Online meeting. Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash
Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash

Overarching Dialogue Forum

On September 29, the OCEANS PACT team organised the first overarching dialogue forum. The main focus of the meeting was to connect forum members and the research teams. Another purpose of the dialogue forum was to provide advice on the framing, implementation and institutionalisation of the OCEANS PACT research. 

Dialogue Forum members are drawn from a number of international bodies and organisations that are influential in efforts to better understand and enable ocean sustainability, including

  • Future Earth’s applied research networks IMBER and Future Earth Coasts, and Ocean Knowledge Action Network
  • IUCN
  • Ocean Conservancy
  • The Ocean Foundation
  • Wildlife Conservation Society
  • World Ocean Council

Also included are internationally recognised scholars who specialise in various aspects of ocean law and governance, environmental dispute resolution, and global ocean sustainability and conflict transformation.

During the meeting, the six cases studies were presented, as well as an overview of the project conceptualisation and milestones and a comparative analysis.  

Each presentation summarised the case study context, key issues in contention, the stakeholders involved, and research findings to date.

Next steps will include exploring ways to involve Dialogue Forum members in shaping the direction of the overall research project, involvement in relevant case studies, and to identifying practical ways to share learning from the research, and where possible institutionalise this learning in organisations involved in efforts to transform ocean conflict.

The presentations can be found under each case study on the page Marine conflict cases.

Photo: Luca Lago/Unsplash
Photo: Luca Lago/Unsplash

Blue conflicts and pathways to sustainability 

At the 2021 MARE People and the Sea Conference, OCEANS PACT organised the session Blue conflicts and pathways to sustainability.

The session included eleven paper presentations, related discussions and audience engagement and was associated with Belmont Forum’s ongoing collaborative research action on ocean sustainability.

Ocean Conflicts – Insights from the MARE Session, Blue conflicts and pathways to sustainability 



Photo: "Overcast skies in Virginia Beach" by Randi Deuro is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Photo: "Overcast skies in Virginia Beach" by Randi Deuro is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Meeting between University of Virginia and Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program

The University of Virginia's (UVA) Frank Dukes and Alexandra Cook met with the director of Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, Laura McKay, to begin planning for their work together. The Virginia Ocean Planning process, spearheaded by CZM, is in its initial planning stages and the UVA team will be able to engage in action research as the planning gets underway. A kickoff meeting of diverse stakeholders is planned for October, 2021.

Photo: "Overcast skies in Virginia Beach" by Randi Deuro is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay
Photo: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay

Planner workshop – Bridging the Science-Practice-Society Interface 

On May 19, Michael Gilek, Fred Saunders and Ralph Tafon, Södertörn University, organized a workshop with focus on marine planners’ opportunities and challenges linked to marine sustainability.   

The aim of the workshop was to bridge barriers and locate spaces for building mutual understanding of different needs and ambitions to foster greater collaboration. Representatives from Sweden and other countries around the Baltic Sea participated in the workshop. 

While several national differences were observed in term of, for example, which ministry/authority is tasked with the planning responsibility, several recurring challenges and opportunities were also identified. Notably, most of the planners had experienced challenging conflicts and disagreements between various sectoral and policy interests and objectives (e.g. energy, shipping, defence, nature protection). Balancing local vs. national priorities and interests was also a commonly mentioned difficulty. 

Although there was general agreement that marine conflicts are not always easily solvable, the participants identified collaboration between planners and researchers as a crucial element of further developing marine planning practice and research. 

Panel discussion on conflicts at sea

In October 2020, Michael Gilek, OCEANS PACT project coordinator, participated in a panel discussion arranged by Södertörn University. The topic of the panel discussion was conflicts at sea and Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentConserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 

'Globally, questions about how to level this playing field through strengthening the positions of vulnerable groups are extra important', Michael Gilek says*. 

Representatives from The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and the Environmental Objectives Council also participated in the panel. 

The recorded panel discussion is available at (in Swedish) 

*Quote translated from Swedish.