After a spout of optimism surrounding Myanmar's so-called democratic transition in the post-2010 period, civil-society organisations and academics are beginning to highlight rampant and violent resource grabs unfolding across the country. Delving into the Northern Tanintharyi landscape in the Southeast, this article aims to understand interrelated dynamics of coastal and agrarian transformation during the state-mediated capitalist transition of the past 30 years. Conceptually developing a landscape-approach that sees individual ‘grabs’ in a relational manner and as part of broader political-economic struggles, the article shows how the Myanmar military regime sought a conjoined ocean and land control-grab in pursuit of rent extraction from productive foreign capital in fisheries and off-shore gas sectors. Empirically, these dynamics are traced from the scale of regional geopolitical struggles down to two particular villages in Northern Tanintharyi – highlighting resulting processes of differentiation along lines of class and gender. This conceptual framework and explanation of drivers behind ocean and land control-grabbing, in turn, complicates prevalent policy solutions in Myanmar (and elsewhere) that reduce the question of resolving resource-grabs to the pursuit of an elusive ‘good governance’.
Governance and Legal Frameworks
In December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene an intergovernmental conference to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This legally binding instrument would address four elements, namely marine protected areas, marine genetic resources, environmental impact assessments and capacity building and technology transfer. One of the indicators for the success of the legally binding instrument will be an institutional mechanism that is both effective and that can co-exist with existing mechanisms. There is already a proposal for an institutional mechanism under the implementing agreement. However, the proposed institutional mechanism was developed largely with marine protected areas in mind. The purpose of this article is to determine whether this proposed mechanism could work also for the marine genetic resources element of the proposed treaty. This is necessitated by the fact that the marine genetic resources element of the proposed treaty is far more complex and raises issues that are more intractable.
Private standard setting by non‐State actors has gained increasing attention and has expanded to regulating various activities. Maritime activities are no exception. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets private standards to govern maritime activities in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization. These ISO standards are incorporated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea system and will likely play a more important role in the future. However, the relationship between these standards and the law of the sea has not yet been analysed. This article therefore examines the contribution of private standards, especially those set by the ISO, to ocean governance and evaluates this contribution from a global administrative law perspective. Since the ISO is the largest entity that sets private standards, it can serve as a model for other non‐State actors that set private standards to govern maritime activities.
Since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, several countries, funding organizations, environmental groups and research communities have pledged support and made commitment to help achieve these goals. SDG14: Life Below Water, for instance, has been embraced as the global goal for conservation and sustainable uses of the oceans, seas and marine resources. Among its many targets, SDG14b speaks directly to small-scale fisheries, calling for secured access to resources and markets for this sector. We argue that achieving SDG 14b requires a holistic approach encompassing several SDGs, including livelihoods, economic growth, community sustainability, strong institutions and partnerships. It is also important to align the SDG targets with the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines), as the mutuality that exists between the scope and nature of the two instruments can help guide the formulation of appropriate governance tools. Yet, the alignment of these two instruments alone does not guarantee sustainability of small-scale fisheries, especially without an official mandate from the governments. The case in point is the European Union where small-scale fisheries are not sufficiently recognized within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), despite being the largest sector (75% of the fleet). Through an examination of the CFP in the context of the SSF Guidelines and the SDGs, we discuss options and possibilities for inclusive consideration of small-scale fisheries in the upcoming policy reform, which might then lead to both achieving fisheries sustainability and the SDGs in the EU.
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.
The importance of regional and subregional levels in global ocean governance is being increasingly recognised. Regional approaches are prominent in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The UN Environment Regional Seas Programme bodies focusing on pollution and biodiversity and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) regional fisheries bodies focusing on fisheries are the best known regional arrangements. However, there are other regional and subregional multilateral agreements that should be considered in building comprehensive regional ocean governance; in particular ‘indigenous’ agreements developed by the countries of the regions. This study examined 165 regional arrangements related to ecosystem-based management of oceans and allocated them into 20 regional clusters covering most of the world's oceans. The study explores the characteristics of these regional clusters which exhibit characteristics of polycentric systems. The suite of 20 regional clusters as well as global level oceans arrangements raises the question of whether there is an overall governance structure that should be pursued to strengthen ocean governance as envisaged in the Sustainable Development Goals and provide a holistic context for improving regional ocean governance. This study poses the question as to whether polycentric regional clusters can provide the ‘missing link’ for achieving global ocean governance objectives and whether these clusters are more than just the sum of their arrangements.
There is general consensus that claimants to the South China Sea (SCS) should set aside territorial disputes and cooperate to preserve the natural resources of the sea. These resources are vital to millions of fishermen and consumers but are severely overexploited. Failure to prevent further exploitation or replenish stocks will exacerbate tensions in the SCS as countries compete for dwindling resources. Understanding how and where to start cooperating is a topic of much debate, and few ideas have gained enough traction for implementation. This report suggests that agreements can be built from existing commonalities in national laws and policies concerning fisheries and the marine environment. Utilizing these commonalities could help to build confidence by showing that despite disputes, there are in fact similarities and areas of alignment. This would not only build confidence but may serve as a less contentious route toward cooperation, because countries are agreeing - at a regional level - on criteria they already agree on at a national level. This concept is explored by looking at the fisheries and marine environmental laws and policies of China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The coastal zone offers many goods and services ranging from production to recreation and protection. During the last half century, human interventions on the Romanian Black Sea coast have abruptly changed the natural trends of coastal evolution, increasing erosion rates on many coastal sectors and transforming the natural landscape with major impact on coastal ecosystems. This required decision makers to develop effective coastal and marine conservation regulations and programs. This paper uses Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) as a conceptual framework to examine the currently emerging governance issues, due to the growing pressure from increasingly diverse human activities coupled with climate change impacts, that threaten the functional integrity of the coastal ecosystems. A proper evaluation and understanding of the policy framework helped us to identify the prerequisites for participative management. Results indicate that the legislation is sectorial, the competences are overlapping and the responsibilities are scattered. The analysis shows that policies related to governance of coastal and marine resources are not well synchronized and they signal an important gap in policy. Input from stakeholders helps us to understand some of the failures that are not present in the literature, since most of them occur at the local level.
The expectations on marine spatial planning to improve environmental governance of the Baltic Sea are high, not least for helping to close the huge gaps between environmental objectives and the state of the marine environment. This article focuses on the on-going implementation of marine spatial planning in Sweden, well-known to be a forerunner in environmental policy. Aiming to identify governance recommendations, the study analyses how the first consultation document for the Baltic Sea may complement existing governance systems and promote gap closure. A particular focus is placed on the potential impact of the plan on the implementation of an ecosystem approach to management (EAM) and how these issues are regarded by involved stakeholders. It is shown that the planning process promotes participation, but that the studied plan as such most likely does not significantly help to close any larger environmental goal-state gaps. A number of recommendations on how to develop the plan are discussed, but significant improvements require broader governance reforms, in particular concerning coordination and integration in relation to legislation on other marine and water strategies, as well as policies and laws for fisheries, agriculture and industrial chemicals. Major policy development is thus needed in order to allow marine spatial planning in Sweden, and most likely in several other geographical areas as well, to significantly help closing goal-state gaps in the future.
East Asia encompasses six large marine ecosystems (LME): the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the Sulu-Celebes Sea, and the Indonesian Sea. Despite occupying only 3 percent of the world’s ocean surface, portions of this area are considered to be the global center of marine biodiversity. Since the early 1990s, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) has refined the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) methodology and fostered a collaborative, partnership approach in the region to implement sustainable coastal and ocean development of these LMEs. ICM provided the foundational delivery system promoting interdisciplinary approaches and cooperation among users and beneficiaries to address complex development issues. While addressing marine pollution at the beginning, it became obvious that it had to be tackled in the context of the whole marine environment and sustainable development. PEMSEA developed and adopted the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) as the regional policy instrument from which countries of the region and other partners, individually or in groups, could apply the action programmes relevant to them. This in-depth review article describes the evolution of PEMSEA from a regional marine pollution project to an international organization, highlighting key developments, such as the SDS-SEA, the ICM Code, and the Ocean Investment Service, as well the advancement of ICM throughout the East Asian region and the adoption of the State of Oceans and Coasts reporting system to track progress. Looking forward, we summarize a United Nations Environment and IOC-UNESCO assessment of the current baseline status of these East Asian LMEs to examine future key areas for intervention by PEMSEA.