Global Future of the Environment

Global Future of the Environment

September 29, 2016

Ocean Degradation as a Source of Conflict

Camille Gaskin-Reyes

Secretary Kerry raises key points about the ocean's importance for the survival and nurturing of humanity. He also points out that while we have made advances on climate change and fisheries protection agreements, we cannot be complacent. The secretary's emphasis on the need for collective global action and the clear establishment of priorities is timely. As an example of recent U.S. Action, Secretary Kerry cites the recent establishment of protected ocean areas in Hawaii and other international agreements. He is clear in acknowledging that people know what to do but have to agree on how to move forward together. 

The world's nations can build upon such examples as Hawaii and establish many more protected areas, but globally they also have to tackle international predatory fishing, the illegal capture or trafficking of endangered fish species in international waters (the high seas), and take steps to avert a growing Tragedy of the Commons. 

In addition, countries and all stakeholders will have to agree on appropriate economic incentives, creative fishery management tools and stronger legal, regulatory and enforcement frameworks as global policy instruments to address declining fish stocks, ocean acidification, coral reef destruction, and widespread ocean pollution. 

The secretary's words are timely and represent a clarion call to other nations to grasp the potentially catastrophic consequences of dying oceans or degraded marine environments that can no longer provide sufficient food for humankind. 

This development would have the potential to heighten social, political, security and global conflicts worldwide. 

Dr. Camille Gaskin-Reyes is an adjunct professor at the Center for Latin American Studies in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She specializes in development policy and practice in Latin America and the Caribbean with special emphasis on sustainable development, natural resource, and water management as well as urban planning and municipal development strategies.

Other Responses

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Climate Change and the Oceans: Challenges Ahead

John Kerry | September 30, 2016

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Fishermen, Fish, and the Tragedy of the Commons

Paul Sullivan | September 30, 2016

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Our Ocean, One Future, Our Common Home

François Pazisnewende Kaboré | September 29, 2016

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A Global Commitment Grounded in Local Stories

Paulus Bambang Irawan | September 29, 2016

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Saving Our Oceans, Saving Ourselves

Randall Amster | September 29, 2016

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Everything is Interconnected

René Micallef | September 29, 2016

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Understanding our Oceans

Monica Mahal | September 28, 2016


About the Blog

Over the course of 2015 and 2016, the Global Future's Initiative invited the Georgetown University community to address four critical global issues: development, governance, security, and the environment.

During the fall 2016 semester, the Global Futures blog tracked a number of high-level events centered on the future of the environment. A series of lectures were co-sponsored with the Walsh School of Foreign Service, which emphasized the environment as a strategic centennial theme over the course of the 2016-2017 academic year.

Georgetown is home to a number of environment-related centers and programs in the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown College, and the Georgetown Law Center. Among these are the Georgetown Environment Initiative, the Center for the Environment, Georgetown Climate Center, and the Program on Science in the Public Interest.

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