The ocean is highly impacted by human activities, and ambitious levels of science are urgently needed to support decision making in order to achieve sustainability. Due to the high cost and risk associated with ocean exploration and monitoring in time and space, vast areas of the oceanic social ecological system remain under-sampled or unknown. Governments have recognized that no single nation can on its own fill these scientific knowledge gaps, and this has led to a number of agreements to support international scientific collaboration and the exchange of information and capacity. This paper reviews current discussions on ocean science diplomacy, i.e., the intersection of science with international ocean affairs. Ocean science is intrinsically connected with diplomacy in supporting negotiations toward a more sustainable future. Diplomacy supports essential aspects of scientific work such as capacity building, technology and information/knowledge exchange, and access and sharing of research platforms. Ocean science diplomacy underlies the work of many intergovernmental organizations that provide scientific guidance, such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). To illustrate how critical science diplomacy is to global ocean affairs, this paper examines examples of the influence of ocean science diplomacy in UNCLOS. Furthermore, this paper discusses the utility of ocean science diplomacy in support of the UN 2030 agenda, and the UN Decade of Ocean Science.
Governance and Legal Frameworks
As the growth of the whale-watching activity increases rapidly around the world, the challenge of responsible management and sustainability also rises. Without suitable management, operators may try to maximize their own profits by breaking the rules, which may negatively affect cetaceans. In this paper, the applicability of conditions for sustainability governance in humpback whale-watching was evaluated. To achieve this purpose, semi-structured interviews were conducted in Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park, Colombia. Results of this study showed that humpback whale-watching is characterized by unevenness in connections with markets, income inequality and the distribution of operators across several villages and cities. The combination of which restricts cooperation between operators. Nevertheless, there are informal agreements among the operators, and some operators are motivated to form associations. Besides, environmental entities have been responsible of regulation in lack of community-based management. However, this still does not achieve effective enforcement of the rules. Stakeholders (communities and government authorities) must mediate trust and reciprocity among operators to improve the situation. It is important to involve all operators to fill gaps in the limited government monitoring capacity and absence of sanctions. This is relevant to continue monitoring the evolution of the whale-watching in this and other Marine Protected Areas, so that the sustainability of the activity is not affected in the future.
Protecting marine biodiversity and ensuring sustainable use through a seascape approach is becoming increasingly widespread in response to the ecological, social and institutional challenges of scaling ocean management. A seascape approach means clustering spatial management measures (marine protected areas) based around the principles of ecological connectivity, and developing or enhancing collaborative governance networks of relevant stakeholders (managers, community groups, non-governmental organizations) based around the principles of social connectivity. As with other large-scale approaches to marine management, there is minimal evidence of long-term impact in seascapes. This study uses a theory-based, participatory impact evaluation to assess perceived changes attributed to the Atlántida seascape in Honduras (initiated in 2015), encompassing three well-established marine protected areas and the non-legally managed waters between them. Using an adapted most significant change method, 15 interviews with a representative subset of seascape stakeholders yielded 165 stories of change, the majority (88%) of which were positive. Enhanced social capital, associated with cross-sectoral collaboration, inter-site conflict resolution and shared learning, was the most consistently expressed thematic change (32% of stories). Although most stories were expressed as activity- or output-related changes, a small proportion (18%) were causally linked to broader outcomes or impact around increased fish and flagship species abundance as well as interconnected well-being benefits for people. Although minimal (and occasionally attributed to prior initiatives that were enhanced by the seascape approach), this impact evidence tentatively links seascapes to recent related research around the effectiveness of appropriately scaled, ecosystem-based and collaboratively governed marine management that balances strict protection with sustainable use.
This paper analyses the governance of MPAs through 28 case studies in 17 countries. Limitations of the polycentric governance concept are discussed, particularly its faith in linkages as a means of resolving conflicts and its assumption that the state should only take a passive role. The concept of coevolutionary governance is described and justified, noting that this essentially builds on polycentrism’s systematic case study analysis approach, but evolves it to move beyond its limitations. Coevolutionary governance takes a synecology perspective to analyse how incentives coevolve through their functional integration, as well as how social and ecological systems can coevolve through the feedback mechanisms of human impacts and ecological services. Drawing on the wider concept of multi-level governance, coevolutionary governance is considered to provide for synergies between governance approaches, proposing that coordination can be achieved and conflicts addressed through reconfigured roles of the state providing steer through governance in ‘the shadow of hierarchy’. The MPAG empirical framework is described and the findings of its application outlined. Drawing on these findings, some key trends within and amongst five categories of incentives are explored. These illustrate that incentives synergistically interact in a way that is analogous to synecology, providing for them to be functionally integrated as a means of combining governance approaches. As such, it is argued that these findings support the validity of the coevolutionary governance concept, as well as supporting the argument that “diversity is the key to resilience, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems”.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is one of the four main elements of the package being negotiated in the Intergovernmental Conference to develop an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ agreement). “Internationalization” of EIA under the agreement, which partly relates to the international community's role in oversight and outcome of the process, remains a contentious issue that requires continued consideration. Less controversial aspects of internationalization in the EIA process are internationalization of consultation and dissemination of information. They are shown to be critical to achieving quality outcomes and encouraging transparency and accountability. This paper addresses a third dimension of internationalization, relating to review and decision-making, which is proving to be the most divisive in the negotiations to date. This aspect of internationalization is fundamental to allowing decisions taken on proposed activities to be seen as legitimate but concerns exist about the bureaucracy and costs that the process may entail, as well as potential interference with sovereign rights of States Parties under UNCLOS. This paper advances a proposal for internationalization of review and decision-making under the BBNJ agreement that attempts to bridge the divide evident going into the 4th session of the Inter-governmental Conference in 2021.
Formal and semi-formal networks are emerging as effective, collaborative, and adaptable approaches for addressing complex, rapidly evolving ocean governance issues. One such group of networks, which we refer to as marine-related learning networks, play multifaceted roles within ocean governance systems by facilitating knowledge creation, exchange, and dissemination, and by building the capacity of individuals and institutions to address problems and improve coastal and ocean governance. This study investigates the emergence, key attributes, and outcomes of marine-related networks using semi-structured interview data from 40 key informants representing 16 different networks that operate around the world at local, national, regional, and global scales. Our findings indicate that marine-related learning networks form in response to knowledge and action gaps and the specific needs of network members, and they function to inform policy and improve ocean management. Their success depends on attributes such as having a distinct purpose, building trust and relationships, emphasizing equitable participation, and supporting clear, sustained leadership. Marine-related learning networks are uniquely positioned to act as catalyzers and conduits to build capacity and develop solutions in response to governance needs through inclusive and collaborative responses to ongoing and emerging marine issues. As such, a broader understanding of their growing significance and the effective practices they employ is warranted.
The marine environment is particularly at risk from the intentional and unintentional introduction and spread of invasive alien species (IAS); preventing their introduction and spread from occurring is therefore, a key component in the on-going management of marine IAS. Ensuring legislation is coherent and consistent is essential to the success of managing the existing and future impacts of marine IAS. We explore the coherence (determined as consistency and interaction) of marine biosecurity legislation for IAS at different geopolitical scales. There was consistency between both the Bern Convention and Convention on Biological Diversity and European and national legislation that had been created in response. There was a lack of interaction evidenced by the Ballast Water Management Convention, which had not yet been transposed into regional (mainly European) or national legislation. Implementation measures such as legislation should be coherent as any failure in the chain could potentially weaken the overall effort to establish and maintain biosecurity and achieve behaviour change.
Traditional marine governance can create inferior results. Management decisions customarily reflect fluctuating political priorities and formidable special-interest influence. Governments face distrust and conflicts of interest. Industries face fluctuating or confusing rules. Communities feel disenfranchised to affect change. The marine environment exhibits the impacts. While perceived harm to diverse values and priorities, disputed facts and legal questions create conflict, informed and empowered public engagement prepares governments to forge socially legitimate and environmentally acceptable decisions. Integrity, transparency and inclusiveness matter. This article examines positive contributions engaged communities can make to marine governance and relates it to social license. Social license suffers critique as vague and manufactured. Here its traditional understanding as extra-legal approval that communities give to resource choices is broadened to include a legally sanctioned power to deliberate—social license to engage. The starting hypothesis rests in the legal tradition designating oceans as public assets for which governments hold fiduciary duties of sustainable management benefiting current and future generations. The public trust doctrine houses this legal custom. A procedural due process right for engaged communities should stem from this public-asset classification and afford marine stakeholders standing to ensure management policy accords with doctrinal principles. The (free), prior, informed consent participation standard provides best practice for engaged decision-making. Building on theories from law, social, and political science, we suggest robust public deliberation provides marine use actors methods to earn and sustain their social license to operate, while governmental legitimacy is bolstered by assuring public engagement opportunities are available and protected with outcomes utilized.
Marine and coastal activities are closely interrelated, and conflicts among different sectors can undermine management and conservation objectives. Governance systems for fisheries, power generation, irrigation, aquaculture, marine biodiversity conservation, and other coastal and maritime activities are typically organized to manage conflicts within sectors, rather than across them. Based on the discussions around eight case studies presented at a workshop held in Brest in June 2019, this paper explores institutional approaches to move beyond managing conflicts within a sector. We primarily focus on cases where the groups and sectors involved are heterogeneous in terms of: the jurisdiction they fall under; their objectives; and the way they value ecosystem services. The paper first presents a synthesis of frameworks for understanding and managing cross-sectoral governance conflicts, drawing from social and natural sciences. We highlight commonalities but also conceptual differences across disciplines to address these issues. We then propose a novel analytical framework which we used to evaluate the eight case studies. Based on the main lessons learned from case studies, we then discuss the feasibility and key determinants of stakeholder collaboration as well as compensation and incentive schemes. The discussion concludes with future research needs to support policy development and inform integrated institutional regimes that consider the diversity of stakeholder interests and the potential benefits of cross-sectoral coordination.
Deliberative governance is gaining increasing attention in the management of natural resources with conflicting stakes. Although disputed knowledge is known to affect deliberation, the role of perceptions is understudied. Based on a case study in the Dutch Wadden Sea, a marine protected area, we examine the social representations of shellfish fisheries and marine nature of stakeholders within one deliberative governance arrangement, the Mussel Covenant. Our results show that within this covenant there are two opposing social representations of marine nature which both are not in line with the agreed objectives. Instead, governmental policies still form the guidelines to covenant decisions. We conclude that diverging representations and state-influence decrease deliberation. Therefore, we argue that deliberative governance is not possible without explicitly considering the different cognitive, normative and expressive meanings attached to the marine area or issue at stake. To achieve deliberation, values of stakeholders should explicitly be acknowledged and discussed, and state-influence should be kept to a minimum.