PSI Research Group at the 2022 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium

Members of the Policy, Sustainability and Innovation (PSI) Research Group recently presented the 19th Annual Colloquium of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Academy of Environmental Law, held in Brisbane, Australia, from the 12th to the 15th of July 2022. The Colloquium brought together scholars from around the world in a hybrid in-person / online format, and saw over 130 presentations and numerous panel discussions across the four-day event. The theme of this year’s conference was “Re-imagining Environmental Law: Recovery, Resilience, Regeneration”.

Nicki Shumway, a Post-doctoral research fellow in the PSI research group, gave a presentation on “Building resilient and adaptive restoration policy in the Great Barrier Reef”. The presentation built on a number of research projects that Nicki has been involved in, and discussed how the framing of conservation policy (to prevent and protect marine ecosystems from harmful activities) has limited the ability of projects to do active interventions within marine parks, including for restoration and adaptation to climate change. She offered a number of lessons learned in how to move forward with restoration projects under current governance frameworks and discussed how interventions with a high level of uncertainty can progress in the Great Barrier Reef using frameworks from emerging technologies.

Rose Foster, also a researcher with the PSI research group, presented on a paper in-progress, co-authored by PSI Research Group members Nicole Shumway and Pedro Fidelman, titled “Governing marine cloud brightening: Consideration of scale and purpose”. The paper contributed to discussion about the ways in which it may be necessary to re-imagine environmental law to manage emerging technologies in the context of climate change. The specific focus of the paper was marine cloud brightening, a technology that could be used to reduce coral bleaching. Though marine cloud brightening could provide significant conservation benefits, there are currently no governance frameworks specifically designed to assess proposals, and the technology presents novel risks and uncertainties that may not be accounted for in existing frameworks. Accordingly, the paper considered the challenges and recommendations that may be relevant to its governance and how they could be applied to the context of marine cloud brightening for conservation.