2011 Travel Reports

International Studies Association Annual Convention 2011
Montreal, Canada
March 16 – 19, 2011

First Presentation by Nancy W.Gleason
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Overcoming Natural Resource-Induced Civil Conflict: The Case of Suriname’s Forests

Abstract:
Governments are expected to foster economic development for their citizens. The constant push for political and economic success by governments has resulted in unsustainable use of natural resources in many states. The pursuit of short-term economic gains puts undue pressure on the ecosystem health of forests, rivers, coastal wetlands and the communities that depend on these services. Lack of land rights, anticipation of extractive industry’s potential, and exploitation already underway by governments and private industry create pressures on local communities that can often erupt into violent conflict. In Suriname, a lack of property rights within the forests combined with economic pressures resulted in large-scale civil conflict and guerilla warfare between 1986 and 1992. Political authority was challenged due to natural resource rights. However, a combination of efforts by Surinamers themselves and the international community has brought an end to political violence in the country, and helped to prepare it for a future of sustainable development. The case of Suriname provides demonstrative evidence that states can overcome natural resource induced civil conflict and go on to sustainably foster economic development.

Second Presentation by Nancy W.Gleason
Lecturer, Political Science Department

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
The Emerging Economies as Potential Leaders of the International Sustainable Development Agenda: Sustainable Development Diplomacy at Brazil’s 2012 Rio+20 Summit

Abstract:
The current international sustainable development agenda suffers from a leadership vacuum, and a crisis of uncertainty about its future direction. While literature suggests that the growth of the emerging economies will produce major environmental impacts and shape the future of sustainable development, it remains unclear 1) if the emerging economies’ ascendancy as economic powers will be matched by a shift in their sustainable development diplomacy; and, 2) what would a joint sustainable development agenda driven by the key emerging economies potentially look like. This article studies the rise of the key emerging economies from the sustainable development perspective, analyzes the evolution of their joint agendas through coalitions such as BRIC and BASIC, and assesses their potential influence. We argue that the emerging economies are already mobilizing politically towards a common sustainable development agenda, have several complementary interests and a joint goal to play a more important role in global governance. The Rio+20 Environmental Summit to be held in Brazil in 2012 offers potential for reviving the sustainable development agenda. However, there is not yet a coherent position that could provide an alternative to the status quo and enable the emerging economies to trigger major movements in sustainable development diplomacy.


Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Seattle, WA
April 12 – 16, 2011

Presentation by Aaron Strong
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
The Political-Ecological Geography of the Sea: The Promises and Pitfalls of Bounding Marine Spaces for Environment Management

Abstract:
Marine ecosystems are facing an anthropogenic crisis. Intensive overfishing has depleted fish stocks across the globe and the effects of climate change, ocean acidification, eutrophication, and coastal pollution have disrupted and simplified marine food-webs, often additive and synergistic ways. All of these impacts are laid upon a baseline of high natural ecological and physical oceanographic variability. Because of an increasing recognition that single-species natural resource management has failed, there has been a notable push toward a paradigm of ecosystem-based management. On land, geographers have long noted that the boundaries of geographic units of political administration are rarely congruent with the boundaries of physical geographic or biological units. However, as new systems for marine ecosystem-based management are being developed, new marine geographic units of political administration are being created across scales for this purpose. How and why are these marine spaces bounded geographically for the purposes of ecosystem management? How do scientific, historical, geographic and political factors interact to guide the processes of their designation? This paper approaches these questions through comparative analysis of the ecological criteria and associated political considerations used for the geographic designation of five different contemporary international systems for bounding marine spaces: Large Marine Ecosystems, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Statistical Areas, UNEP Regional Seas, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas and related Areas to be Avoided. From these comparisons, there is evidence that the choice and application of ecological criteria is often, though not universally, politicized, with implications for the effectiveness of ecosystem management.

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