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Capacity Development for Oceans, Coasts, and the 2030 Agenda

08 Aug 2016

Oceans, coasts, and marine resources are vital to human health and wellbeing. Protecting the long-term sustainability of our oceans will depend upon the adoption of effective ocean governance practices and the strengthening of the necessary capacities and institutions. The recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Agenda (2030 Agenda) offers a unique opportunity to advance sustainable ocean governance. 

The last decade has seen a shift away from conventional marine management, typically characterized by single species, single issue approaches, and towards an approach that views oceans as holistic systems with human components. Marine ecosystem-based management (MEBM), as this approach is generally known, represents the best known practice to ensure the long-term sustainability of oceans and the benefits that they provide. Most governments and practitioners worldwide are transitioning to MEBM in policy and practice. Its implementation, we suggest, is fundamental to delivering on the 2030 Agenda for oceans and coasts.

Despite the vital significance of MEBM to the future of ocean health, longstanding obstacles have hindered its full adoption by most governments and management organisations. Fostering its adoption and implementation will require Capacity Development (CD) measures focused on strengthening local and regional capacities and supporting key institutions as they transition to MEBM and beyond. Many governments and organisations are calling for and engaging in CD. Little guidance exists, however, on how to fund, design, implement, and measure the impact of efforts to strengthen ocean governance capacities. This leads to inconsistencies in discourse and practice, and, as with marine management that ignores the human dimension, may bring harm to intended beneficiaries.

To address the need for guidance on strengthening capacity to support the transition to MEBM, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies hosted a series of knowledge exchanges involving international experts with decades of experience in capacity development in marine and coastal management. The keystone event in this series was the 2016 Potsdam Ocean Governance Workshop, in which global participants contributed both policy and technical experience gained in community-based, government-to-government, and regional ocean governance initiatives, as well as global capacity development initiatives from across the world’s oceans and seas. 

Tags: coastal ecosystems oceans capacity development

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