One Ocean Hub Development Workshop

The complex challenges raised by ocean sustainability call for the creation of a diverse and inclusive community of researchers to allow for the broadest possible range of perspectives and scientific opinions to be explored. It is becoming increasingly evident that collaboration across the natural and social sciences needs to be strengthened, with a view to producing pragmatic and action-oriented recommendations for policy-making. In response to this need, the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG) held the ‘One Ocean Hub Development Workshop’, a two-day event (30 April – 1 May) that sought to strengthen ties and foster partnerships between marine experts spanning disciplines and geographic regions.

The workshop brought together researchers engaging with the blue economy, integrated coastal and marine management, the protection of the marine environment, marine science and technology, and the law of the sea, to discuss how to tackle threats to ocean health and related challenges for sustainable development. The event took as its starting point the outcome document of the 2017 UN Ocean Conference, titled ‘Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action’, and the interdisciplinary research findings coordinated by SCELG on Sustainable Development Goal 14 (‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’), which have been published in a special issue of Marine Policy on ‘SDG synergies for sustainable fisheries and poverty alleviation’.

Participants - many of whom are based in the Caribbean, Africa, and the South Pacific - discussed the key development challenges facing their countries, including the disconnect between socioeconomic and environmental policy objectives; the lack of timely and meaningful engagement with local communities and other stakeholders; the absence or weakness of conflict resolution mechanisms; a limited understanding of the complex interrelationship between humans and the ocean; the lack of clarity around the philosophies, values and power dynamics that underlie concepts such as ‘blue growth’; the lack of enforcement of environmental legislation (e.g., laws on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing); and the distinct challenges posed by global problems such as climate change and plastic pollution. Participants, however, agreed that, by fostering cross-regional and interdisciplinary learning, research partnerships can strengthen regional, national and local capacities to deal with these challenges. It was noted that particular attention must be placed on the needs of the most vulnerable groups within the respective societies, including women and ethnic minorities.

The workshop was followed by a roundtable on the ‘Ocean's Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals’, which sought to address 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 reiterated the importance of interdisciplinary and collaborative research, bringing into focus the value of initiatives such as the ‘One Ocean Hub Development Workshop’ and the roundtable as springboards for initiating dialogue and exploring options for greater synergy.

The workshop was held within the framework of the 2018 Festival of Environmental Law and Governance, a week-long program of events that explores current challenges and new directions across all aspects and levels of environmental law.

More information on our work on oceans is available here.