A new platform aims to mobilise different stakeholders for a more committed maritime policy.
A new platform aims to mobilise different stakeholders for a more committed maritime policy. Shutterstock/Tawansak

Headline: International Ocean Governance Forum


With the support of a project consortium that the IASS is partner to, the European Commission is in the process of implementing a new platform for discussion and exchange on international ocean governance: the International Ocean Governance Forum (IOG Forum). Ocean actors and stakeholders are invited to participate in the Forum's online-seminars, thematic workshops, conferences and online consultations and develop joint proposals to advance the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean. In this way the IOG Forum is contributing to the further development of European Union policy on international ocean governance.

EU aims to strengthen international ocean governance

In their 2016 Joint Communication "International Ocean Governance (IOG): an agenda for the future of our oceans"", the European Commission and the EU High Representative set out how the European Union (EU) can contribute to a more sustainable use of the world's ocean and seas. The proposed measures are intended to strengthen the regulatory framework for international ocean governance, reduce the pressures on the ocean, ensure sustainable use of marine resources, and expand knowledge on the ocean. This agenda is one of the EU's contributions to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular to Sustainable Development Goal 14, which focuses on the protection and sustainable use of the ocean, seas and their resources. In the four years since the Joint Communication, progress has been made towards many of the 50 actions prioritized by the EU. Nevertheless, policy challenges remain which can only be addressed through targeted measures, strong partnerships, multilateral dialogue, or international cooperation.

New platform unites ocean governance actors

Led by the Directorate-General for Marine Affairs and Fisheries (DG Mare), the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) are now developing a new dialogue platform for actors and stakeholders involved in various aspects of ocean governance. The aim is to work out joint solutions to address challenges related to ocean conservation and the sustainable use of the ocean, and make recommendations for how the EU can play a more effective role in international ocean governance.

The IASS is involved in both the conceptual development and implementation of the new platform, the International Ocean Governance (IOG) Forum. The IOG Forum aims to mobilise states, international and regional organisations, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to further advance policy and action for improved ocean governance and foster fruitful exchange between these actors through targeted activities. These include interactive conferences, online workshops and a targeted consultation.

The work is organised via three thematic working groups (TWG):

The concept and work programme of the IOG Forum are continually refined and implemented in close collaboration with the European Commission and the EEAS, led by a consortium of project partners from ACTeon Environment, Fresh Thoughts Consulting, TMG - Think Tank for Sustainability, European Marine Board and the IASS. Together with TMG - Think Tank for Sustainability, the IASS contributes in particular to activities related to international marine governance.

A transdisciplinary approach for joint knowledge production and political acceptance

As a kick-off, three introductory online-seminars were held from 22 to 24 April 2020 to present the thematic focus of the IOG Forum and gather initial feedback from international ocean experts and actors.

Key action areas that could be consolidated through this first virtual working round were discussed in depth with selected experts in a series of online workshops in summer 2020 and starting points for their implementation were identified. Supplemented by the results of a targeted stakeholder consultation conducted online in late summer 2020, these were compiled in a background paper.

These formed the working basis for the second EU International Ocean Governance Forum held on 14-16 December 2020. Under the title 'Setting the Course for a Sustainable Blue Planet', the proposals put forward were critically revisited and concrete options for their implementation developed. In cooperation with experts from science and politics, these were then consolidated into concrete recommendations for action and presented to the public and policymakers on 20 April 2021 at a virtual final event.

The recommendations for action will inform the further development of the European Union's IOG agenda. Individual aspects within the recommendations for action will be developed and specified further by the project team in close cooperation with experts.

This project is funded by the European Commission's Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).