SCELG submits evidence to UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights

May 2022 — On 27th April 2022, Prof Elisa Morgera, Dr Bernadette Snow and Dr Senia Febrica submitted, together with other colleagues of the One Ocean Hub, written evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights to provide ‘inputs to a report on cultural rights and sustainable development.’ The submission summarised evidence related to:

  • Missing connections between cultural heritage and blue economies;
  • Barriers to the integration of cultural rights in blue economies;
  • The role of arts in supporting the protection of ocean-related cultural rights; and
  • Lessons learned in piloting innovative approaches to the recognition and protection of ocean culture and cultural heritage. 

The submission underscored that consideration of cultural heritage, cultural and spiritual connections to the ocean, as well as customary laws and customary sustainable uses of ocean spaces and resources, can support sustainable blue economies that are context-specific and responsive to human rights-holders’ needs, knowledge systems, and resilience (rather than based on assumptions around poverty and vulnerability) with a view to supporting flourishing relationships in harmony with a healthy environment and ocean. 

On the other hand, the disregard for the role of cultural heritage in livelihoods practices prevents blue economies from taking into account locally grounded and culturally significant opportunities for sustainable fisheries and tourism, which can also contribute to gender equality (a gap identified in a recently published paper by Elisa and Hub colleagues on blue economy policies: Niner at al., 2022). 

In addition, as demonstrated by the art-based research methodologies under the Hub, the submission underscored that arts, cultural expertise and creative capabilities can shape new approaches for transdisciplinary ocean research and inclusive ocean governance. Hub researchers are now capturing learning from these experiences with a view to supporting other ocean researchers and influencing ocean research funders in the framework of the UN Decade for Ocean Science. 

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