Work Package 6‎ > ‎

Task 6.3

The politics of tipping points: resource management under climate change induced regime shifts

Task leader: Alf Håkon Hoel (UoT)

Industries dependent on ecosystem services face major challenges in adapting to new circumstances of climate driven, non-linear changes in ecosystems resulting in major regime shifts, for example major reduction in sea ices. In the High North, this clearly applies to fisheries, but also to tourism and petroleum development.

The critical question here is: are existing institutions capable of devising policies and strategies for coping with regime shifts? In democratic political systems, the governmental range of action is circumscribed by what those who are governed are willing to support.

The objective of this action is to examine how institutions and policies for the management of living marine resources, tourism and petroleum development would cope with situations of very rapid change in ecosystems driven by climate change. This is an entirely new situation that will severely test the ability of existing institutions to deliver policies that are sustainable over time.

The main case study will be the Barents Sea, for which comprehensive institutions and policies exist. Lessons will be drawn also from other cases that have a recent history of major shifts (Northwest Atlantic, Bering Sea). The management plan for the Barents Sea is a major institutional experiment on how the different concerns addressed by the three tasks in this Work Package can be brought together. Novel regulatory approaches such as marine protected areas (MPA’s) are implemented.