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ECPR

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Understanding and Integrating Regional Ocean Governance Regimes

Governance
Regionalism
UN
Comparative Perspective
Robin Mahon
Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus St. Michael, Barbados
Robin Mahon
Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus St. Michael, Barbados
Lucia Fanning
Dalhousie University

Abstract

Regional ocean governance has been proposed as essential for sustainable use of ocean and coastal ecosystems. The UN Environment Regional Seas Programme has been promoting regional ocean governance for 17 ocean regions since its inception. Regional Seas conventions, protocols and action plans (43/158) are an important part of regional ocean governance. However, there are many other regional and subregional multilateral agreements that must be taken into consideration in building comprehensive regional ocean governance (115/158). Some are associated with UN bodies, but there are many ‘indigenous’ agreements developed solely by the countries of the regions. These ‘indigenous’ agreements may be issue specific or multipurpose economic agreements that include ocean affairs and must be taken into consideration. Dealing with the entire suite of regional agreements is challenging for countries and regional organisations for several reasons; not the least being capacity to engage. There are few well developed regional coordination mechanisms to provide the integration needed for ecosystem based management. Addressing these issues requires understanding the mandates and roles of the full set of organisations and agreements in each region and the options for developing integration mechanisms, which may vary considerably among regions. This study explores the suites of regional agreements in 19 regions globally, their make-up, complexity, strength, the extent to which countries engage with them and the presence of integration mechanisms. It considers the implications of these factors for the way that strengthening regional ocean governance may be approached from global and regional perspectives.