2020 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Awards Competition Winner
Honor Award - Environmental Sustainability
COAST: Carribean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability faciliTy
Entrant: Daniel B. Oerther, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, BCES
Engineer in Charge: Daniel B. Oerther, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, BCES
Location: Caribbean Sea
Media Contact: Daniel B. Oerther, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, BCES
Professor Daniel B. Oerther, PhD, PE, BCEE, BCES, is the engineer-in-charge of COAST: Carribean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability faciliTy.
Dan earned his doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of Illinois in 2002. He joined the Missouri University of Science and Technology as the John A. and Susan Mathes Endowed Chair of Civil Engineering in 2010 after serving for ten years on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati, including as head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
From 2014 through 2019, Dan served as the Senior Science Advisor at the United States Department of State in the Secretary's Office of Global Food Security. In this role as a Foreign Affairs Officer and in collaboration with the World Bank, he developed the concept, secured the funding, and implemented the full-scale success of COAST, the first-ever parametric insurance policy designed to simultaneously protect food and nutrition security while promoting sustainable development of marine capture fisheries throughout the Caribbean Sea.
To supplement his license as a PE in the US, Dan sought and received registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng is similar to BCEE) in the UK and Commonwealth (including Caribbean nations). In recognition of his leadership of COAST, Dan has received a number of awards and honors.
Thus, Professor Oerther's leadership of COAST represents a triple-bottom-line approach (i.e., planet, prosperity, and people), including: 1) integration across engineering/science and 2) finance, as well as the 3) promotion of professional accreditation of environmental engineers and environmental scientists, globally.
COAST: the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability faciliTy was designed by Professor Daniel B. Oerther, PhD, PE, BCEE, BCES – with funding from the United States Department of State and in consultation with the World Bank – to accomplish two goals of sustainable development:
- achieving food and nutrition security within impoverished coastal communities of artisanal fishers and their families; and
- promoting climate-smart fisheries best practices throughout the Caribbean.
Governments purchase the COAST parametric insurance policy* from CCRIF SPC, which was founded in 2007 as the world's first-ever company to provide parametric insurance to sovereign governments. After a severe weather event and a payout from CCRIF SPC, governments distribute cash benefits directly to individual fishers who have registered with their governments ahead of the annual hurricane season.
COAST promotes sustainable development by formalizing the fisheries sector, which includes nearly 300,000 artisanal fishers across 31 nations. Fishers, registered with the government in exchange for insurance coverage, are required to report the characteristics of their catch (i.e., gear use; species, size, and abundance of catch landed). As advocated by the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), catch reporting is the essential first-step in ecosystem-based fisheries management.
*parametric insurance policies are insurance contracts that make payments based on the intensity of an event (for example, hurricane wind speed or volume of rainfall) and the amount of loss calculated in a pre-agreed model caused by these events. Therefore, payouts can be made very quickly after a hazard event. This is different from traditional or indemnity insurance settlements that require an on-the- ground assessment of assets before entering into a contract and an on-the-ground assessment of losses after an event before a payment can be made. Thus, two benefits of parametric insurance are: 1) lower overhead costs because pre and post event assessments are not needed; and 2) faster payouts.
Thus, Professor Oerther designed COAST to directly support the triple-bottom-line (i.e., people, planet, and prosperity) aspirations of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy (CCCFP). Entered-into-force in 2013, the CCCFP is a regional, binding treaty that aims to achieve, "… sustainable utilization and development of fisheries and related ecosystems to maximize benefits for all Caribbean people," (from: CCCFP Fact Sheet).
Three pillars – of fishing, farming, and tourism – support the economies of the 31 countries and dependent territories of the Caribbean Sea (i.e., ranging in population from Cuba, with eleven-million citizens, to Montserrat, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom (UK), with only five-thousand residents).
Culturally, artisanal marine capture fishing is arguably the single most distinctive trait, which binds together the shared identity of small island states (i.e., Dominica) and the coastal Caribbean nations of Central America (i.e., Belize) and South America (i.e., Guyana and Suriname).
In 2013, to sustainably manage fisheries throughout the Caribbean according to the principle of triple-bottom line accountability, governments of CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) developed and signed the CCCFP to,
"… foster effective cooperation and collaboration among participant nations in Conservation, Management, Sustainable Utilization and Development of the fisheries resources and related ecosystems in the Caribbean region to maximize benefits for all Caribbean people. It [CCCFP] addresses the need to build capacity among fisheries and optimize the social and economic returns from the fisheries, which are a common thread throughout Caribbean societies," (from: CCCFP Fact Sheet).
Responsiveness to E3S Judging Criteria
Professor Oerther designed COAST using an INTEGRATED APPROACH to achieve environmental sustainability by considering the:
- "land" (i.e. near-shore sanitary runoff stimulating algal blooms that shade and choke marine coral reefs and fish hatcheries),
- "air" (i.e., climate change contributing to more frequent and more intense bad weather, including hurricanes); and
- "water" (i.e., including quality indicators such as marine acidification and warming of shallow coastal waters, which result in changes in patterns of fish migration and catch availability). For many members of the Academy, the term, "integrated approach", refers to "all environmental media" (i.e., designing an engineered technology to "clean up" air, water, and land).
As the first member of the Academy to achieve BOTH the BCEE and BCES certification, Professor Oerther's design of COAST pushes members of the Academy to fully integrate "science" (i.e., BCES) and "engineering" (i.e., BCEE) by considering the health of marine reefs and fish hatcheries (i.e., "land"), extreme weather events made even more extreme because of climate change (i.e., "air"), and stable populations of fin and shellfish (i.e., "water").
The design of COAST by Professor Oerther is ORIGINAL and INNOVATIVE because it is the first global exemplar of sovereign parametric insurance to incentivize individual behaviors adopting environmental sustainability in the fisheries food sector. And as evidenced by USER SATISFACTION and PROVEN PERFORMANCE, there is no other facility anywhere else in the world that provides the benefits of COAST. In fact, in October of 2015 at the World's Fair in Milan, Italy, United States Secretary of State, the Honorable John F. Kerry, highlighted the innovation of COAST and his satisfaction with the initiative:
"We're also exploring entirely new ways to address the climate-food security nexus. For example, the United States has created a new insurance product called Caribbean Oceans and Assets Sustainability Facility. It's a long – it's a mouthful of a name, but it [COAST] works. What it does is it reduces the risk that climate change poses to Caribbean fisheries. Under this initiative, Caribbean countries can buy insurance to help protect their fisheries sector – and by extension their food security – and that helps them guard against damage due to extreme weather. It's [COAST] the first initiative that actually gives an incentive to governments to adopt climate-smart practices for the fisheries sectors while also protecting fishers against weather and climate-related risk. Our hope is that COAST, as it's called, will become a successful model that could be replicated for any food sector of food production in any geographical area, anywhere in the world," (from: https://2009- 2017.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2015/10/248301.htm).
Besides praise from the Secretary of State, Professor Oerther has also received praise from the primary target audience served by COAST, namely partners at the World Bank, leaders of CCRIF SPC, the governments of Caribbean nations, and impoverished artisanal fishers who make their living from the Caribbean Sea.
COAST: the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability faciliTy, designed by Professor Daniel B. Oerther, PhD, PE, BCEE, BCES, CEng, CEnv, exceeds the criteria of the E3S competition by:
- integrating media of air (i.e., weather), water (i.e., near-shore marine water quality), and land (i.e., marine reef health);
- advancing the social and economic development of nearly 300,000 artisanal fishers and their impoverished coastal communities throughout the 31 countries and dependent territories of the Caribbean;
- solving the complex challenge of simultaneously promoting sustainable development of fisheries ecosystems AND achieving food and nutrition security; and
- impressing both government officials at the highest levels and local, individual fishers who all offered public words of praise to the quality, originality, and innovation of COAST.