Ocean Governance

Planet Earth is blue. The Ocean covers approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface. Almost 3 billion people depend on the oceans as their primary source of food. The Ocean provides habitats for a huge portion of the world’s biological diversity and plays a decisive role in regulating the global climate. Overfishing, pollution from land-based sources, marine debris and the impacts of maritime traffic and offshore oil drilling have contributed to the fact that half of the world’s oceans are now considered highly influenced by human activity. Governance of the global oceans, which was emphasized as a central sustainability challenge at Rio+20, entails complex issues from policy, legal and scientific perspectives. When considering strategies for improving ocean governance, we must bear in mind that the world has profoundly changed since the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) - the “constitution of the ocean” - was adopted in 1982. Now ocean management must respond to the ever-increasing challenges of a globalized world, including a growing population, profound pressures on ecosystems, rapid technological advances and the growing complexity of governance systems.

The Ocean Governance Group has the aim:

  • To analyse key challenges for sustainability in the ocean and to develop strategies for governance reform
  • To identify options for improving the protection and sustainable use of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (“the High Seas”)
  • To foster dialogue between science, policy-making and stakeholders

The research is carried out in close collaboration with other projects across IASS and external partners such as the Institute for Sustainable Development and Foreign Relations, Paris (IDDRI), Duke University, GEOMAR (Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research) and the University of Kiel, the Alfred-Wegener-Institute and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).