Evaluating progress towards environmental sustainability goals can be difficult due to a lack of measurable benchmarks and insufficient or uncertain data. Marine settings are particularly challenging, as stakeholders and objectives tend to be less well defined and ecosystem components have high natural variability and are difficult to observe directly. Fuzzy logic expert systems are useful analytical frameworks to evaluate such systems, and we develop such a model here to formally evaluate progress towards sustainability targets based on diverse sets of indicators. Evaluation criteria include recent (since policy enactment) and historical (from earliest known state) change, type of indicators (state, benefit, pressure, response), time span and spatial scope, and the suitability of an indicator in reflecting progress toward a specific objective. A key aspect of the framework is that all assumptions are transparent and modifiable to fit different social and ecological contexts. We test the method by evaluating progress towards four Aichi Biodiversity Targets in Canadian oceans, including quantitative progress scores, information gaps, and the sensitivity of results to model and data assumptions. For Canadian marine systems, national protection plans and biodiversity awareness show good progress, but species and ecosystem states overall do not show strong improvement. Well-defined goals are vital for successful policy implementation, as ambiguity allows for conflicting potential indicators, which in natural systems increases uncertainty in progress evaluations. Importantly, our framework can be easily adapted to assess progress towards policy goals with different themes, globally or in specific regions.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are inherent to international commitments to protect the oceans and have the potential to recognize, honour, and re-invigorate Indigenous rights. Involvement of Indigenous peoples in the governance and management of MPAs, however, has received little attention. A review of the literature revealed only 15 publications on this topic (< 0.5% of papers on MPAs).
The Marine Affairs Program at Dalhousie University is seeking a candidate for an interdisciplinary PhD. Successful candidates will apply for admissions through the Interdisciplinary PhD Program at Dalhousie University. PhD: Socioeconomics of prioritizing network connectivity for MPAs Supervisors: Dr. Megan Bailey and Dr. Lucia Fanning Funding: Three years of NSERC stipend Start date: January 2017 Description: The […]