Sustainability Dispatch April 2023
March brought great news for our oceans. More than 190 countries gathered in Panama City to hold the 8th Our Oceans Conference, which garnered more than 341 commitments on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), climate change, maritime security, sustainable fisheries, and pollution. To implement the actions needed, the countries, companies and organizations involved committed almost 20 billion USD.
In addition, while many of us were convening in this beautiful Caribbean nation, a landmark treaty was signed in the United Nations by more than 190 countries, after five years of negotiations, through which for the first time, nations will be able to propose and create MPAs and marine sanctuaries in the high seas—which cover 60% of our oceans. This agreement comes at a particularly important moment when deep-sea mining is becoming more relevant in present-day conversations of the energy transition, as many argue it could provide critical minerals needed for the technologies of the future.
It is still uncertain whether this UN Treaty would conflict with the competencies of the International Seabed Authority, but many in the conservation world hope it will at least provide more protection to areas of the ocean that were previously lawless and out of any national jurisdiction. Although at least sixty nations must ratify the Treaty for it to come into force, we can definitely rejoice! Chile, for instance, is already working with international conservation organizations on a proposal for an MPA off the west coast of the continent.
Welcome back to the Sustainability Dispatch!
Tania Miranda, EC2 Director.
Our Recent Work
On March 2-3, the EC2 team participated in the 8th Our Oceans Conference held in Panama City, Panama, in a panel hosted by the Charles Darwin Foundation that promoted a Coastal Ocean Marine Biosecurity Integrated Network of the Americas (COMBINA). We highlighted the importance of looking holistically at the multiple sources of marine pollution from ships, from ballast waters, to grey waters, to scrubber discharges. Plus, Carlos Correa, one of our non-resident fellows, participated in a session on blue carbon organized by the Mangrove Breakthrough. This amazing summit was attended by more than 600 people from 190 different nations.
On March 22nd, we co-hosted a webinar with BBA Deals that looked at ESGs as an investment driver in North America that featured Evan Van Hook, Chief Sustainability Officer at Honeywell; Claudia de la Vega, Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Walmart Mexico and Central America, and Gabriel Bustamante, Senior Partner at Bustamante + Freyre law firm and BBA Deals & Disputes Member.
What transpired from our conversation was, most importantly, that the transition to a decarbonized economy is creating new opportunities for businesses, for instance by investing in R&D, and selling innovative technologies and products that help with the transition. And even though governments have for decades been behind in the ESG space, they are starting to catch up and regulations such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, and the recently released Sustainable taxonomy in #Mexico, will incentivize more investments in sustainable projects in the region.
Biodiversity and Nature-related Disclosures: from Standardized Frameworks to Managing Global Biodiversity Risks
A new global biodiversity framework reached late last year will set the stage for rising scrutiny on businesses impact on nature and ecosystems, putting pressure on regulators and firms alike. This means climate regulations and standardized frameworks will gain spotlight. Yet, just as with sustainability efforts and the transition to net-zero, challenges for businesses to assess and disclose nature-related risks are significant and will take time and capacity building. Voluntary initiatives like the Task for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) can pave the way.
Don’t miss our latest report to understand more on the different disclosure frameworks and how both the private and the public sectors are making progress in this space.
The “Invisible” Pollution of Maritime Transport
Op-ed by Tania Miranda
If the maritime industry were a nation, it would be between the sixth and eighth largest greenhouse gas polluter in the world. What can we do to reduce its ecological footprint? Don’t miss this op-ed in Spanish by EC2 Director Tania Miranda, highlighting a new and widely unregulated form of marine pollution from ships that stems from a technology meant to curb atmospheric pollution.
Fisheries and Tourism – The Value of Ecosystem Services
The GCMP is finalizing a comprehensive report of the value of the ecosystem services provided by marine and coastal ecosystems in Bahía Magdalena. Using fisheries data collected since 2012 and tourism data since 2019, the team has been able to estimate the economic contributions resulting from fisheries and tourism. This information is critical as local communities, experts, and government work in designing management plans that can help ensure long-term economic and environmental sustainability for the region. Stay tuned!
The Tool of the Month
For those interested in greenhouse gas emissions data, Climate TRACE is a global non-profit coalition dedicated to independently and directly tracking greenhouse gas emissions with unprecedented detail. Explore their website to analyze emissions by sector, asset, and country.
The Institute of the Americas’ Environment & Climate Change Program (EC2) strives to catalyze climate leadership amongst the private sector and local/regional governments in the Americas, to promote sustainable growth, tackle climate change and minimize environmental impacts in the region with the goal of protecting its rich marine and land-based natural capital.