The Marine Regions Forum:
A workshop on the involvement of regions in global ocean governance
Blog post by Kyle Fawkes,UCC
Regimes to govern the oceans and their resources have increasingly sought integrated and international approaches. The establishment of SDG14 and its seven targets have perhaps underscored this best. Regional bodies have emerged as a socially and environmentally relevant approach to addressing SDG14 and related coastal challenges. The Marine Regions Forum (MRF) was convened from September 30 – October 2 to consider how the regions can contribute to achieving healthy oceans beyond 2020.
The forum served as an informal and transdisciplinary platform that aimed to galvanize efforts toward SDG14 through the motivation of initiatives, actions and partnerships at the regional level. It attracted participation from across the ocean governance arena and inlcuded decision makers, scientists and civil society actors. Hosted by the European Commission, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), TMG Think Tank for Sustainability, the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency) and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), the forumfeatured a series of dialogue sessions covering SDG14, global governance processes and knowledge for action. Two of these sessions were co-lead by Future Earth Coasts. On October 1, FEC’s Executive Director Sebastian Ferse facilitated a session with colleagues from the IASS, on the role of traditional ecological knowledge in regional ocean governance. The presentations and dialogue focused on lessons learned from the Arctic Council and Pacific Island Nations, benefits and limitations of combining traditional knowledge with western science, legal and political recognition of traditional knowledge, how to better integrate traditional knowledge within science-policy processes and the need for guiding principles for traditional knowledge application. Then on October 2nd, an FEC team composed of Valerie Cummins, Kyle Fawkes and Sebastian Ferse joined Glen Wright from IDDRI to facilitate a session on enhancing the role of regions in global ocean assessments. The presentations and dialogue focused on lessons learned from the European Union and the First World Ocean Assessment, barriers and opportunities for regional involvement in global assessments, the application of assessments for sustainable pathways, the institutional landscape of global assessments, indicator and methodological standardization and knowledge co-production.
In the closing plenary of the MRF, Alexander Müller of TMG and Sébastian Treyer of IDDRI highlighted four general perspectives that emerged from the dialogue sessions. These included; (1) the necessity for acknowledgement of different needs across regions and particularly in the case of vulnerable regions, (2) the growing importance of knowledge for action in the science-policy interface, (3) the need to break down global long-term goals into measurable actions that make stakeholders accountable and (4) the need for accelerating regional leadership and mutual learning across these regions. These key messages will be refined and sent to ‘relevant global and regional processes, including the 2020 UN Ocean Conference’ in Lisbon, Portugal.