University of Tasmania
Final Thesis - MAKOMERE.pdf (2 MB)

Governing ocean acidification : a solutions‑based approach

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posted on 2024-03-27, 22:50 authored by Reuben MakomereReuben Makomere

Ocean acidification is a major challenge for vulnerable marine socio-ecological systems. Scientific evidence suggests that ocean acidification will continue to intensify well into this century. Different approaches to addressing acidification will therefore be needed to complement ongoing global climate mitigation efforts. Harnessing domestic legal arrangements governing ocean acidification response strategies, in what constitutes a solutions-based approach, can play a crucial role in this regard. This thesis develops a conceptual framework for governing a solutions-based approach to addressing ocean acidification using insights from polycentric governance theory. The conceptual framework highlights three interlinked principles: legal arrangements must: (1) foster alignment between institutions and the problems they are meant to address; (2) reduce the risk of regulatory failure; and (3) prepare for and address change. The thesis applies these principles to three responses to ocean acidification identified in the literature: (a) preventing land-based marine pollution sources of ocean acidification; (b) reversing ocean acidification through ocean alkalinity enhancement; and (c) strengthening marine ecosystem health and resilience to cope with the impacts of ocean acidification. It evaluates how well the domestic governance arrangements in Puget Sound, Washington state, U.S and the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in Queensland, Australia fulfil these requirements and influence the implementation of a solutions-based approach. This thesis shows that existing legal arrangements incorporate several mechanisms that can help implement the principles of a solutions-based approach, especially in more established responses such as prevention of land-based marine pollution and strengthening marine ecosystem health. There are however significant governance gaps that need to be addressed to effectively implement the solutions-based approach. Ocean acidification is yet to be mainstreamed within existing domestic legal frameworks. Lack of laws and policies that anticipate novel, emerging solutions that may be needed in future further exacerbates existing legal inadequacies. Nevertheless, existing legal arrangements can be enhanced to effectively implement the principles for governing a solutions-based approach. This thesis highlights pathways for targeted reforms that can help harness available response strategies to address ocean acidification as efforts to mitigate global CO2 emissions continue.



  • PhD Thesis


xii, 270 pages


School of Law



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