Adopting Green Practices in Response to Oil Spills in 3 Regions

Catastrophic oil spills from offshore drilling, tankers or other ships produce some of the most dramatic and tragic environmental disasters that can impact local ecosystems and livelihoods. Because public policies in many countries do not demand accountability from responsible stakeholders to provide swift and concerted cleanup after oil spills, damage beyond the coping capacity of impacted local ecosystems can result in long-term socioeconomic and environmental damage to coastal areas. According to resiliency theory,abrupt environmental change caused by a catastrophic phenomenon like an oil spill can serve as a trigger to transform a social-ecological system into an effective new regime—if governments exhibit high adaptability and support cross-scale institutional linkages. Using resilience to frame the discussion, this interdisciplinary workshop will showcase problems, lessons learned and, where applicable, innovative mechanisms developed in response to oil spills in three of the world´s most recently impacted regions--the Gulf of Mexico, including the U.S., Mexico and Cuba; Ogoniland, Nigeria, in the Gulf of Guinea; and Tauranga, New Zealand, in the Bay of Plenty. Using concrete examples, the workshop will show that, by working together with the private sector, local, regional and national authorities, positive steps were taken to promote green policies that reduced the impact of oil spills on coastal ecosystems, protected drinking water supplies, and promoted long-term food security. In addition, the Deepwater Horizon blow-out in the Gulf of Mexico will provide an oil industry case study to demonstrate how capacity in resilience assessment can be developed and tested for restoring oil damaged ecosystems globally.

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