New Report: ‘ Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)’

Description: Extreme weather and climate events, interacting with exposed and vulnerable human and natural systems, can lead to disasters. This Special Report explores the social as well as physical dimensions of weather- and climate-related disasters, considering opportunities for managing risks at local to international scales. SREX was approved and accepted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 18 November 2011 in Kampala, Uganda.

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New Article: ‘Preempting the next disaster: Catastrophe insurance and the financialization of disaster management’

Abstract: The 2007 launch of the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) introduced a new mechanism of state security against the uncertainties of climate change. Proponents argue that increasing the ability of member-states to finance disaster recovery through catastrophe insurance mitigates the effects of increasingly frequent and intense hurricanes and thus contributes to climate change adaptation. In contrast, I offer a critical analysis of the CCRIF that draws out how it facilitates what I call the ‘financialization of disaster management’. The introduction of financial logics and techniques enables the state and capital to visualize a population’s self-organizing adaptive capacity as both a threat to state-based forms of order and a value that can be leveraged on capital markets as catastrophe risk. Leveraging enhances a state’s ability to repair its critical infrastructure and preemptively negate undesirable adaptations. The CCRIF blends risk pooling with parametric insurance techniques to turn the uncertainty surrounding a population’s immanent adaptability into catastrophe risks that can be leveraged to enhance state security and capital accumulation in an emergent environment.

Full Citation: Grove, K. (2012). Preempting the next disaster: Catastrophe insurance and the financialization of disaster management. Security Dialogue, 43 (2): 139-155 (Available with subscription at:

New Report: ‘Living Planet 2012’

Polity News, 18 May 2012 

An ever-growing demand for resources by a growing population is putting tremendous pressures on our planet’s biodiversity and is threatening South Africa’s future security, health and well-being. That’s according to the 2012 edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report (LPR) – the leading biennial survey of the Earth’s health.

“We are living as if we have an extra planet at our disposal. We are using 50% more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce and unless we change course, that number will grow fast – by 2030 even two planets will not be enough,” said Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa (WWF-SA).

The LPR uses the global Living Planet Index (LPI) to measure changes in the health of the planet’s ecosystems by tracking 9,000 populations of more than 2,600 species. The global Index shows almost a 30% decrease since 1970, with the tropics the hardest hit – where there has been a 60% decline in less than 40 years. Just as biodiversity is on a downward trend, the Earth’s Ecological Footprint, one of the other key indicators used in the report, illustrates how our demand on natural resources has become unsustainable.

The difference between rich and poor countries is also underlined in the report. High income countries have an Ecological Footprint on average five times that of low-income countries.

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Table of Contents Alert: The Journal of Environment & Development 21 (2)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest Special Issue:  Policy Instruments for Sustainable Development at Rio +20 in The Journal of Environment & Development 21 (2)

The Promise and Problems of Pricing Carbon: Theory and Experience
Joseph E. Aldy and Robert N. Stavins
Abstract: Because of the global commons nature of climate change, international cooperation among nations will likely be necessary for meaningful action at the global level. At the same time, it will inevitably be up to the actions of sovereign nations to put in place policies that bring about meaningful reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. Due to the ubiquity and diversity of emissions of greenhouse gases in most economies, as well as the variation in abatement costs among individual sources, conventional environmental policy approaches, such as uniform technology and performance standards, are unlikely to be sufficient to the task. Therefore, attention has increasingly turned to market-based instruments in the form of carbon-pricing mechanisms. We examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the major options for carbon pricing—carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, emission reduction credits, clean energy standards, and fossil fuel subsidy reductions—and provide a review of the experiences, drawn primarily from developed countries, in implementing these instruments. Our summary of relevant theory and survey of experience from industrialized nations may be helpful to those who wish to examine the potential applicability of carbon pricing in the context of developing countries.

Environmental Policy and Political Realities: Fisheries Management and Job Creation in the Pacific Islands
Joshua Graff Zivin and Maria Damon
Abstract: Effective environmental policymaking requires an understanding of how environmental goals interact with other political goals. This article analyzes development strategies in the PICT’s, where policymakers aim to leverage tuna resources into sustainable economic development and job creation. The authors develop a model that analyzes costs and benefits of different development strategies, with a focus on job creation and local socioeconomic factors that drive optimal policy mixes across PICTs. The analysis demonstrates that investment in fisheries management can effectively encourage economic development and create employment opportunities, and compare this strategy to others such as selling access permits and investing in processing capacity. While many benefits of fisheries management are widely recognized, its ability to create high-quality employment opportunities is often overlooked. For many PICTs, this may represent the lowest cost strategy for jobs creation and, coupled with selling fishery access to foreign vessels, can form a strong basis for economic development plans.

The Role of Microinsurance as a Safety Net Against Environmental Risks in Bangladesh
Sonia Akter
Abstract: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) identifies Bangladesh as one of the countries that will be hardest hit by the anticipated effects of climate change. The poorest people are the most vulnerable, as they do not have sufficient means to cope with environmental risks. In the absence of effective safety nets, poor people become trapped in chronic poverty due to the recurrent damage caused by natural disasters. Recently, there has been growing optimism among policy makers and practitioners about the role of microinsurance as a safety net against weather risks for the poorest and most vulnerable people of Bangladesh. This article sheds light on this issue by synthesizing the findings of half a decade of research on the prospects of weather microinsurance in Bangladesh. Three key conclusions are drawn from the synthesis. First, the market for a standard, stand-alone weather microinsurance in Bangladesh is characterized by low demand, poor governance, and lack of prospects for commercial viability. Second, although the index-based flood insurance model has theoretical appeal (i.e., no moral hazard or adverse selection and low transaction cost), high economic cost might be associated with its highly complex practical implementation. Finally, the current (un)regulatory arrangement of microinsurance supply in Bangladesh, which does not guarantee accountability and protect clients’ rights, is likely to increase rather than decrease poor people’s vulnerability. The study makes two key recommendations: (1) exploring options for nontraditional insurance models (e.g., group-based and ex-post premium-based models), and (2) considering regulatory reforms to ensure good governance and to foster market efficiency through low-cost delivery and product innovation.

To download articles with subscription click here

Table of Contents Alert: Transnational Environmental Law 1 (1)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the inaugural issue of  Transnational Environmental Law 1 (1)

Confronting the Challenge of Energy Governance
Neil Gunningham
Abstract: There is a compelling argument for developing a low carbon emissions trajectory to mitigate climate change and for doing so urgently. What is needed is a transformation of the energy sector and an ‘energy revolution’. Such a revolution can only be achieved through effective energy governance nationally, regionally, and globally. But frequently such governance is constrained by the tensions between energy security, climate change mitigation and energy poverty. At national level, there is a chasm between what is needed and what governments do ‘on the ground’, while regionally and globally, collective action challenges have often presented insurmountable obstacles. The article examines what forms of energy law, regulation and governance are most needed to overcome these challenges and whether answers are most likely to be found in hierarchy, markets, or networks.

Innovativeness and Paralysis in International Climate Policy
Charlotte Streck
Abstract: This article describes the challenges of using the constrained tools of international law to negotiate a sustainable framework to address climate change. It sets out to show how the particularities of the problem have led to creative and innovative solutions expanding the borders of international law. To this end, the article discusses carbon market mechanisms, the compliance regime of the Kyoto Protocol, and the emerging framework to create incentives to reduce land-based emissions in developing countries. These examples illustrate that the recognition of the role of sub-national and private entities in mitigating climate change has had significant impact on the rules of the climate regime. But the article also asserts that the un process, while recognizing the role of private actors, is still inadequately equipped to involve non-state actors in a meaningful way. The climate regime therefore challenges the traditional thinking about interstate relationships. No longer solely a matter for international environmental law, contemporary environmental governance has become a global affair, which makes the lens of transnational law a useful tool to think about these issues in practice in a more intellectually fruitful and relevant way. This article thereby provides a snapshot of the type of issues and discussion that readers of this journal can look forward to in the years to come.

The Coming Water Crisis: A Common Concern of Humankind
Edith Brown Weiss
Abstract: This essay argues that fresh water, its availability and use, should now be recognized as ‘a common concern of humankind’, much as climate change was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and conservation of biodiversity was recognized as a ‘common concern of humankind’ in the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This would respond to the many linkages between what happens in one area with the demand for and the supply of fresh water in other areas. It would take into account the scientific characteristics of the hydrological cycle, address the growing commodification of water in the form of transboundary water markets and virtual water transfers through food production and trade, and respect the efforts to identify a human right to water.

Science, Values and People: The Three Factors that Will Define the Next Generation of International Conservation Agreements
Alexander Gillespie
Abstract: This paper is concerned with three emerging issues that define the way in which international conservation law moves forward in the coming decades. The three issues are those related to the use of science to frame regimes; the use of philosophy to examine the values of what is trying to be achieved; and the use of politics to ensure that local communities are linked to conservation efforts. Consideration of each of these three areas is relatively recent, none of them having being at the forefront of conservation considerations of international importance in the past. In the future, this is likely to change.

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Table of Contents Alert: Environment & Urbanization 24 (1)

See below for some of the articles that was published in the latest special issue: Mapping, enumerating and surveying informal settlements and cities in Environment & Urbanization 24 (1).

Knowledge is power – informal communities assert their right to the city through SDI and community-led enumerations
Sheela Patel, Carrie Baptist, Celine D’Cruz
Abstract: This paper provides an introduction to the practice of community-led enumerations as conducted by Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI). It sets out the historical context for enumerations, which came out of a need in India in 1975 to find a more long-term solution to evictions, and charts its subsequent evolution and spread throughout other countries. Enumerations can help to build a community, define a collective identity, facilitate development priority setting and provide a basis for engagement between communities and government on planning and development. This process allows communities of the urban poor to assert their rights to the city, to secure tenure, livelihoods and adequate infrastructure. The paper discusses some of the specific methodological issues, including the challenges of legitimizing community data, and the use of technology by slum(1) or shack dweller federations when appropriate.

How community-based enumerations started and developed in India
Jockin Arputham
Abstract: This paper explains how community-driven enumerations were first undertaken in Janata Colony in Mumbai, India in the early 1970s as a way of fighting the threat of eviction. Jockin Arputham was a resident of Janata and was drawn into community organizing to fight this eviction. The enumerations provided evidence of the importance of Janata’s economy and of the many legal facilities there, including electricity and telephone poles and licensed shops. This supported the residents’ case in court that Janata was a legal settlement. Undertaking the enumerations helped mobilize the population and provided them with information about their settlement that helped them consider their priorities. The paper also describes how enumerations of pavement dwellers helped them get a legal address, and through this ration cards, and a dialogue with municipal authorities. The author suggests that surveys of informal settlements are needed before any physical development is planned; also that they should be undertaken by the residents and their community organizations, to learn, to mobilize and to plan their own development so that they are not dependent on outsiders doing so.

The five-city enumeration: the role of participatory enumerations in developing community capacity and partnerships with government in Uganda
Jack Makau, Skye Dobson, Edit Samia
Abstract: This paper describes the enumerations of informal settlements undertaken in 2010 by the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda in the cities of Arua, Jinja, Kabale, Mbale and Mbarara, covering about 200,000 people. It describes how this federation was founded and subsequently developed through an earlier enumeration and initial work in informal settlements in Kampala. It also discusses the relationship between the federation and other actors, including the national government and Cities Alliance, and their role in supporting the formation of the federation. It explains how federation members developed the capacity to undertake the enumerations and later improved upon those skills, for example developing a GIS, to support the planning and implementation of upgrading by federation, local and national government agencies. The paper ends with a discussion of the way enumerations can encourage the rapid maturation of urban poor groups and their relationship with their cities and other development actors and the larger political context.

Participatory enumerations, in situ upgrading and mega events: the 2009 survey in Joe Slovo, Cape Town
Carrie Baptist and Joel Bolnick
Abstract: This paper describes the survey and enumeration held in Joe Slovo, an informal settlement of about 8,000 inhabitants located along one of the major highways in Cape Town. The residents of Joe Slovo had faced years of uncertainty as the national government was planning to redevelop their settlement as part of its preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They had also suffered a series of devastating fires and floods. The inhabitants were suspicious of any survey, fearing that this was part of the plan to evict them. This paper describes how these fears were overcome and how an enumeration was planned and implemented – using enumeration teams that included residents and that were tasked with talking to a member of each household in the settlement as well as numbering each shack. The enumeration served to highlight the likely negative impacts of the proposed resettlement, as many residents faced difficulties affording transportation and relied on being able to work nearby. The enumeration also opened up the possibility of in situ redevelopment as the population of Joe Slovo was found to be much smaller than expected. The enumeration process and data were then used to facilitate cluster upgrading and improved sanitation within the settlement.

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