Five IUCN Commissions collaborate on Gulf of Mexico oil spill

10 February 2011 | News story

This unique group of five IUCN Commissions is tracking the abundant array of ongoing projects in response to the oil spill disaster. A State of the Gulf Summit is planned for December 2011. 

By Kelly Logan, Research Fellow and intern for the IUCN Commission on Ecosystems Management

Five IUCN Commissions (Commission on Ecosystem Management, Commission on Environmental Law, Species Survival Commission, World Commission on Protected Areas, and Commission on Education and Communication) have begun to work together to create the Inter-Commission Gulf of Mexico Working Group. This unique group is working to enhance understanding of the oil spill impacts and restoration efforts by researching and tracking the abundant and diverse array of ongoing projects.

To be expected due to the diversity of species and habitats, much of the research and restoration efforts in the Gulf focus on specific, differing aspects of the ecosystem. These focused studies are needed; however, it is vital to ensure proper communication between all groups to allow us to recognize gaps and explore opportunities for collaboration. This is true whether a particular effort is focused on wetlands, coastal waters, deepwater areas, or simply on a specific species. Only with a common goal in mind and a clear vision of the big picture will we all be able to achieve the ideal of restoration.

  • The group is assisting the Harte Research Institute in planning a State of the Gulf Summit, to take place in Houston, Texas, on December 4 to 8, 2011.

The aim of the summit is to facilitate awareness, communication, and cooperation. The summit seeks to bring together all the movers and shakers in the Gulf Restoration Task Force established by President Obama, the ongoing National Resource Damage Assessment of the spill, the NGO community, and international representatives from Mexico and Cuba. The summit will provide an ideal setting to create and define a unified vision of a “healthy Gulf”, focusing on the region and ecosystem as a whole. It will also serve as grounds to layout collaborative plans for implementation and to develop a set of diverse metrics designed to track progress and ensure everyone sticks to these goals.

As an area of diverse ecosystems already experiencing major environmental degradation, there is much work to be done before the Gulf system recovers to a healthy, resilient level. Overall, the Inter-Commission group’s research and summit plans will help the community coordinate efforts and make certain we achieve the best possible outcome from all the hard work being done towards recovery from both the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the many years of degradation preceding it. 

For more information, contact:

Kelly Logan logan.kelly.e@gmail.com
IUCN Inter-Commission Gulf Restoration Working Group research fellow

Scott Hajost scotthajost@yahoo.com  
CEC, CEM, and CEL member & Inter-Commission Working Group Coordinator