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Academic Year 2020/21

Georgios Pazaitis (2021)

Environment Bill 2020 – Strengthening Biodiversity Protection in the UK post Brexit through a Multi-criteria Target-based Ecological Compensation

See the transcript for Georgios' pitch presentation.

Executive Summary

Given the alarming decline of biological diversity in the UK, new provisions for the halt and reversal of biodiversity loss are proposed under the 2020 Environment Bill as part of new legislation to strengthen UK environmental protection measures post-Brexit. The bill seeks to implement biodiversity offsetting in the planning system to reconcile tensions between developmental needs and environmental protection. However, scrutiny of the proposed measures and of the planning system as their context show them to be ill-equipped to tackle biodiversity loss for two reasons. First, given its inability to account for the complexity of assessing technical and social biodiversity values, and the high default rate at achieving ecological equivalence, offsetting is deemed an inappropriate mechanism to achieve the proposed objective of ‘net biodiversity gain’. Second, the positioning of the offsetting scheme as a form of contractual governance in the planning system is expected to lead to a bias towards developer interests and weakening-effect on conservation efforts. Policy responses to biodiversity loss must acknowledge trade-offs between development and biodiversity protection and address the short-comings of technical offsetting processes. The bill must therefore be amended to implement in the planning system an environmental protection statute complemented by a target-based ecological compensation scheme that creates a biodiversity commission to define regional and national conservation and restoration targets. Planning decisions should be guided by a local multi-criteria evaluation framework that involves the public into planning decisions and is informed by the commission’s restoration targets to produce alternative scenarios of socio-ecological development that igude planning approval processes.

Hazel Bamford (2021)

Pharmaceuticals in European freshwater: The need for green pharmacy

A packet of blue and green tablets

Executive Summary

Pharmaceutical compounds entering the environment present a major risk to human medicine, wildlife and biodiversity. The main source that compounds enter the environment is via water systems- leaching from farmland, human excrement and aquaculture. Current water treatment facilities are inadequate and are known to increase antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Strategies to influence prescribers and drug users have proven successful on a local scale, and drug takeback schemes have the potential to significantly reduce entrance of drugs into the environment. Such schemes are scalable to the whole of the EU. Many used and excreted drugs remain active in the environment, and therefore impact the physiology and behaviour of wildlife. Certain endocrine disrupting compounds are known to cause problems with human development and reproductive health- both in men and women. Many pharmaceutical compounds are currently found in drinking water, food and the environment. Compounds found include over the counter drugs such as painkillers, and prescription drugs: antibiotics and human hormones, amongst others, but at a low concentration that a therapeutic dose is not reached for humans of any particular drug. It is preferable to limit routes of entry over relying on innovation and further research due to uncertainty, and time constraints- compounds build in concentration over time.

Download the full 2,000 word Policy Briefing

Naomi Carter (2021)

Strengthening Indigenous Land Rights in the Face of Rapid Oil Palm Expansion in Kalimantan, Indonesia


Executive Summary

Rapid oil palm expansion is a primary cause of deforestation and peatland drainage / burning in Indonesia,
with Central Kalimantan suffering some of the highest rates of land-use change in the country. This
threatens transgression of land-system change thresholds, in turn increasing the pressures on climate
change, aerosol loading, biogeochemical flows, freshwater use and biosphere integrity boundaries.

Securing adat (customary) land tenure is a vital way to maintain social and ecological sustainability,
preserving indigenous forest management techniques and reducing land-system change. However,
government actions have failed to resolve ongoing land conflict and contradictory land claims, thanks to
continued oil palm industry influence in local governance, devolution of natural resource governance, poor
institutional capacity, failure to involve local stakeholders, and a failure of certification schemes to
address land conflicts.

Thus, local governments must work with adat communities to strengthen indigenous land tenure,
recognition of adat lands and local involvement in natural resource decision making. Taking a bottom-up
and political ecology approach to preventing private oil pam expansion will reduce negative land use
change and enhance local social, economic, and environmental sustainability. This is essential for the
maintenance of local and regional ecosystem services, and the preservation of global Earth System

Harry Cheung (2021)

Changing UK Dietary and Consumer Habits To Limit Climate Change

Protest photo. A child is holding a sign that says 'There is no planet B'

Executive Summary

The food system is responsible for over 1/3 of global greenhouse gas(GHG) emissions. The UK’s food system is a significant contributor, generating about 152-159Mt of CO2 annually, making up approximately 20% of UK’s consumption based emissions. This sector must be addressed as we enter into an era of climate crises, having already transgressed safe operating spaces for climate change. With population growth likely to continue for the next few decades, the demand for food will only increase, which makes addressing food system issues an even more urgent priority, especially with events like the global pandemic diverting attention away from various projects aimed towards climate change. There are currently no legal frameworks for food waste, and the general direction for the future of the food system is still ambiguous, with no clear plans to develop a sustainable pathway able to feed a growing population. Although no perfect solution exists, there are many opportunities towards improving efficiency and reducing emissions throughout the whole food supply chain (FSC). A combination of market based approaches, along with indirect command and control interventions which aim to nudge the population into behavioural changes along with attitudinal shifts in diets, may be the most effective way forward in terms of minimising the food system's pressures on the climate, therefore helping UK fulfil its net zero ambitions, meeting SDG goals, and staying in line with the Paris Agreement. The FSC is complexly interlinked and any changes will have some element of unpredictably and unintended consequences, but for the sole purpose of achieving a sustainable future for the food system in a realistic way that minimises damage on the environmental, new policies would be required to target food waste reductions through the removal of multi-pack discounts, the imposition of taxes for animal products, innovation for plant-based alternatives, a revision of food labelling systems, and finally encouraging consumers to choose local, organic and seasonal produce, instead of promoting Mediterranean diets.

Karis Chung (2021)

Loss of biosphere integrity: A Call to Monitor habitat degradation and Manage natural reserves in Southwest China, Yunnan

Rice terraces in Yunnan, China

Executive Summary

Yunnan is one of the poorest regions of China and is also the province with the richest biodiversity in China. With rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, urban lands increase from 18.64km2 to 36.81km2 to enhance economic development, but the expanding constructions and pollutions led to decreasing ecosystem services which worsen ecosystem functioning. Biodiversity-wise, Yunnan is biologically abundant with a vast territory with diversified nature reserves. This ‘Wildlife Kingdom’ has a rich biodiversity of more than 1800 high plant species (51.6% of China’s total) and 1836 vertebrate species (54.8% of China’s total).(Yang et al, 2004). However, Yunnan’s biodiversity is experiencing the menace of massive exploitation of resources and extinction of species like Yunnan snub-nosed monkey caused by the activities of an expanding human population.

Rapid urbanisation affects the provision of ecosystem services for biodiversity conservation, reducing the full-range benefits human obtain from nature. The regulating and supporting services like continuous nutrient cycling deteriorate, negatively impact the functional and genetic biodiversity in Yunnan.

Moreover, in terms of natural reserves (NRs), there are 161 NRs in Yunnan, which consists 7.6% of the province’s land area, and these NRs provide valuable repositories for native biodiversity.(Qiu et al., 2018) From the 1990s, native biodiversity is threatened by population expansion around NRs, fragmentation and loss of habitat due to logging.

With the situation aforementioned, it is urgent to take actions. Policy suggested focus on three aspects: mandatory, monetary and voluntary. In the policy below, it will target on monitoring habitat degradation on human behaviour and management in natural reserves regionally. By authorising government officials to establish more statistical researches for effective management in biodiversity conservation and promoting more community involvement in ecological conservation.

Maya Crockwell (2021)

Fresh Water Supply and Utilization by The Global Food System: Regulation of Water Appropriation in Developing Countries by Explicitly Addressing Green Water Grabbing within Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

river through a rainforest

Executive Summary

Water scarcity has become one of the most challenging issues for developing countries, as they are economically dependent on agricultural institutions that continue to appropriate water supply within and beyond the basin scale. From assessing the existing governance of two main regulated global water convention frameworks, the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational of International Watercourses (UNWC) and the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water convention, there are gaps within these frameworks resulting in a lack of policy on ‘invisible’ water sources creating multiple avenues for green water grabbing that is detrimental on water supply. Thus, policies must be implemented to understand land acquisition problems from a hydrological context to provide sustainable water regulation without jeopardizing economic growth in developing countries. Thus, it is suggested that a Multilateral Environmental Agreement should be adopted explicitly addressing green water and water grabbing by implementing policies that mitigate water related risks of LSLA in both sustainable land and water managements/practices.

Download the full 2,000 word Policy Briefing

Tash Doole (2021)

Preventing Future Pandemics: Controlling Zoonoses and Human-Animal Contact by Reducing Biodiversity Loss

Green trees near a river with a road running through the trees to the river

Executive Summary

Zoonotic diseases are on the rise and with this comes the increased risk of pandemics. The main causes driving this growth are land-system changes and biodiversity loss, also referred to as biosphere integrity. By maintaining and restoring biodiversity, contact between humans and wild species will be reduced and the dilution effect will be heightened. This decreases the potential for animal-to-human disease transmission whilst also promoting the health of the planet. Although the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) currently have policies in place regarding this issue, they do not go into enough detail to be of any use, and new reports are suggesting that they have not been very effective, and many targets have not been achieved. Two new policies can be introduced and managed by UNEP with the aim of mitigating future pandemics. Firstly, negative incentives and subsidies which promote biodiversity loss need to be removed. Secondly, deforestation and habitat loss needs to be tackled by creating protected areas. Finally, in addition to the two new policies, there needs to be an ongoing conversation between UNEP and the public to raise awareness about how integral biodiversity is in the mitigation of epidemics, something at the forefront of people’s minds due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

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Louis Dyson (2021)

Land-System Change Minimising Deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest in Response to Increasing Meat Consumption

Cattle stood on a road in the Amazon Rainforest

Image credit: Kate Evans/CIFOR

Executive Summary

The Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world, has been impacted by massive deforestation over the past few decades as farmers and cattle ranchers burn down large parts of the forest to make space for pastures for the highly polluting beef industry, which continues to threaten the entire planet by accelerating the march of global warming. The majority of the Amazon Rainforest, approximately 60%, is currently under the control of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, but the current conservation strategies that they have implemented are severely inadequate, showing an inability to accurately monitor and conserve the ecosystem, largely due to insufficient funding, which was already small before the current Bolsonaro government came into power and cut the funds even more. In order to preserve the Amazon rainforest, as well as the cattle ranching industry, which is crucial to its economy, the Brazilian Government must redirect their efforts towards conserving the rainforest, with a focus on reducing deforestation due to cattle farming practices by properly enforcing the laws and guidelines currently in place under the 2012 Forest Code, punishing breaches of laws, and increasing funding to the organisms responsible for their enforcement. In addition, they must focus on making the cattle farming industry itself more sustainable by providing incentives for sustainable practices and afforestation, as well as both financial and educational aid to farmers so that the whole industry can become more sustainable, with the overall objective of slowing deforestation and the march of climate change.

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Annabelle Early (2021)

The World Health Organisation must declare climate change a public health emergency: a critical step to mitigate the risk of future coronavirus spillover.

Brown bats hanging in a tree

Executive Summary

Anthropogenic activity is leading to the enhanced greenhouse effect and in turn global climate change. Climate change is an imminent threat to public health. One consequence of changing climates is species range shift. Many bat species have experienced range shift, altering bat species diversity within an area and proximity to humans. With increased bat species richness, bat borne coronavirus diversity also increases, increasing the probability of spillover events to the human population. By 20th August 2021 ~4.4 million people globally have died from COVID-19 which originated from bats, demonstrating the urgent need for action from the WHO: the WHO must declare climate change a public health emergency of international concern to mitigate the risk of future spillover events. In declaring climate change a public health emergency, the WHO should take policy action in three key areas: directly reducing emissions from the healthcare sector through education campaigns, and by lobbying pharmaceutical companies; indirectly reducing emissions through public health campaigns that have co-benefits for the environment; and the establishment of a zoonoses surveillance system to mitigate the probability of a future spillover event leading to an outbreak.

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Kathryn Files (2021)

Ozone Depletion: The need to prevent a global catastrophe, even after the Montreal Protocol

Birds flying over sea and sand with the sun in the background

Executive Summary

Ozone depletion has been identified as a tipping point for planetary health, a problem that needs to be addressed to ensure life on earth continues. Ozone acts as a natural barrier to harmful radiation wavelengths, as well as providing ecological niches for species survival. The last 50 years have seen developments in understanding ozone and depletion caused by anthropogenic action, including the implementation of the Montreal Protocol as a landmark agreement of international cooperation. Yet, recent discoveries have shown that there are still problems surrounding ozone depletion and action must be taken to avoid transgressing a boundary for planetary survival. Oceans, which have often been considered as stores of harmful ozone-depleting substances, are now becoming emitters that threaten to overwhelm a system that has only recently started repairing with the introduction of regulatory policy. In order to mitigate the possible problems, recommendations include a wider emissions ban, including HCFC’s; policy action on climate change and ocean acidification, following the previous work of Kyoto and the Paris Climate Agreement; phase out schemes and comprehensive research investments for alternatives; changes to current climate change proposals, specifically geoengineering; focusing solutions on land emissions rather than on oceanic stores; acting quickly to implement policies based on the precautionary principle to minimise further damage and constructing and enforcing an appropriate monitoring and sanctioning scheme for compliance on existing agreements.

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Margret Fridriksdottir (2021)

Deforestation in Peru: How Social Investment for Coca Farmers Can Help Halt Deforestation

Cacao tree

Executive Summary

Peru struggles with mass deforestation of its Amazonian rainforest, partly as a result of illicit coca production. This is dangerous as the Peruvian Amazon Forest is home to some of the greatest biodiversity on earth, as well as being a massive terrestrial carbon sink. It also sustains the hydrological cycle. In other words, losing the Peruvian Amazon Forest would have devastating consequences to the earth’s climate, biodiversity and humanity. It is estimated that about 10% of the deforestation in Peru in the 20th century has been as a result of coca production. Although the UNODC have been trying to win the war on drugs by implementing alternative development policies, coca production does not seem to be decreasing. Other methods such as aerial spraying have proven to be both politically and environmentally damaging. The UNODC must focus on other policies, such as social investment and ensuring that aerial spraying is prohibited to avoid further deforestation and biodiversity loss as a result of coca production.

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Holly Fry (2021)

Preventing the Loss of Flamingos in the Atacama Desert

Mating Ritual: James's Flamingo Original caption:

Image credit: Pedro Szekely/Wikimedia Commons

Executive Summary

Flamingos are under threat from human activity in the Atacama Desert (figure 1). Mining, particularly copper and lithium, is causing flamingos to experience a loss in population and changes to their reproductive and migration patterns. The mineral rich brine so coveted by mining companies effects flamingos and as well as an abundance of other life that habits these brine pools. Flamingos depend on the conditions and availability of these pools and, as crucial species, their survival impacts the stability of this ecosystem. The ecosystem does not only hold environmental importance but also economic. Mining production is a key pillar of Chile’s economy and continues to expand in the Atacama Desert as the demand for electric cars and technology booms. In the future, if action is not taken, economic exploitation could leave the Atacama Desert unable to support flamingo’s life as well as human activity - meaning mining would have to stop all together. To prevent this, Chile must move away from privatisation and state control as it’s proving ineffective. NGOs must become the prominent influencer regarding environmental action in the Atacama Desert. Ostrom’s approach to the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ should be adopted, and regular meeting’s let by NGOs between the local community, mining companies, and relevant government figures should be held. Mining companies must prioritise sustainability and equally respect the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental. Independent non-bias monitoring of mining companies and enforcing ‘The Requirements’ will ensure this. ‘The Requirements’ are a set of legally binding requirements that will determine mining quotas will be a financial motivation for mining companies. Finally, to stop exploitation, brine must be classed as water rather than an economic good.

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Katie Heppell (2021)

UK Agricultures Impact on Biosphere Integrity: Improving and Aligning Current Policies Across All Government Departments

Syngenta and Arcadis: Enhancing Biodiversity in Agricultural Landscapes -  World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Agriculture has been a leading driver in biosphere integrity loss for decades, the use of pesticides, fertilisers, and excessive consumption of meat wreaks-havoc on British farmland, which covers 69% of England. In a new Farming age outside of the European union’s CAP, Britain has proposed some new solutions to ‘farm for the future’. These include the replacement of subsides with the ‘Sustainable Farming Incentive’ which provides monetary rewards for those that aid environmental restoration. However, these policies need to be implemented more swiftly and favour small-scale farms to maximise biodiversity. At a more individual level we also strongly suggest the reduction of food waste and meat intake, to take pressure off the agricultural industry and ease the transition to what the food industry will look like with a larger population. Despite these ambitious policies many financial sectors in the UK fail to align with goals to protect biodiversity. The UK’s relationships with other countries through the trade of pesticides and funding deforestation in the Amazon reverse any progress that could have been made. To reduce activities like these occurring the Environmental Bill requires serious amendments.

Download the full 2,000 word Policy Briefing

Lola Hunt (2021)

Protecting Marine Life through the Strengthening of Global Plastic Pollution Governance during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic

polluted ocean

Executive Summary

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented responses worldwide to prevent the spread of the virus, greatly changing daily life globally. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a crucial measure used to reduce the spread of Covid-19, preventing more infections and deaths. Waste disposal systems have struggled to manage the immense increase in infectious medical waste such as PPE. This, combined with increased levels of litter, has led to PPE found in oceans increasing rapidly.

PPE, a form of marine plastic pollution (MPP), poses risks to all marine life. Risks vary from entanglement of turtles to the ingestion of micro and nanoplastics by sardines. This has had and continues to have devastating impacts on marine life: the deaths of apex predators, the introduction of invasive species and bioaccumulation of microplastics in food chains. Current governance surrounding PPE pollution in oceans is limited, whilst general MPP governance is weak, patchworked and fails to take strong action.

There is a need for governance proposals that acknowledge the trade-off between the immediate protection of humanity and the protection of planetary health and hence humanity’s future. There is an imminent need for the establishment of an international organisation dedicated to the prevention of MPP, to provide a coordinated fight against this ecological crisis. Their action should focus on four main areas: preventing land based sources of MPP, mitigating the impacts of essential plastics, innovating by developing alternatives to current plastics and cooperating between nations.

Download the full 2,000 word Policy Briefing

Maya Kiran (2021)

Lake Erie Conservation: Tackling Phosphorus Eutrophication

Lake Erie

Executive Summary

Located on the international border between Canada and The United States, Lake Erie is home to 1500 species and supports millions of families on a transboundary level. The Great Lakes support over 30 million people, accounting for 10 percent of the US population and 30 percent of the Canadian population. In the last 100 years, Lake Erie has been subjected to eutrophication that is human induced as a result of anthropogenic and ecological pressures. Excessive phosphorus concentrations as a result of non-point agricultural run-off are a major contributing factor to the growth of Harmful Algae Blooms in Lake Erie. This excessive growth of HABs lead to hypoxic environments, wherein submerged plants and animals cannot survive, creating ‘dead zones’. This causes a chain reaction within an ecosystem, causing ecological damage and jeopardizing ecosystem services. These blooms are the leading cause of water pollution and have emerged as a major regional and global environmental issue. Initiatives to restore Lake Erie have been launched since the 1970s but have been criticized for a lack of enforcement and coordination. This document will outline governance measures that the International Joint Commission can use to control and mitigate Lake Erie's phosphorus eutrophication. The recommendations include implementing Nutrient Management Program and DPSIR model for long-term sustainability. Additionally, it urges for ecological engineering investment.

Sara Lovecka (2021)

Recreate the BUZZ: Bee-friendly Farming Measures for Food Security and Biodiversity in the United Kingdom

Bee on lavender

Executive Summary

Bees, the world’s primary pollinators, have been experiencing population declines worldwide and in the UK. This causes a loss of the ecosystem services they provide – pollination and biodiversity intactness – which threatens the quality of food supply and brings us closer to irreversible environmental change. The drivers of bee decline are land-use change (urbanisation, habitat fragmentation), the intensification of agricultural practices (increased pesticide use, monoculture planting), the spread of pathogens and climate change. Existing governance has been insufficient in addressing these threats in their complexity by ignoring their interconnected impacts, which is why supporting international actions against climate change, deforestation and pesticide use is proposed. The lack of data on bees and their needs hinders effective policy creation. This could be improved via increased funding for expert research as well as using citizen science for large-scale monitoring. Both local and international governance measures prioritise education over direct action. Thus, it is proposed that the new Agri-environment schemes require farmers to use bee-friendly farming measures on 10% of their land and provide financial incentives in the case of higher land proportions. Funding for the development of a tool that identifies the most effective bee-friendly farming practices would help facilitate this process. Well-informed and intersectional governance action can protect bee populations, our ecosystems, and us.

Caitlin MacDonald (2021)

Coral Bleaching In The Great Barrier Reef: The Need For Local and Global Climate Change Governance.

Clown fish

Executive Summary

Coral bleaching is a pressing issue as sea temperatures rise. The global rise in temperature is due to the increasing amounts of greenhouse gases such as CO2 in which absorbs short wave radiation leading to an increase in temperature. This could potentially cause the failure of ecosystems as they can no longer support themselves or the animals surrounding them. The Great Barrier Reef provides vital ecosystem functions as well as ecosystem services. However, despite the Great Barrier Reefs role it has been subject to many mass coral bleaching incidents due to climate change. Previous climate governance has tried to limit these impacts including the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, and the Emissions Reduction Fund. Yet, all prove unsuccessful as mass coral bleaching still occurs with the latest bleaching event in 2020. To effectively manage and limit the collapse of coral ecosystems governance is needed with joint action between the UNFCCC and local governments as well as increasing public awareness and capacity building to ensure the true cause and impacts of coral bleaching are understood. Furthermore, this can provide the opportunity for community-based management of coral reefs to ensure coral bleaching and the impacts of climate change are combatted on a local and global scale.

Faye Palmer (2021)

Dead Zones: re-establishing marine biodiversity by implementing a credit trading app

Clown fish on grey anenome

Executive Summary

Dead zones are anoxic areas of water that cannot sustain biodiversity. They occur naturally, but there is increasing concern that anthropogenic activities are accelerating their growth. Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers are primarily responsible for dead zone expansion as they cause eutrophication. Due to increased nutrient loads, there is accelerated and excessive plant growth on the surface of the ocean which blocks out vital sunlight and oxygen. Subsequent anoxic waters make aquatic survival impossible, disrupting food webs and ecosystems. To re-establish essential biodiversity, the UNEP and UN General Assembly must encourage international governments to join a global nutrient trading scheme and include nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the SDG’s. These governments will then be responsible for ensuring large polluters take part in the trading scheme using the Nutrient Trader application that will be available globally. This app allows companies to buy and sell nutrient credits earnt from reducing their nutrient loads below government quotas, therefore providing a market-based incentive to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and also a way of monitoring the actions of large nutrient polluters.

Ruby Palmer (2021)

Overfishing in Senegal: How to Protect Marine Ecosystems

Fishing boat in Senegal

Image credit: jbdodane/Wikimedia Commons

Executive Summary

Biodiversity loss is part of Rockström’s 9 Planetary Boundaries: Biosphere Integrity. Globally, there has been large depletion in the world’s marine ecosystems due to overfishing. This policy brief outlines the ecological implications of overfishing in Senegal as 90% of Senegalese fisheries are fully fished or facing collapse. Historically, Senegalese waters have been known for having an abundance in fish, however, over the past few decades foreign and illegal fishers have exploited Senegalese waters, overfishing at a large scale. Fishing plays an integral part in Senegal’s development, environmentally, socially, and economically. Although the government has made efforts to protect Senegalese fisheries, corruption, insufficient institutions, and neo-colonialism allow overfishing by foreign fishers and marine biodiversity loss to continue. To overcome this, the Coastal Fisheries Initiative (CFI) should fund and support Target-based ecological compensation (TBEC) with Community Run Fisheries (CRF) to encourage management and preservation of the marine ecosystems in Senegalese waters.

Yasmin Pogson (2021)

Save the Bees: How Internationally Synced Conservation Initiatives Within the European Union Can Help Ensure a Sustainable Trajectory for the Future of the Biosphere

Honey bee with full pollen sacks on fleabane flower

Executive Summary

Bees act as the spine for not just the planetary biosphere – but for ensuring food security globally through their invaluable ecosystem services. However, in recent years there has been a continuous and rapid decline in colony numbers worldwide, largely due to various anthropogenic activities such as fertilizer use and biodiversity loss. Bees have been found to contribute towards 15 of the 17 SDGs, and a minimum of 30 targets, reinforcing how paramount conservation of this species is in achieving sustainable development. Current EU legislation addresses the urgent need for pollinator protection laws, however due to a lack of international synchronicity, funding and proper reinforcement of laws, bee numbers are still continuing to decline. Immediate action must be taken in order to stabilise bee colony numbers to ensure a sustainable trajectory for the future of our biosphere, starting with a complete ban on all neonicotinoid use within the EU. Not only will this reduce CCD within bee communities but allow for increased biodiversity and the chance for bees to repopulate. In addition to this, reallocation of CAP funding into ecological farming accompanied with education for farmers regarding sustainable farming alternatives play a crucial role in reforming the currently destructive agricultural industry in attempt to help stabilise bee colony numbers for the future.

Ellen Pritchard (2021)

United Kingdom Biodiversity Crisis: Evaluation of British Governance for Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation (Offsetting and Legislation)

A butterfly visits tickwood sunflowers at Oxford, Maryland's Conservation Park on September 18, 2020

Executive Summary

Biodiversity loss has severe implications for our society’s ability to develop sustainably. Declining biodiversity results in the reduced efficacy of ecosystem services, vital for human well-being. Within the UK, biodiversity is still depleting, despite the presence of governance schemes aimed at protecting it. A consistent increase in the proportion of wildlife threatened with extinction highlights the dire need for change. Site-by-site equivalent biodiversity offsetting has limited positive effects for biodiversity conservation and minimal enforcement of environmental legislation reduces the severity of the issues at hand. Through re-evaluation of these schemes, there is potential to conserve biodiversity. Strategic biodiversity offsetting takes into consideration the efficiency of potential offset sites, prior to its implementation, in relation to present and future development prospects. This has the potential to conserve and even increase biodiversity. In addition, legislation reform may prevent high levels of environmental crime occurring as harsher punishment would act as a deterrent. Development companies should also be held legally responsible for calculating the severity of their impacts upon biodiversity levels, in addition to taking actions to conserve biodiversity at equal levels to the impacts of their development schemes. This way, the severity of biodiversity loss has greater potential to be understood whilst also being conserved more effectively.

Ilaria Ravazzolo (2021)

The Impact of Swiss Household Food Waste on Climate Change and how to reduce it

A flat lay of strawberries and tomatoes

Executive Summary

Switzerland produces 300kg per capita of food waste every year. 715,000 tonnes of the yearly 950,000 tonnes of total food waste can be avoided, the majority of which comes from household consumption. This waste generates unnecessary CO2 emissions, land and water consumption and biodiversity loss. The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from food waste, CO2 in particular, contribute significantly to climate change and global warming. In addition, there are considerable opportunity costs associated with the removal of all this waste. As a response to this environmental harm, the Federal Council committed to reducing food waste in the Green Economy Dialogue (2013) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2015). However, so far there has not been a significant reduction in food waste and the pollution resulting from it. Although there have been several different proposals and initiatives to reduce Switzerland’s food waste significantly. The Green Liberal Party (GLP) politician Sonja Gehrig has proposed to introduce food waste prevention as a part of the curriculum in home economics classes in Swiss secondary schools. She has also started the initiative Aufgetischt statt Weggeworfen which collects unsold produce from supermarkets to distribute it to those in need. I propose to carry out a study, similar to an Italian study already undertaken, on consumer behaviour in Switzerland in order to identify patterns in food waste generation. This can then help to target the groups where the most waste occurs to reduce the overall waste more effectively.

Annabel Richardson (2021)

Ocean Acidification Induced Global Decline of Phytoplankton: International developmental aid needed

Body of water with sun setting

Executive Summary

Ocean acidification is resulting in the decline of marine life due to an increase in seawater acidity, leading to the dissolution of calcium in organisms’ shells. The disruption of the food web’s cycling of nutrients is also a consequence of the altered seawater chemistry, leading to decreased productivity of phytoplankton which provides negative repercussions on global ocean functioning as phytoplankton indirectly support all marine life and ecosystem processes. This is because they are a primary source in marine food webs and dissolve oxygen, which affects water quality. Phytoplankton also produce atmospheric oxygen; however, this oxygen production is negatively affected by the global warming induced rise of water temperatures. The larger the phytoplankton density decline, the less oxygen can be released into the atmosphere, and less carbon dioxide (CO2) is able to be absorbed into the oceans and sequestered when phytoplankton die and sink, (see figure 1). The UNEP promotes partnerships across nations to work together to improve global sustainability. Despite this, small-state governments attempt to not pay the necessary economic measures to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. If the vagueness of the Paris pledge and review allows for poorer countries to not adhere to the climate adjustment measures, the UNEP could attempt to persuade the OECD countries to finance emission reductions in developing countries; incentivised by explaining the global benefits in their next meeting held in 2 years’ time. Until then, research into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) would prove beneficial as an effective mitigation strategy against the current rate of climate change.

Thibaud Rouable (2021)

Helping India Increase its Fresh Water Availability: Focusing on Targeted Policies

Mountain in India

Executive Summary

India has already witnessed the severity of the impact of insufficient water in terms of damage to the economic
development, health, ecosystems, and food production. This analysis was carried out using data based on the
impact of human activity and climate change on the freshwater level. It was found that the current level and
share of clean drinkable and freshwater available per citizen have been diminishing through time. Moreover,
the water system is not functioning properly because of a lack of regulations, control, and finance. On top of
that groundwater levels are worsening mostly due to excessive use. However, even though the actions of the
Ministry of Jal Shakti have shown a visible positive impact on the Indian situation, most of current policies
implemented by different organizations and institutions have yet not shown any positive impacts because of an
out-of-breath bureaucracy and outnumber inefficient policies. Improving the water pipelines network and
regulating the overexploitation of groundwater are some of the immediate environmental reform initiatives
that are urging to be implemented. Overall, the local, national, and international authorities must considerably
reform and improve the means already in place to control and manage their freshwater availability in order to
provide a sufficient and equitable access to the population.

Scarlett Scott-Nadal (2021)

Land System Change: Deforestation in The Amazon Rainforest: A Need for Governmental Regulation and Cooperation

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest and river, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Brazil.

Image credit: Neil Palmer/CIAT

Executive Summary

Land-system change for agricultural growth has led to increasing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Forest environments have essential roles in the hydrological cycle, regulating the Earth’s climate through evapotranspiration and mitigating global warming. Forest environments are also crucial for ecosystems and biodiversity, all of which contribute to human livelihoods, providing food, sources of medicine, recreation and maintenance of the preferred conditions for human existence. As the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a crucial area for protection. The Amazon rainforest also absorbs the most greenhouse gases compared to any other tropical rainforest and therefore, its protection can be essential to avoiding the transgression of several of the planetary boundaries, including stratospheric ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, climate change, ocean acidification and land system change. Current governance is ineffective due to a failure to enforce policies that were previously effective in decreasing deforestation, which has consequently led to a recent increase. In order to prevent degrading the Amazon rainforest, the Bolsonaro administration should, 1) enforce the current strategies properly, 2) improve its administrative services, 3) inform consumers of the harmful effects of deforestation and 4) cooperate with other governments that possess parts of the Amazon rainforest.

Lydia Tang (2021)

Transboundary Haze from Indonesia: Reducing the effects of PM2.5 from Slash-and-Burn culture

Farmers burning fields into the dense jungle sloping the Mekong, Laos.

Image credit: Al King/Flickr

Executive Summary

Transboundary haze in South East Asia has been affecting the lives of many for decades. Slash-and-Burn culture is still practiced despite the establishment of national and international recommendations. High concentrations of PM2.5 penetrate the alveoli causing lung complications. Indonesia’s Environmental laws have failed to execute effectively due to weak law enforcement and corruption. RSPO focuses on the business sector, limiting demands of unsustainable palm oil, however, their focus on large-scale companies reduces local participation. Difficulty in establishing transboundary governance. Strong company-to-community relationships benefit implementations of community governance. Tax and fines need a strong establishment to prevent large companies from unsustainable cultivation, reducing the risk of forest fires. Licensing is needed to prevent further corruption. Reactive short-term policies like mask laws should be implemented to reduce health risks. Close monitoring AQI recommended. Through schools and media, education about S&B, haze, and health will tie all recommended governance. The research in this brief references 1997, 2013, 2015, and 2019 haze seasons.

Florence Valerie (2021)

Halting the Flow of Plastics from Jakarta into the Java Sea through Investment in Plastic Alternatives and Improved Regulation Enforcement

Water bottle in sea

Executive Summary

As the coastal capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is faced with the challenge of halting the flow of plastic debris into the Java sea. Every year, approximately 2,100 tons of macroplastic is emitted from Jakarta rivers and canals into the ocean. Most of this debris originate from Jakarta itself, reflecting its excessive mismanaged waste which end up in water bodies. Microplastics had been found in fish, snails, and crabs in Jakarta Bay, highlighting the threat of plastic debris toward wildlife and eventually humans as the top predator. Although studies found that styrofoam, wraps, and sacks make up for most of the debris, the Governor of Jakarta has only started to ban single- use plastic bags, with the exception of food containers where there is no better alternative. Moreover, this ban was introduced in the midst Jakarta’s Large Scale Social Restriction due to COVID-19, causing further harm to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in economically difficult times. Looking forward, the government has to discourage the use of styrofoam, plastic wraps, and plastic sacks, including those for food packaging. This can be done through supply-side policies in plastic alternatives such as Cassava and food waste, thus minimizing economic and social harm. Furthermore, an improvement in the enforcement of Local Regulation Number 3 of 2013 about Waste Management is needed to improve the compliance of households, area managers/developers, and producers. This may be done through campaigns as well as the recruitment and training of more civil servant investigators. Besides, improved citizen participation supports the government’s river naturalization program in its efforts to reduce flooding.

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Eszter Vlasits (2021)

The complexity of conservation - addressing biodiversity loss in Madagascar

Madagascar biodiversity

Executive Summary

Biosphere integrity, though it can seem like it based on the approach media sources and those trying to reduce the importance of the issue, is not merely about the extinction of species. Its degradation is a complex threat, capable of disrupting the entire operation of ecosystems and having a fatal effect on humans, who rely on said systems to sustain them. Biodiversity loss is still in the process of being accurately quantified, and it is also increasingly obvious that most conservation efforts employed today are not going to be sufficient in the long run. Wildlife conservation in various places has varying success depending on its regard for local and global factors. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot where the exploitation of nature needs to be stopped, but without the endangerment of local communities who rely on that very environment. The implementation of protected areas is a promising start; however, many conservational measures cannot fulfil their potential or even backfire because they disturb the flow of provisional ecosystem services. After reviewing the main issues with current governance concerning biodiversity conservation in Madagascar, a restructuring of those is proposed. In the policy recommendations, the emphasis is on committing locals to environmental protection by using their knowledge and providing them incentives via economic involvement, for example through employment opportunities in the fields of ecotourism and infrastructure development. Attention is called to the delicate balance of bottom-up programmes and centralization, as devising a comprehensive international conservation scheme requires linking local and global scales.

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