Greetings from the new Deputy Director

This month, I have had the pleasure of taking over the role of the One Ocean Hub’s Deputy Director after being involved with the Hub since its inception in 2018. For those of you who don’t know me, I have been working as a Senior Lecturer within the Environmental and Geographical Science Department at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and have served as the South African Country Co-Director for the Hub.

In my new capacity, I am looking forward to supporting the syntheses and impacts of the Hub’s cross-country and transdisciplinary work across scales, as part of the  Hub’s legacy beyond March 2024 and our contributions to the UN Ocean Decade . As the Hub is now entering its final year, it is more important than ever to pave the way forward and make sure we can continue to promote fair and inclusive decision-making for a healthy ocean whereby people and the planet flourish.

My research within the Hub focuses on knowledge co-production with local communities to enable generative dialogues with decision-makers on the basis of communities’ customary laws, critical perspectives on the blue economy, and the use of arts-based methods. I have mostly collaborated with the Empatheatre team and the Coastal Justice Network to amplify local voices that would otherwise not be heard in decision-making platforms, including at the UN.

I look forward to nurturing existing and developing future collaborations with our ocean friends far and wide in the next few months.

Warm regards,

Dr Philile Mbatha



Read about our achievements and impact – demonstrating progress towards change

September and October were marked by exciting times for the Hub!

The Hub becomes implementing partner of the UN Ocean Decade

We are delighted to announce that in October 2023 the One Ocean Hub has been endorsed as the UN Ocean Implementing Partner. Under this mandate, the Hub will offer a comprehensive methodology for profound understanding of the ocean, upholding inclusive, respectful, and fair ocean research practices across Global North and South through our program entitled “Transdisciplinary Toolbox of Ocean Knowledge Co-Production for Transformative Governance.”

Transformative Ocean Governance article published in Nature Sustainability

The Hub’s Nature Sustainability article “Principles for transformative ocean governance” strategically and critically connects transformative ocean research to transformative ocean governance with a view to responding to the call for “transformative science” under the UN Decade for Ocean Science.

The Hub’s arts-based research collaboration shortlisted at the Times Higher Education Awards

The Hub has been shortlisted in this year’s Times Higher Education Awards (THE Awards) in the ‘International Collaboration of the Year’ category. The nomination celebrates the play ‘Lalela uLwandle’ (Listen to the Sea) developed by Empatheatre and Hub researchers with communities along the KwaZulu-Natal coast in South Africa. The play has offered decision-makers and stakeholders along the coasts of South Africa, and in three international fora, a facilitated discussion on ocean governance and collected testimonies on people’s concerns and hopes for the ocean.

The 19th annual THE Awards, widely known as “the Oscars of higher education” ‘honours universities across the UK and Ireland for their most inspirational and innovative work during the 2021-22 academic year’. The Award ceremony will be held 7 December 2023 in Liverpool and will be attended by the Hub Director and Deputy Director.

Better understanding the negative impacts of international investment law for human rights and the marine environment

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, and the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights have raised the alarm about the negative impacts on the environment and on human rights of foreign investment in offshore energy projects, deep-seabed mining and other blue economy initiatives, relying on evidence provided by the One Ocean Hub and partner International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) on the basis of earlier research on international investment law and blue economies.

Contributing to the 2025 UN Call for Action on Human Rights with a focus on Ocean Defenders

The Hub raised critical questions related to the protection of ocean defenders, in responding to an invitation from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Secretary-General’s Executive Office to contribute to an online forum for the UN system and civil society organisations on 6 September 2023. The forum provided an opportunity to share experience and discuss how the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights can be leveraged to support and enhance strategic engagement on human rights and the environment and strengthened protection for environmental human rights defenders.

Contributing to the UN Ocean Conference’s “A call to all the voices of the ocean”

The preparations for the 2025 UN Ocean Conference that will be held in June 2025 in Nice, France are already underway, and as part of the preparatory process the “A call to all the voices of the ocean” Synthesis Report was published in September 2023, to which the One Ocean Hub was a contributor. The following sections reflect on how the key messages from the Hub written submission were included in the report.

Hub researchers selected as experts of the UN regular process on the marine environment

Hub researchers Dr Senia Febrica (University of Strathclyde, UK), Dr Sebastian Hennige (University of Edinburgh, UK),  Prof Jeremy Hills (University of the South Pacific, Fiji) and Dr Sian Rees (University of Plymouth, UK) have been selected as members of the Pool of Experts of the UN Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects (Regular Process) in October 2023.  The Regular Process is a global mechanism established by States after the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development that is accountable to the UN General Assembly. It aims to regularly review the environmental, economic and social aspects of the state of the world’s oceans to contribute to enhance the scientific basis for policymaking.

GHANA IMPACT STORY: Changing lives through human rights workshops and pop-up legal clinics  

Small-scale fishers are responsible for over 70% of fish landings in Ghana, but they are rarely consulted or included in fisheries decision-making processes at the national or global levels. Over the past four years, the Hub has worked tirelessly to strengthen the human rights of small-scale fishers, including women who work in the sector. Having identified the potential for international human rights law to address these problems, Hub researchers and partners are working to make this legal research actionable. Read more about a series of human rights workshops and pop-up legal aid clinics for women in artisanal fisheries in this impact story. 

Read Impact story here >>

Our latest news and blogs
Breaking barriers around One Health

The Hub was invited to share transferable findings from legal, inter- and trans-disciplinary research on human rights, equity and human/planetary health at an international, invitation-only workshop “Breaking Barriers: Advancing the One Health Agenda with a Focus on Environment” (12-13 October, Berlin, Germany). Hub Director Elisa Morgera was invited to speak at a breakout session on “connecting policy and legal frameworks”, with a view to expanding on her earlier remarks to WHO negotiators of the pandemic treaty (see also here and here).

Connecting science-policy recommendations across ocean research projects: reflection on the South Africa/South Atlantic workshop

Five major ocean research projects, representing over £50 million investment and 400 researchers from over 120 institutes from over 30 countries were brought together to distil shared key messages for policy makers in South Africa. A three-day science-to-policy workshop for marine ecosystem-based management was held at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Cape Town, 22-24 August 2023). This blog post reflects on the key messages arising from the workshop and further synergies within Hub research, the innovative methodology of the workshop, the benefits for early-career researchers, and next steps.

Turning the tide for women in small-scale fisheries in Ghana: Reflections on the gender workshops

The One Ocean Hub organised four workshops for small-scale fisher (SSF) women in the four coastal regions (Central, Volta, Greater Accra and Western) of Ghana between 2021-2023. The workshops were a response to Hub research findings that are discussed in the newly published article by Harrison Golo and Bolanle Erinosho  ‘Tackling the challenges confronting women in the Elmina fishing community of Ghana: A human rights framework’. Published in Marine Policy, the article notes that SSF women are often excluded from governance and decision-making processes, access to fisheries aids and subsidies and are significantly impacted by declining fish stocks. This blog post captures the key highlights of the ‘gender SSF workshops’ organised in Ghana.

Other News...
  • Part 1: One Ocean Hub participates in five panels for the 2023 Summer/Winter School for Human Rights & the Environment Read Here >>
  • Part 2: One Ocean Hub participates in five panels for the 2023 Summer/Winter School for Human Rights & the Environment Read Here >>
  • New learning pathway on the One Ocean Learn platform Read Here >>
Preparing for the 2023 UN Climate Conference (COP28)

This blog post reflects on our engagements with the UN Climate process in preparation for the next UN Climate Conference (30 November–12 December 2023). The following sections cover: the ocean-related developments at the Bonn Climate Conference 5–15 June 2023, including the Hub’s involvement in the Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue held on 13–14 June; a reflection on the Chairs’ report of the 2023 Ocean-Climate Dialogue; and our plans for COP28 in Dubai.

The One Ocean Hub at the Climate COP28

At the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), the Hub is co-organising with Alana, Child Rights International Network, and members of Children’s Rights Climate Coalition a side-event titled “General comment 26 on children’s rights and the environment with a focus on climate change: how can it be game changing at COP decisions with the lens of child rights.” The side-event will highlight how the General Comment No. 26 can help to ensure that all climate decisions safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable, particularly children, and cooperate with language on policy coherence at COP decisions. Early-career researcher Mitchell Lennan will be presenting at the event.

When: 9 December 2023, at 15:00—16:30 (Dubai time)

Venue: SE Room 5, in the Blue Zone of COP28

COP28 Event: Children’s rights to a healthy environment at the ocean-climate nexus

Co-organisers & speakers: One Ocean Hub; Alana; UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Dr David Boyd; Child Rights International Network (tentative); Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (tentative); Child advisors of Terre des hommes (TBC).

When: 9 December 2023, 09:00-10:30 (Dubai time)

Venue: Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet Pavilion, TA 2 – 130 Ground Floor Blue Zone of COP28

The event will explore the transformative role of children’s right to a healthy environment including coastal and marine spaces following the recent adoption of the UN General Comment 26 on children’s human rights and a healthy environment, with a special focus on climate change. It will highlight the importance of children’s right to be heard in ocean governance decision-making fora, the need to facilitate children’s participation in international processes, and the scope of State obligations to ensure respect of children’s rights and interests. The event will bring together representatives of children, civil society, international organisations, and researchers to provide opportunities for intergenerational dialogue on the protection of children’s human rights in the context of changing climate.

Reflecting on opportunities and tensions in academic solidarity practices with environmental human rights defenders

‘How can we expand our imaginations of solidarity in support of human rights defenders?’ this question was posed by keynote speaker Wangui Kimari (Mathare Social Justice Center, Nairobi, Kenya) at the opening of the 2023 annual conference of the Association of Human Rights Institutes under the theme, ‘Human Rights Defenders Under Siege’ (7-9 September 2023, Bilbao, Spain). This question was at the heart of the contributions made at the conference by One Ocean Hub Director Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde, UK), South African Co-Director Taryn Pereira (Rhodes University, South Africa), and Elaine Webster (University of Strathclyde, UK).

Other Blogs...
  • Providing Considerations for the next phase of the Plastics Treaty Negotiators  Read Here >>
  • Celebrating the 2023 International Day of Peace through Contributions of Ocean Governance to the Sustainable Development Goals Read Here >>

Surfacing solidarity praxis in transdisciplinary research for blue justice Publication authored by Pereira T & Erwin K (2023) in Ecosystems and People, 19:1, DOI:
Read publication here >>

A blueprint for integrating scientific approaches and international communities to assess basin-wide ocean ecosystem status Publication authored by Roberts, J.M., Devey, C.W., Biastoch, A. et al. (2023) in Communications Earth & Environment , 4, 12.
Read publication here >>

Smoothed particle hydrodynamics for modelling cold-water coral habitats in changing oceans Publication authored by Georgoulas,K, Hennige, S,  Yeaw CL. (2023)  in Journal of Sea Research, Vol 192, 102358. ISSN 1385-1101.
Read publication here >>

Incorporating dead material in ecosystem assessments and projections Publication authored by Barnhill, K.A., Roberts, J.M., Myers-Smith, I. et al. (2023) in Nature Climate Change. 13, 113–115.
Read publication here >>

Ocean-defending small-scale fishers in South Africa say NO to seismic surveys Publication authored by Pereira, Taryn in Ocean Defenders Project
Read publication here >>

Sophie Shields

Q: What opportunity has the Hub provided you to lead on innovative research? How has the Hub enhanced your leadership skills?

A: Working with the Hub has given me opportunities to work with experts from a range of different disciplines who use a variety of methodologies, to create publications and resources which utilise innovative methods. This has enhanced my leadership skills in communicating my area of expertise to audiences who may be unfamiliar with my area of research, developing my ability to synthesise complex information in an accessible way. I’ve also had the opportunity to present my research and findings to a range of audiences, such as in the 2023 Summer/Winter School on Human Rights and the Environment organised by the UN Environment Programme and the Global Network of Human Rights and the Environment.

PODCAST: Episode 2 - Ocean Climate Nexus and Human Rights
  • 10 key messages for reimagining ocean literacies that consider children’s human rights to development and culture
    Read Here>>
  • The implementation of the WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement should Support the Human Rights of Small-Scale Fishers
    Read Here>>
  • What is Environmental Justice: Understandings from the Global South. 
    Read Here >>
  • Environmental Injustices and Plastic Pollution: an example from South Africa. 
    Read Here >>
  • Winter/Summer school on human rights and the environment panels
    Watch Here >>
  • ITLOS Advisory Opinion on Climate Change webinar
    Watch Here >>
  • SDG14 Life Below Water at “Annual Conference: All Eyes on the SDGs”, Elisa Morgera‘s presentation at 5:26:08
    Watch Here >>

Hub researcher, Dr Lynne Shannon (University of Cape Town, South Africa) is on the Scientific Steering Committee of the 3rd World Biodiversity Forum to be held in Davos, Switzerland, from 16-20 June 2024. The conference theme is “From Science to Action” and we have selected a series of sessions guaranteed to fascinate, enthral and challenge the mind! There are sessions on arts-based approaches, law, alternative knowledge systems, climate-biodiversity, modelling, amongst others, and particular focus on uptake of the action targets proposed under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. Hub research is all highly relevant to the forum theme.

See a full list of events HERE >>