance has been characterized by increasing transformations driven by technological advances, pressure from industrial sectors to expand the exploitation of marine resources and the need for sustainable use. Thus there is a growing concern with the regulation of human activities in areas perceived as gaps in global ocean governance architecture, which is translated into multilateral negotiation initiatives. In this respect, two issues are relevant and currently being negotiated, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) and deep-sea mining. The aim of this paper is to understand these negotiation processes through an investigation of access and participation of delegations, contributing to the study of agency and representation asymmetries within ocean governance. Based on international negotiation and bureaucracy studies, it is proposed an analytical framework of delegations profile in multilateral negotiations, which assesses quantity, diversity and institutional links of delegates, as well as an examination of constraints in access and participation in these formal settings of bargaining. Our hypothesis is that lack of transparency, barriers to access and inequality in representation lead to power asymmetries and negotiation capacity disparities, thus raising questions of equity in ocean governance. Regarding our object of investigation, we analyze lists of participants, official documents and reports of the Intergovernmental Conference on BBNJ, beginning in 2018 and currently in its fifth session, and the 27th Session of the International Seabed Authority. Subsequently, data from the multilateral meetings are interpreted and compared in the context of negotiation processes. Initial results show that both conferences presented constraints to access to negotiations, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the latter sessions, participation of civil society has been limited, incurring a lack of transparency. Furthermore, there is inequality in participation, not only due to a lack of recurrent presence of developing states in negotiations but also due to variations in the composition of delegations. At the BBNJ Conference, there are asymmetries of representation in favor of those few actors who have great marine resource exploration capacities. In negotiations, larger and more diverse delegations use their resources, while delegations with greater limitations acknowledge structural adversities and seek alternatives. It is concluded that progress in global ocean governance is constrained by power disparities among agents, reproduced in multilateral settings through inequality in participation, raising concerns about the scope and the effectiveness of potential international agreements, as well as questions of equity.