Aaron Strong

Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Aaron Strong recently published a research article on assessments of climate resilience in marine conservation and sustainability in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The paper, “Gazing at the Crystal Ball: Predicting the Future of Marine Protected Areas Through Voluntary Commitments,” is a collaborative work with colleagues from Colorado University and is based on work at recent United Nations negotiations on managing the global ocean.

Strong and his co-authors said that in 2015, the U.N. set 17 sustainable development goals, including one focused on oceans with a primary goal “to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

“One proposed way to achieve this objective was through the creation of a voluntary commitment program,” they said.

Strong and his fellow researchers analyzed commitments to an aspect of the program that called for the conservation of 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

They found that despite a primary focus on expanding the area of the global ocean under protection, there has been a surge in interest in making areas of the ocean more resilient to climate change. Much of this interest is coming from non-governmental actors including nonprofits and the private sector.

“What does making the ocean more resilient mean? There are at least 12 active definitions of resilience that are in use, making it harder to assess the efficacy of these sustainability and conservation actions,” Strong said.

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