Top Lists

Best Practices in Stakeholder Engagement

The effective engagement of stakeholders can be critically important to ocean planning and management processes. This is the case whether stakeholders have a formal role in decision-making or simply an informal advisory voice. Engaging stakeholders in ways that meet their needs - as well as the needs of planners and managers - can spell the difference between a process that captures the will and respect of stakeholders and one that faces public pushback.

The list below offers guidance on identifying stakeholders, securing their participation, managing conflict, and more.

Financing for Ocean Conservation and Planning

There are few topics of greater interest to the marine conservation and planning field than financing. The reason: the field needs more of it. Most MPAs simply do not have the funds needed to address all their management needs, and MSP processes alike would benefit from improved financial support and expertise. The good news is that help is on the way. Organizations have emerged to help practitioners navigate the challenges of financing. Creative new opportunities are arising to generate new revenue streams. And private investors are starting to look at the field as a chance to fund conservation while making money at the same time. These developments signal substantial opportunities for growth in marine conservation financing.

The list below provides a snapshot of the state of the art in funding for ocean planning, management, and conservation — from diversifying funding streams, to starting successful endowments, to harnessing private impact investment, and more.

Marketing and Communications for Effective Ocean Planning/Management

For ocean planning and management processes to be effective and cost-effective in the long term, they benefit greatly from the support of their stakeholders. Without such backing, a marine protected area or marine spatial plan may find that users disregard the goals and regulations they don't support. Compliance can go down and enforcement costs go up - neither result ideal. Building a base of support, whether from specific stakeholder groups or the community at large, requires practitioners to be able to communicate effectively with their audiences. This involves not only what the practitioners say but how they say it, and how they engage the community in dialogue.

The following items provide a primer on how practitioners can engage their audiences effectively, what tools are most useful, and what the marine sector can learn from the field of marketing.

Blue Carbon

When carbon (namely as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas) is absorbed and stored by oceanic plants, it is called blue carbon. Mangrove forests, salt marshes, and seagrass beds are examples: as these habitats grow, they capture and store carbon as living plant material and in the sediment below them. This storage removes carbon from the atmosphere for years or decades, thus helping to counter the impacts of climate change. However, when the habitats are destroyed, much of their carbon is released back to the atmosphere and ocean, adding to the Earth's greenhouse gas load.

The following items provide a quick primer on the concept of blue carbon, methods for assessing its benefits, and how coastal and marine resource managers are working to capture it.

Marine Debris

Marine debris also called marine litter or, increasingly, ocean plastic  is one of the most widespread challenges the ocean faces. Whether visible (a plastic bag floating on the sea surface; a discarded fishing net snagged on coral) or too tiny for our eyes to see (like the fast-growing problem of microplastics), marine debris now exists nearly everywhere in the world ocean, including at the deepest depths. It is impacting wildlife and the food chain, and has become a concern for ocean planners and managers. The following items offer a primer on the science of marine debris, its impacts, and how practitioners are working to address it.

Marine Protected Area Enforcement

MPA enforcement – which covers surveillance, policing, and prosecution – can take many forms, from the latest high-tech tools to low-tech community-based strategies. Choosing the right tools and strategies depends on the budget, management capacity, and physical characteristics of each MPA. The following items offer a primer on how managers and tool-developers are approaching MPA enforcement, including good practices for encouraging stakeholder compliance with MPA regulations.