Our oceans depend on accountable, inclusive and transparent governance

Photo: Podium of the Blue Justice Conference 2023 in Copenhagen


On the occasion of the Blue Justice Conference 2023 in Copenhagen on 23rd March, IDOS and UNDPs Global Policy Centre for Governance (UNDP OGC) launched a joint study on the impact of good governance on the protection of our ocean.

The main findings in the report show that effective marine and coastal conservation relies on governance institutions that enforce inclusion and participation, uphold accountability and the rule of law, and ensure transparency while controlling corruption and crime.

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.

Photo: IDOS director Prof. Hornidge and Arvin Gadgil at the Blue Justice Conference 2023


The report details that protection efforts without stakeholder engagement, such as marine protected areas, that 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.

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

The report can be downloaded here.


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