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Policymaking often lacks environmental accountability

We live in a world today that is experiencing an international environmental crisis, ranging from rising temperatures, melting ice caps and animal extinction, to name a few. It is paramount that policymakers take an interest in creating legislation that effectively responds to these threats. Sadly, as I sift through various environmental reports released by supposed policymakers, there remains a noticeable issue: accountability.

What exactly do the terms “conserve”, “maintain”, “protect” and “sustain” really mean? Environmental policies are replete with terminology that could be considered essentially meaningless. Reading a 100-page report that uses terms that have little scientific relevance and purpose does not inspire confidence. Without appropriate terminology, research, and data, policies carry little potential to effect real change.

If you doubt me, I will offer you a perfect example. The 20 Aichi Targets are a series of global goals put forward by the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, a host of international organizations working towards promoting positive environmental change. The targets frequently employ language such as “safe ecological limits”, and “degradation”, but fail to reveal a quantifiable definition of the terms. What exactly constitutes degradation and at what level does that occur? What are safe ecological limits as determined by research and data, and how will these limits then be implemented to effect change? The lack of adequate terminology is a common occurrence in many policymaking reports about global change and environmental conservation and is astoundingly inappropriate considering the level of import of these policies.

The solution lies in creating stronger intercommunication between scientists and policymakers. The terminology used to understand many environmental issues needs to be simplified for people making policies, but still needs to be meaningful. In turn, policymakers need to create more accessible platforms for scientists to take part in the creation of reports containing important empirical data. By providing more concise definitions and understanding on how scientists determine how to save the planet, it can be properly translated into policies and will then be effectively accountable.

The bottom line is every person on earth has a responsibility in trying to save the planet. It is neither the scientist nor the policymaker that has the responsibility to create effective legislation to help climate change initiatives or avoid environmental degradation. Both parties play an essential role and it is about time that everyone starts working together and opening the lines of communication.

If we don’t, we are looking at our own extinction and I would personally like to leave my children with a world to live in rather than rubble and ash. Don’t you agree?