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Summit Yields New Ocean Protections; 4 Scenarios for Philadelphia’s Recovery; More in U.S. Now Religiously Unaffiliated

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Summit Yields New Ocean Protections; 4 Scenarios for Philadelphia’s Recovery; More in U.S. Now Religiously Unaffiliated
King penguins congregate in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, home to the species’ largest colony.
Bruno Marie

Summit Yields New Ocean Protections

World leaders pledged to adopt new marine protections in an area ranging from the tropical South Pacific Ocean to the frigid Southern Ocean during the One Ocean Summit in Brest, France, which convened in February.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced measures that will expand marine protections by about 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) in the Southern Lands marine reserve around three archipelagos—Saint Paul and Amsterdam Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, and the Crozet Islands. These are unpopulated territories rich in biodiversity that are part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the southern Indian Ocean. The expansion creates the largest marine protected area (MPA) in French waters by far, representing about 15% of the country’s global exclusive economic zone, and more than doubles the percentage of French waters that are highly protected.

Also at the conference, French Polynesia President Édouard Fritch committed to creating a new MPA and establishing artisanal fishing zones around 118 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The MPA, which will protect 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers), has long been supported by local mayors and community members in the archipelago, which President Fritch acknowledged by calling the area Rāhui Nui, or “big rāhui”—a Tahitian reference to the traditional Polynesian practice of restricting access to an area or resource to conserve it.

The moves mark successes for the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project, which has long supported efforts to expand protections in French waters and Polynesia.

In addition, six governments pledged support for the Cape Town Agreement for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, a treaty that will make it easier for countries to deter illegal fishing, identify and investigate fishers who operate outside the law, and help ensure that crews have safe and decent working conditions. When the International Maritime Organisation adopted the treaty a decade ago, it named 2022 as the target year for it to be fully ratified, which will happen when 22 states with a combined fleet of at least 3,600 eligible vessels finalize their ratifications. The commitments made at the summit bring treaty ratification one step closer.

“While this is a major step forward, there’s still more work to be done for the job to be complete,” says Peter Horn, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ international fisheries project. “We hope that more countries will be inspired to follow these commitments by ratifying this critical treaty.” 

Carol Kaufmann

4 Scenarios for Philadelphia’s Recovery

Philadelphia’s economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 shutdown, with employment down about 5 percentage points more than the nation as a whole. The Pew Charitable Trusts, in collaboration with the William Penn Foundation, has launched “Philadelphia’s Fiscal Future,” a series of reports to explore the various possibilities ahead for the city and its economy. This research aims to provide city officials and civic stakeholders with an understanding of the current baseline of the city’s economy and opportunities for charting a path forward over the next five years.

Pew commissioned Econsult Solutions Inc., a Philadelphia-based firm, to help develop this series. The first report examined how Philadelphia’s economy performed in the decade leading up to March 2020 and the pandemic’s impact on the city’s economy. In the latest report, Econsult developed four potential scenarios for the city’s economic future through mid-2025. Not meant as predictions, the scenarios provide a range of possibilities, quantifying the number of jobs at risk for the city.

The research focused on jobs as a key metric, and two primary unknowns that will affect that number. One is the degree to which in-person activity resumes. The other is how well the city generates and retains new business investment.

Under the first scenario, Overall Growth, the economy sees a high level of in-person activity and business growth, resulting in 774,900 jobs in mid-2025, or up about 36,100 from the pre-pandemic number. In the second, Uneven Gains, the city regains pre-pandemic growth levels in only some parts of the economy, resulting in job totals around 754,500 (up 15,700 from pre-pandemic).

In the third scenario, Competitive Loss, Philadelphia fails to regain its pre-pandemic share of jobs and economic activity, which results in 727,600 jobs (down 11,200 from pre-pandemic). The fourth scenario, Stunted Recovery, has limited growth leading to substantial employment loss, with 704,800 jobs (down some 34,100).

“The scenarios illustrate what’s at stake—70,000 jobs—and the importance of policymaker decisions in setting the course for a post-pandemic recovery,” says Elinor Haider, who directs Pew’s Philadelphia research and policy initiative.

—Demetra Aposporos

More in U.S. Now Religiously Unaffiliated

The secularizing shifts evident in American society so far in the 21st century show no signs of slowing. The latest Pew Research Center survey of the religious composition of the United States finds that the religiously unaffiliated share of the public is 6 percentage points higher than it was five years ago and 10 points higher than a decade ago.

Christians continue to make up a majority of the U.S. populace, but their share of the adult population is 12 percentage points lower in 2021 than it was in 2011. In addition, the share of U.S. adults who say they pray on a daily basis has been trending downward, as has the share who say religion is “very important” in their lives.

Currently, about 3 in 10 U.S. adults (29%) are religious “nones”—people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular” when asked about their religious identity. Self-identified Christians of all varieties (including Protestants, Catholics, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Orthodox Christians) make up 63% of the adult population. Christians now outnumber religious “nones” by a ratio of a little more than 2 to 1. In 2007, when the Center began asking its current question about religious identity, Christians outnumbered “nones” by almost 5 to 1 (78% vs. 16%).

—Demetra Aposporos

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