In May 2020, One Ocean Hub submitted written evidence to the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament International Development Committee on Climate, Development on the UK’s priority for hosting the Climate COP26. This blog post summarizes the recommendations we made to the UK Government so that its work on climate change, the ocean and development can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), taking the needs of low and middle-income countries and vulnerable groups into account.
Our recommendations focused on:
- promoting inter- and trans-disciplinarity and science/policy engagement on the nexus of climate change, oceans, biodiversity and human rights;
- scaling up research and mitigation processes to ocean-basin scale; and
- taking the UK’s international obligations related to capacity building seriously, recognizing diverse knowledge systems and support technology transfer, particularly in low and middle-income countries, so as to make lasting changes.
Our written evidence highlighted the nexus between the ocean, climate change, biodiversity, and human rights (see Morgera, Rees, Febrica, 20 November 2020). It stressed that climate adaptation and mitigation processes should be aimed at contributing to the well-being of societies, including indigenous peoples and local communities, together with maintaining as well as increasing the resilience of ecosystems and people. We drew attention to the important of intangible cultural heritage of the sea when we make decisions about our ocean, so as to open questions around how to include marginalized communities and indigenous peoples in the climate policy space (Kira Erwin, 2 April 2020).
While we acknowledge that Marine Protected Areas, ‘areas of the ocean set aside for long-term conservation’, support climate change adaptation and mitigation (IUCN, 2017), we also stressed that the creation of protected areas should respects human rights, particularly those of indigenous peoples and local communities (Morgera et.al., 20 November 2020). We also emphasized the need to understand the impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems, as well as on indigenous peoples and local communities that are most dependent on the ocean. To that end, we shared lessons learnt from local vulnerability assessments and their contributions to effective climate change adaptation planning by incorporating local and indigenous knowledge (Sowman, 30 November 2020).
- To promote inter- and trans-disciplinarity and science/policy engagement on the nexus of climate change, oceans, biodiversity and human rights.
Given the complexity of challenges posed by climate change, inter and trans-disciplinarity and science/policy engagement at different scales are key to build suitable adaptation and mitigation approaches (Murray Roberts’ presentation, 30 April 2020; Febrica, 29 April 2021). We shared our lessons learnt in integrating marine science and social sciences in ocean research, and in progressing towards trans-disciplinary ocean research, based on our earlier capacity-building events for the World Oceans Week 2020 and the UN Nippon Fellow Alumni capacity-building programme in 2020.
- To scale up research and mitigation process to ocean-basin scale
Due to the hyper-connectivity of ocean ecosystems, we need to scale-up our research to ocean-basin scale to understand the impacts and design appropriate mitigation strategies. For instance, to develop mitigation processes against the material loss and habitat crumbling of coral reefs we will need repeated measure studies on live and dead coral, and refined models are needed to identify tipping points of coral habitat loss and develop powerful monitoring tools (Hennige et.al, 2020). Only by understanding our vast ocean we will ultimately be able to support ‘future conservation and management efforts of these vulnerable marine ecosystems by indicating which ecosystems are at risk, when they will be at risk, and how much of an impact this will have upon associated biodiversity’ (Hennige et.al, 2020).
- To take capacity building, diverse knowledge and technology-transfer seriously, particularly in low and middle-income countries, so as to make lasting changes.
Investing in building people’ capacity is essential to address challenges posed by climate change with a view to making long-lasting change. We shared our experience of bringing together stakeholders to co-define challenges and co-develop potential solutions through a training session organized in collaboration with the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea on Climate Change: Impact and Adaptation for the UN Nippon Fellows and Alumni, the majority of whom are government officials from low and middle income countries. The training session highlighted the impacts of climate change on the oceans and coastal communities and provided an opportunity to discuss innovation and adaptation strategies that can support the sustainability of the oceans and the well-being of local communities.
Finally, we also underscored that capacity-building needs to be embedded in fair partnerships in international research collaboration to advance efforts at the nexus of climate change, biodiversity, ocean and human rights. We therefore shared our lessons learnt from the co-development with researchers and project partners of our Code of Practice to set out specific approaches to fair partnerships.