Despite White House efforts to deny well-established climate change reports and U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, most might question the wisdom of laying down a science — led peace-building plan in the contested South China Sea disputes.
Yet science may prove to be the linchpin for bringing about cooperation rather than competition not only among the claimant nations in the region but also between Washington and Beijing. While President Trump’s recent offer to Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang to mediate the complex and challenging disputes over access to fish stocks, conservation of biodiversity and sovereignty claims caught many observers by surprise, it should not have.
The stakes are getting higher in the turbulent South China Sea, not only because of Beijing’s militarization of reclaimed islands but also the prospects of a fisheries collapse. This should weigh heavily on all claimant nations and especially the United States. Challenges around food security and renewable fish resources are fast becoming a hardscrabble reality for more than fishermen. In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity warned that it could be a scary future, indeed, with as many as 30-50 percent of all species possibly headed toward extinction by mid-century.
It’s not too late for the U.S. to take the scientific high ground and renew the legacy of science diplomacy. After all, science initiatives are more widely accepted as efforts to solve global issues requiring contributions from all parties even if they have been dealt a bad hand elsewhere. On Nov. 3, the White House signed off on a report attributing climate change and global warming to humanity. The report is in direct contradiction to the president’s action pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord on climate change earlier this year.
Enter science diplomacy, defined as the role of science being used to inform foreign policy decisions, promoting international scientific collaborations, and establishing scientific cooperation to ease tensions between nations.
During the Cold War, scientific cooperation was used to build bridges of cooperation and trust, and it’s now time that the South China Sea becomes a sea that binds rather than divides.
There are strong ties among scientists across Southeast Asia and China, due in part to a series of international scientific projects, conferences and training workshops associated with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s South China Sea Fisheries Development and Coordination program.
Marine scientists in the Philippines and Vietnam are reviving conversations about the Joint Oceanographic Marine Scientific Research Expeditions (JOMSRE) last conducted in 2005 and organized between the Philippine Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center and the Vietnamese Institute of Oceanography.
These measures are essential in the face of rampant overfishing and coral reef degradation occurring across the South China Sea, in part because of the conflicting territorial claims have made ecological analyses and management actions difficult.
With the imminent threat associated with North Korea’s nuclear tests, Mr. Trump’s Asia advisers must come up with new narratives on how to convince China to rein in this clear and present danger. However, President Xi Jinping’s recently expanded role makes it less likely that the U.S. will secure any further commitments from Beijing to address North Korea.
Michael Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., believes the U.S. could dramatically improve international relations through marine science partnerships, and he understands the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) contains specific articles that apply to marine science and technology.
“A renewal of JOMSRE would be quite positive, although the changing political dynamics related to the Spratlys and other islands and reefs in the region over the last several years will likely create a bit more challenging environment for an international research survey,” Mr. Crosby said in an email.
In the early 1990s, University of Miami marine biologist John McManus called for a marine peace park in the hotly contested Spratlys.
“Vietnam, a claimant nation, already has marine reserves, so this involves extending this practice to the Spratly area. It is usually difficult to institute conservative harvest and protection practices when there is the threat of competition from outsiders. Vietnam stands to lose a great deal if the current situation continues and results in a general decline in fisheries across the South China Sea,” claims Mr. McManus.
Although the U.S. is not a signatory to UNCLOS, Washington can recommend that sovereignty claims be set aside in treaties implementing freezes on claims and claim-supportive activities, as has been done in the Antarctic. These and other natural resource management tools could be used far more effectively to secure fisheries and biodiversity, and also promote sustainable tourism.
While President Trump has made it abundantly clear that he fully intends to protect and promote the U.S. fossil-fuel industry, he may find this new collaborative brand of science diplomacy works well in Asia.
Republished from Washington Times– under author’s permission
The Art of Leadership and Diplomacy
Leadership is about effective communication, leading from the front, and bringing out the best in individuals according to their competencies. One more crucial characteristic that a leader must possess is the art of diplomacy.
International Governance: balancing inclusion and efficiency
The UN Security Council’s resolutions have not succeeded to stop North Korea’s nuclear program. All over the world, refugees have increased, reaching 65 million, of which half are children. The Doha round has stalled, resulting in the proliferation of bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements, less efficient than a multilateral agreement.
Biodiplomacy – Nationalism and globalism as two sides of the same coin
The rapid progress of technology has brought about an era of massive change. Distances have shortened, while IT has made communication easier, quicker and more reliable, providing a different perspective of time and space and driving social and cultural globalization by making the flow of ideas and information ever more accessible.
Focus on GDP Fuelling Inequality and Short-Termism
Decades of prioritizing economic growth over social equity has led to historically high levels of wealth and income inequality and...
The geopolitical and financial significance of Bitcoin
Bitcoin and the other “cryptocurrencies”, namely Ethereum and Litcoin- although there are 33 additional currencies arriving on the Internet –...
Iran at the top of the new regional order
Syria’s field developments have practically changed regional equilibrium, as analysts today report the new regional order in Western Asia. The...
Islam Between Fatwa and Suicide Attack
Jihad of the Moderate Islam against Salafi-Jihadist groups Pakistan seems to take active measures against the ideology of radical Islamism...
Whither Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘moderate’ Islam?
Recent Algerian media reports detailing Saudi propagation of a quietist, apolitical yet supremacist and anti-pluralistic form of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism...
Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All
The global economy faces a reskilling crisis with 1.4 million jobs in the US alone vulnerable to disruption from technology...
Connecting Armenia’s Regions with Technology to Ensure Greater Opportunities for Young People
Just over two months ago, an economist, an IT specialist, a historian and a linguist teamed up at the Vanadzor...
Middle East2 days ago
Gulf crisis turns Qatar into the ‘region’s Israel’
South Asia2 days ago
India-US bonhomie: Time for a reality check
Economy4 days ago
55 New Financial Inclusion Metrics For World’s 2 Billion Unbanked
Economy5 days ago
Economics Students Unite in Bangladesh to Explore Paths Toward One South Asia
Central Asia4 days ago
Religious buildings in Kazakhstan to be labeled 16+
Intelligence23 hours ago
Islam Between Fatwa and Suicide Attack
East Asia2 days ago
Post 19th Congress of CPC: Where does Xi Jinping leads China to?
Middle East23 hours ago
Iran at the top of the new regional order