In order to meet the challenges ahead of us, we need oceans that are clean and sustainably managed. The Ocean Governance project looks at how we can rethink international marine policy.
In order to meet the challenges ahead of us, we need oceans that are clean and sustainably managed. The Ocean Governance project looks at how we can rethink international marine policy. istock/Arrangements-Photography

Headline: Ocean Governance

Humans depend on a healthy and productive ocean - for their livelihoods, health, and cultures. As well as being a vital source of sustenance, the ocean regulates the global climate and hosts a wealth of biodiversity. But it is facing growing threats as human uses and impacts continue to exceed sustainable limits. A lack of adequate management frameworks is adding to the severe pressures on it.

The Ocean Governance research group at the IASS generates knowledge and initiates participatory dialogues in order to analyse and respond to the causes of ocean decline and to support ocean governance processes. It also contributes to the development of new approaches and regulatory frameworks.

Its transformative work focuses on three processes:

  • The implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the Sustainable Development Goal on oceans, seas, and marine resources (SDG 14)
  • The negotiation of a legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ)
  • The development of international rules for deep seabed mining

The interdisciplinary team addresses the following key questions: How can the SDGs be translated into policy processes? How can marine biodiversity be protected in areas beyond national jurisdiction? What regulatory frameworks do we need to manage the mining of deep seabed mineral resources?

As part of a transdisciplinary research agenda, the team also provides solution-oriented advice to decision-makers and societal actors with a view to transforming the responses to the urgent challenges facing our ocean.

In addition to the projects listed below, the research group conducts the project "Marine Conservation in the Arctic" in cooperation with the group "Arctic Governance".


Ocean Governance

The IASS Ocean Governance project supports knowledge-based transformation processes for the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal systems. It focuses on the most salient challenges for ocean sustainability and related policy processes such as the 2030 Agenda and its ocean goal SDG 14 and the negotiation of a new international agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity on the high seas.

Strengthening Regional Ocean Governance for the High Seas (STRONG High Seas)

The high seas span a vast area and make up nearly two thirds of the world's oceans. Existing governance frameworks do not adequately provide for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity in these areas. This project supports regional and national institutions in the Southeast Atlantic and Southeast Pacific regions with the task of developing integrated governance approaches.

Marine Conservation in the Arctic

The melting of sea ice in the Arctic leads to new opportunities for economic exploitation, but also poses risks to the fragile marine environment. In the research project, the project partners are examining, among other things, the use of Arctic marine resources and the introduction of conservation measures. The project is a cooperation of the research groups "Arctic Governance" and "Ocean Governance".

Deep Seabed Mining - Test Mining and Fair Benefit Sharing

The project analyses the governance framework for potential mining activities in the Area beyond national jurisdiction. In dialogue with stakeholders from the science and policy communities and civil society, IASS researchers are generating independent reports and other input to support the international negotiation process under the umbrella of the International Seabed Authority.

International Ocean Governance Forum

With IASS support, the European Commission is in the process of developing a new platform for discussion and exchange on international ocean governance: the International Ocean Governance Forum (IOG Forum). Ocean actors and stakeholders are invited to participate in the Forum's online webinars and thematic workshops, targeted online consultations and conferences to develop joint proposals to advance the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean. In this way the IOG Forum is contributing to the further development of European Union policy on international ocean governance.