Our oceans depend on accountable, inclusive and transparent governance

March 23, 2023

Effective marine and coastal conservation relies on governance institutions that ensure inclusion and participation, uphold accountability and the rule of law, and ensure transparency while controlling corruption and illegal practice. This is the main findings in a new report from UNDPs Global Policy Centre for Governance and The German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), which investigates how the quality of governance helps protect our world’s ocean. 

Studying the interlinkage between SDG 16 on 'peace, justice, and strong institutions,' and SDG 14 on 'life below water,' the report looks at the effects of inclusion and participation; accountability and rule of law; and transparency and control of corruption and crime, on marine pollution, marine protection and sustainable fisheries. 

“Inclusive stakeholder engagement is crucial in marine protection! Our report shows that meaningful stakeholder engagement in marine protection efforts fosters trust, ownership and cooperation which makes the efforts more accepted and legitimate, and thereby more effective” says Arvinn Gadgil, director for UNDPs Global Policy Centre for Governance. 

The report details that protection efforts, such as the setting up of marine protected areas, which neglect stakeholder engagement and fail to acknowledge local interests, needs, identities, and expertise can provoke resistance, conflict, and illicit activity, which ultimately cause harm to both the ecosystem and society. Another strong finding is that the different elements of governance can mutually reinforce each other, leading to even better outcomes on SDG 14. For example, regulation efforts are more effective if they are combined with stakeholder engagement.

“The vastness of our world’s ocean makes enforcement of sustainability standards out at sea challenging. Empirical evidence from across the globe nevertheless suggests a clear pattern: inclusive, transparent governance and strong regulatory and civil society forces that hold ocean actors accountable significantly contribute to a more sustainable balance between humans and the marine ecosystems.” says Anna-Katharina Hornidge, director of IDOS.

The report can be downloaded here


For more information contact Emilie Andresen via phone 0047 464 63 687 or email emilie.andresen@undp.com