Sargassum; a plentiful natural resource or damaging environmental hazard?
Image taken by Ulises Jauregui, Playa Nigua, Dominican Republic (May 2020)
Sargassum affects most of the tropical Atlantic, including: North, South and Central American countries with a Caribbean coast, most Caribbean islands and many of the countries on the West African coast. The affected countries are geopolitically diverse, although our research focusses on the poorest affected countries that often lack the financial, technical and physical resources needed to deal with an onslaught of sargassum.
In recent years, there have been increasing efforts to establish cross-boundary collaborative efforts and networks to facilitate dialogue and share best practice in understanding, preparing and responding to sargassum influx events. In 2015 and 2019, CERMES (University of the West Indies) hosted two symposia on sargassum, and in 2019 officials from thirteen Caribbean and Latin American states gathered and created a 26-point agreement outlining the need for cross-border information sharing on sargassum monitoring, science, education and entrepreneurship. The UNEP Sargassum Working Group was established to encourage exchange across the Atlantic, highlighting key challenges, responses and collaboration of sargassum across the Caribbean and West-Africa.
WP4 focuses on emerging governance challenges as identified via our participation in webinars and meetings, and in collaboration with project partners. This work aims to increase understanding of how different policy settings create risks and opportunities for transformational adaptation. There are a myriad of actors at multiple scales across the tropical Atlantic basin involved in the science, management, and governance of the sargassum crisis. We ask:
- How can effective solutions to these teleconnected risks be developed across continents to generate benefits for the most vulnerable countries?
- Who are the key actors and what are the key policy frameworks that are shaping the response?
- Are there conflicts of interest or institutional overlaps, and what policy pathways could be followed to deliver equitable resilience for the most vulnerable affected communities?
This work package aims to identify the existing and possible future national and regional governance of sargassum (both strandings and as a floating resource) and the political economy of different sargassum responses. This will involve:
- The analysis of national and regional governance of sargassum in the tropical Atlantic basin;
- Analysis of the potential range of ownership regimes for sargassum, and the potential for each to create transformational adaptation opportunities for the poorest; and
- Research into the political economy of sargassum management, for equitable resilience.
This work package therefore hopes to contribute to discussions and development of managing influxes, by identifying opportunities for transformational adaptation and equitable resilience in the governance of sargassum.
This work package is led by Prof Jack Corbett and Dr Janice Cumberbatch
Outputs from this work package :