Regional ocean governance: Integrating and coordinating mechanisms for polycentric systems
Regional ocean governance has been flagged as critical for successful achievement on SDG14 and other ocean related SDGs. The 20 ocean regions of the world are characterized by clusters of multilevel intergovernmental arrangements relating to EBM. Among the many needs for strengthening ocean governance in these regions is the development of effective regional integrating and coordinating mechanisms. These have been emerging somewhat organically. This study explores the clusters of regional agreements in the 20 regions to determine the extent to which integration mechanisms are in place or planned. It also looks at the extent to which the concept of governance polycentricity can be applied in these regions. Only four regions have established regional integration mechanisms thought to be needed for ecosystem-based management; while such mechanisms are planned in five others. Seven regions do have some level of intersectoral coordination such as within fisheries or environment or at a subregional level in a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME). Four regions show no sign of regional coordination. The study also the extent to which regional clusters of arrangements actually meet criteria for polycentricity based on governance theory. Regions have taken different approaches to regional integration mechanisms, but mostly based on working with a polycentric multilevel system of governance, rather than trying to tame it. There is both the need, and an untapped potential, for increased learning among regions regarding integration mechanisms and the polycentric structure and function of the regional clusters that they are seeking to integrate.