A fresh look at improving ocean governance - new study

10 June 2010 | News story

A new study discussing governance options to improve the conservation and management of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction was developed by four students in a partnership between the John Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

As part of the partnership, four students completed a “practicum” assignment with IUCN’s Global Marine Programme, with a view to develop a framework for new global agreements; improve implementation of existing agreements; and enhance the development of customary international law on a regional basis.

This was a great experience for us”, said Tom Laughlin, Deputy Head of the Global Marine Programme. “We met and worked with some bright young students, hopefully enriching their education, while IUCN gained a useful study to expand the discussion of these key issues.”

The students, Albert Bossar, Steve Capanna, Chiara Lucchini Gilera and Johanna Von Der Weppen were part of IUCN’s delegation to the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group of the UN General Assembly to study issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction which was held in New York from 1 to 5 February 2010. For that meeting, the students prepared a background paper updating information on marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Working with IUCN has been an extremely enriching experience for us and it is rewarding to have the chance to contribute concretely to international discussions”, explained Johanna Von Der Weppen, a student at SAIS. “Attending and presenting at international conferences has also been a great learning experience”.

The students’ main governance paper was presented at the 5th Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands in Paris in May 2010. The paper analyzes four governance options with respect of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.

It evaluates ways to improve the status quo without the adoption of a new agreement or the creation of any additional bodies; strengthen Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and Regional Seas Conventions; adopt a new implementing agreement to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and develop new United Nations General Assembly resolutions.

The students were of the view that these four options were the most likely strategies the international community would pursue to attempt to improve the sustainability of activities beyond national jurisdiction. The study presents potential costs, benefits and disadvantages for each option.