Roundtable on the ‘Ocean's Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals’
On 1 May 2018, the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG) held a roundtable on the ‘Ocean's Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals’. The roundtable brought together marine science, policy and legal experts from the UK, the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific to discuss recent advances and continuous challenges in marine science and global governance, shedding light on opportunities and bottlenecks for the integrated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The event was opened by the Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, who offered examples of the cutting-edge research being carried out across the University of Strathclyde in relation to the ocean, as well as the efforts that the University is undertaking to ensure that this research is having a tangible impact on the ground. The Principal’s introduction highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary and cross-regional collaboration, bringing into focus the value of events such as the roundtable and the ‘One Ocean Hub Development Workshop’ as springboards for initiating dialogue and exploring options for greater synergy.
Dr Margherita Brunori Captures the Essence of the Presentations
Following the Principal’s introduction, an all-female panel featuring marine science, policy and legal experts from the UK, the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific discussed how our understanding of the oceans and marine life, as well as their importance for human well-being and sustainable development, has progressed in recent years. The panel, chaired by SCELG’s Dr Saskia Vermeylen, featured candid presentations by SCELG Director Professor Elisa Morgera, Professor Amanda Lombard (Nelson Mandela University), Professor Gilianne Brodie (University of South Pacific), Dr Sian Rees (Plymouth University), Dr Claire Lajaunie (Inserm), Dr Philile Mbatha (University of Cape Town), Alana Lancaster (University of the West Indies), and Kelly Hoaereau (University of Seychelles). The presentations illuminated current threats to ocean health and possible solutions to ensure that the ocean is used sustainably and protected where needed. Several common themes emerged:
- The need for broad public involvement in policy- and decision-making processes relating to the ocean, with a view to ensuring that the concerns of local communities and other stakeholders are taken into account from an early stage.
- The importance of integrated tools and processes (e.g., marine spatial planning, integrated coastal zone management) for resolving conflicts and promoting synergies between different marine and maritime sectors (e.g., fisheries, tourism, mining).
- The need to make human rights a part of the discussion on ocean sustainability – a paradigm shift that must take place across all levels, from the high-level discussions taking place within international fora to local decision-making processes. Ongoing research within SCELG on benefit-sharing and the contribution of marine ecosystem services to poverty alleviation and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals seeks to make the connection between human rights and ocean sustainability more explicit and to translate relevant research findings to concrete recommendations for policy-makers.