September 24, 2018

Mapping Ocean Governance and Regulation

Publishers: DNV GL, UN Global Compact Action

Language: English

The well-being of humanity is inextricably linked to the health of ocean ecosystems and the stability of the ocean's biogeochemical processes. Although the ocean already sustains a range of industries, its potential as a dynamo for sustainable development has led it to be dubbed the new economic frontier. This report introduces a mapping exercise that demonstrates how uneven the governance landscape is across the industries that populate this frontier. Six industries are considered: international shipping, offshore oil and gas, offshore renewable energy, marine aquaculture, marine fisheries and seabed mining. While some, such as maritime shipping, have well-established and extensive governance structures encompassing a wide breadth of public and private sector actors, others like the seabed mining industry are still in a state of emergence. Crucially, all ocean-based industries are having an impact on the health of ocean ecosystems. In addition, many of the challenges the ocean faces, including climate change, ocean plastics, and biodiversity loss, transcend the capacity of a single industry or a single state to address. Concerted action is needed to ensure coherent action across thematic areas and towards addressing cross-cutting ocean challenges. Due regard must also be taken to linkages between land, water, coastal and marine systems. Finally, effective implementation and enforcement of the rules and arrangements that have been agreed upon must continue to be prioritised.

Ocean-based industries are well-positioned to act in line with the principles of the UN Global Compact, to promote sustainable and socially responsible operations. In some cases, the governance and implementation gaps highlighted in this report are already being mitigated through voluntary private sector initiatives that often go beyond the threshold of compliance to promote new norms of best practice. The diversity of experience across the industries represented in the Platform for Sustainable Ocean Business provides an opportunity for learning and sharing of best practice, while the scale of the crosscutting challenges facing the ocean underscores the need for cross-sectoral cooperation. Collectively, the ocean-based industries are of relevance to all of the Sustainable Development Goals, and most specifically to achieving the suite of targets under Goal #14 on Life Below Water.