The Politics of Global Disaster Response (World Politics Review Features)
But two of the stickiest problems of the 21 st century—climate change and cybersecurity—are challenging because it is so difficult to nail down jurisdiction. When we are able to establish jurisdiction we are able to establish rules, laws, and accountability for adherence to the law—the three bedrock principles of modern democratic governance. In the absence of jurisdiction, everyone is accountable and therefore no one is accountable. When a cybercrime or cyberattack occurs, we have trouble with jurisdiction.
If the perpetrator of a cyberattack on an electrical grid is a Russian living in Tirana, Albania, who routes attacks through France and Canada, who can prosecute the individual? Assuming, that is, that we can even find them. Similarly, if coal plants in China and cattle ranching in Australia increase their outputs of greenhouse gases in one year and there are droughts in Africa and floods in Europe the next, who is responsible?
But attribution without enforcement mechanisms is only half the battle—if that. Measurement is a first step toward accountability, and measurement needs constant improvement. But measurement in the absence of accountability is meaningless, especially in situations where many people are skeptical of cause and effect. Over the years, the steady flow of information about the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment has had many positive effects on regulators, environmentalists, and industrialists.
The effects of dangerous chemicals on a population are generally fairly clear and obvious: dirty water, dirty air, difficulty breathing, unusual rates of cancer, etc. The cause and effect is often undeniable as the many lawyers who have represented communities and won their cases against large polluters can attest.
Hence, the linkage between jurisdiction and accountability is weak.
The Politics of Sustainability and Development | Annual Review of Environment and Resources
Our increasingly hot summers drive the demand for air conditioning. However, air conditioning adds to the heat outside. This is just one simplified version of the collective action problem. People may understand that they should act in a certain way for the greater good, but as individuals, they are loathe to turn off their air conditioning or stop flying places for vacations—knowing that others will not be joining them.
This is why government is the most frequent solution to collective action problems. Combating climate change requires collective action on many fronts, and it requires collective action both nationally and internationally. But this is extremely difficult in democracies like the U. In fact, it is the lack of trust in government that may be one of the foundational barriers to effective environmental action.
Writing in the journal Global Environmental Change , E. Keith Smith and Adam Mayer looked at 35 different countries. Their findings make intuitive sense especially in the American context.
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If you are skeptical about government in general, you are skeptical about your government telling you that you need to do something about climate change; you are even more skeptical about an international body like the United Nations telling you that climate change is a very serious problem. The final piece to the puzzle of why the political salience of climate change seems so out of step with the physical proof and urgency of the issue may have to do with the realm of imagination.
As every journalist knows, it is important to be able to tell a story, and as every teacher knows, we learn best through stories. And novelists and screenwriters are the most effective and powerful storytellers we have in society. When the subject of climate change occurs in these publications, it is almost always in relation to nonfiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon. Indeed, it could even be said that fiction that deals with climate change is almost by definition not of the kind that is taken seriously by serious literary journals: the mere mention of the subject is often enough to relegate a noel or short story to the genre of science fiction.
The absence of climate change from novels means that it is also absent from movies and television—the great powerful purveyors of stories in our time. We have trouble imagining the potential devastation of climate change. We have trouble trusting governments to lead us into much needed collective action. We have trouble defining the links between jurisdiction and accountability. And we have trouble understanding the causality in the first place. How can we fix this? And can we fix this in time to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change?
Some people, recognizing the political problem, hope for a technological fix such as carbon capture or some other geoengineering fix. The problem with technological fixes is that they are remote and may very well not be effective in time to stave off massive amounts of social and economic disruption.
On the other hand, earlys America faced what seemed to be an endlessly heartbreaking polio epidemic; in less than a decade, however, a vaccine was developed and the epidemic ended. Given the technological miracles seen in our lifetime, we should not dismiss a technological solution, and we should invest heavily in one with both public and private dollars. A second imperative is to increase basic scientific literacy so that the burden of pedagogy does not fall on folks like Al Gore alone.
Some of this is already happening with the attention given to STEM training in education. But it is clear that climate change is only one of many complex scientific issues that average citizens will be called upon to understand and act on in the future.
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Which brings us to the storytellers. They will find a receptive audience in the younger generation. As evidenced by their activism on this issue—this past week, millions marched in countries around the world to protest inaction around climate change—young people are especially concerned with the environment. But measurement and accountability without an understanding of the connections between a warmer planet and dangerous climate changes will not result in major action either.
A third imperative is to strengthen the link between jurisdiction and accountability.
Nationally and internationally, we need to be able to reward and punish private and public actors for their environmental actions. Until there are penalties for things like greenhouse gas emissions, they will not be reduced in sufficient amounts. Because this issue poses the ultimate collective action problem, it requires governmental action, such as treaties, taxes, and regulations, for starters.
But very few citizens in our country are going to support governmental action without first trusting government to get it right. We need to restore trust in government.
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It has been on a steady downward slide since the George W. Bush administration. Unless we restore trust in government, we are not likely to achieve significant collective action. Of course, all these things must proceed hand in hand. Awareness without the ability to hold corporations, countries, and individuals accountable will not result in major action on environmental issues. Above all, we need to restore—through government and other means—our trust in collective action.
Goulder , Charles D. Kolstad , and Xianling Long.
A United States national, Mr. From she worked for the World Bank Treasury leading policy dialogue, capacity building, and transaction support for Ministries of Finance interested in hedging currency, interest rate, commodity, and catastrophe risks. She has over 20 years of experience in climate and risk management, specializing in sovereign risk management, economic shocks and vulnerability, disaster risk financing, and commodity risk management. In this capacity, she provided support to a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research projects, including two impact evaluations in Uganda and Mozambique.
Before joining IFPRI, she worked as a consultant at the World Bank, where she primarily focused on research support and program management in governance and education projects in Latin America.
She supports the monitoring and management of GFDRR programs, with a focus on post-disaster needs assessments and visibility events. She has extensive operations experience, including with the agriculture department and with monitoring and evaluation. His specific interests include infrastructure asset management and climate finance. He led the South and Southeast Asia desk of a political and macroeconomic research firm before joining the World Bank in In this role, she leads communications strategies, activities, and campaigns in support of GFDRR's overall work program.
Prior to this role, Yoko worked as a communications officer with the World Bank's media team. She started at the World Bank Group in , handling media relations for flagship reports and priority events. Her background is in journalism, reporting and editing for Reuters in Japan and New Zealand, and then managing the team as Deputy Bureau Chief in the Philippines. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, exploring different restaurants, and occasionally playing the piano.
In that role, he supports teams on the design, implementation, and evaluation of projects related to climate and hydromet services. Previously, he was a Senior Scientific Officer of the Japan Meteorological Agency, where he gained over 13 years of professional experience in multi-hazard early warning systems particularly in the field of severe weather and tropical cyclone forecasting.
He brings 30 years of Bank experience in all regions on DRM, urban development, climate change, multi-donor funding, environmental management, NRM, and clean energy as well as field assignments in Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, and Haiti. Before joining the Bank, Mare held several high-level positions with the Government of Senegal.
Sonia Elizabeth Luthra is an Operations Analyst supporting the Operations and Country Programs team, including its work on monitoring and reporting. Sonia joined GFDRR as a consultant in , focusing on work planning, monitoring and reporting, and knowledge management. Prior to joining the World Bank, Sonia was the Assistant Director of Outreach for the National Bureau of Asian Research, where she helped lead engagement with key stakeholders and develop programming focused on U.
She has firsthand experience responding to major disasters, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami in her native Aceh, Indonesia; the Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan; and the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. He has also covered Latin American and Caribbean finance and insurance for a Chilean market intelligence firm.
She leads the work on resilience to climate change, working to ensure all investments in resilience are designed taking into account future climate change and variability. Cristina also manages the gender program, which promotes a more gender-responsive approach of disaster risk management practices. She has more than 15 years of experience with the World Bank and has been previously based in the Bangkok, Paris and London offices.
Otano is fluent in English, Spanish, and French. She leads the strategic direction of the Understanding Risk Community, manages the GFDRR Challenge Fund , and provides technical assistance on risk assessment and open data activities, as well as operational support to the Africa region.