in-person event in lisbon: The future and ocean WE (ALL) want: Inclusion and integration for strong, sustainable and equitable blue economies  

In person event in Lisbon

When: 28th June 2022, 13:00-15:00 Lisbon Time (12:00-14:00 GMT)

Venue: Alfama room, Tivoli Oriente Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal (across the street from the Conference Blue Zone)

Advancing inclusive, sustainable and equitable blue economies at the UN Ocean Conference

Side-event report

The side-event titled ‘The future and ocean WE (ALL) want: Inclusion and integration for strong, sustainable and equitable blue economies’ was organised on 28th June 2022 at Trivoli Oriente Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal. It was co-organised by the One Ocean Hub (University of Strathclyde, UK), the Government of Solomon Islands, the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, WWF Accelerating Coastal Community Led Conservation Initiative, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Danish Institute for Human Rights, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and the Nippon Foundation – University of Edinburgh “Ocean Voices” Programme and Ocean Nexus Center. The event was solution-focused, providing examples of innovative partnerships based on transdisciplinary research approaches to co-produce ocean knowledge among Indigenous peoples, small-scale fishing communities, researchers, civil society, governments and international organisations and thereby co-develop solutions towards sustainable, and inclusive and human rights-based ocean-based economies. This report is aimed to summarises key messages from panellists during the event.

The event started with the projection of a short film produced by the One Ocean Hub titled Ocean and Women, which gives voice to Ghanaian women fishers on their challenges in engaging with the blue economy, the importance to improve the protection of the women’s human rights in small-scale fisheries to enhance the accountability of the government and businesses, for example mining and large-scale industrial fishing companies. Although blue economy initiatives are often well intended, the film shows that some initiatives can have negative consequences on coastal communities. The event continued with roundtable discussion on the human rights issues surfacing as blue economy developments expand at scale.

A roundtable discussion was chaired by Dr Bernadette Snow, Deputy Director of One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde to address the following pressing questions surrounding the implementation of blue economies policies and legislative decisions: As national governments of Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) and Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) and different international actors engage with the blue economy, what actions are being taken to support economic growth and respond to societal needs, whilst ensuring appropriate stewardship of the ocean for future generations? And who stands to benefit or be disadvantaged from such initiatives?The roundtable sought to contribute to the UN Ocean Conference thematic focus ‘Promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, in particular for small island developing States and least developed countries’, highlighting approaches of different international and national actors, whilst sharing One Ocean Hub’s and partners’ research outputs demonstrating the trade-offs and inequities surfaced as blue economies develop rapidly and at scale.

This event presented a unique opportunity to explore the values, challenges and processes of adopting transdisciplinary ocean research to ensure respect and inclusivity for the needs, knowledge and human rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Transdisciplinary research implies working with stakeholders and human rights-holders, ocean experts from varied disciplines, and different knowledge holders in the co-design and co-production of solution-oriented research. It requires an intricate process to develop trust and shared approaches that can stimulate and empower fair partnerships for scaling up ocean solutions. It began with screening of the five-minute film. The ensuing discussion aimed to distil relevant lessons learnt in building innovative approaches to inclusivity, human rights protection and non-discrimination in sustainable ocean-based economies.

Professor Elisa Morgera, Director of One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde underscored that fair partnerships to co-develop sustainable ocean-based economies, need to integrate: a human rights-based approach; arts-based participatory research, and the integration of ocean science (including a standard framework on deep-sea ecosystem services) with historical analysis and environmental justice research. She then noted how these partnerships can:

  • empower human rights-holders to inform decisions on sustainable ocean-based economies based on their values and knowledge systems;
  • integrate evidence from marine and social sciences, and different knowledge systems, to understand equity and sustainability issues;
  • clarify standards and co-develop transformative participatory processes;
  • support policy coherence (SDG 17.14) by co-identifying solutions to multiple international obligations (ocean, biodiversity, climate change);
  • clarify minimum protection for indigenous peoples, small-scale fishers, women, children; and take a programmatic and capacity-building approach to assessments, planning and budgeting.

Professor Morgera called for innovative finance (including climate finance) for replicating and scaling up “ocean research for development” to support  fair and transformative partnerships between coastal communities, researchers and civil society, which builds capacities of all involved and leads to locally grounded and  sustainable blue economies.

Ms Lysa Wini, Government of Solomon Islands and PhD researcher under the One Ocean Hub, shared a parallel perspective on conceptual tools that are unknown such as blue economy to indigenous people of Solomon Islands. She stressed the importance of engaging diverse indigenous experiences and their cultural values into a blue economy framework that is inclusive.

Ms Maria Honig, WWF, introducedthe WWF Accelerating Coastal Community Led Conservation Initiative and scaling up gender-inclusive blue economy. She explained how partnerships, for example between the organisations involved in co-organising this event, can scale up models that support a real transformation towards protecting and restoring ocean health that are inclusive of and enabling for coastal communities.

Ms Beth Button, Director of Strategic Communications at the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), shared insights and learnings from its work with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the University of the West Indies to establish a Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy. Drawing on the academic expertise of its 500+ members, many from island states on the frontline of climate change, the ACU shared how the Centre of Excellence is facilitating transdisciplinary research and bringing together communities, industry and governments to develop new partnerships and the translation of research-led solutions beyond the Caribbean. Ms Button underscored the importance of equitable partnerships; capacity building for staff, researchers, and students to contribute to policy dialogue; and participatory action research that engage users and communities at the heart of the ACU work in the Caribbean and beyond.

Ms Tulika Bansal, the Danish Institute for Human Rights,shared the following key findings from a recent sector-wide assessment  of Chile’s salmon industry on  the human right impacts on workers, communities, including indigenous and small-scale fishers, and other rights-holders:

  • Independent research is lacking on human rights impacts of businesses in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors;
  • Existing research tends to focus on environmental impacts, less on social and human rights dimensions;
  • Interdisciplinary teams are lacking to assess human rights closely from environmental, social and health disciplines;
  • There is lack of expertise on human rights by those working in the sectors, both states and companies, but also auditors (e.g. in certification).

She concluded that there is a pressing need to enhance research and collaboration to better assess, document and most importantly, address the human rights impacts in fisheries and aquaculture.

Ms Nicole Franz, FAO, shared data on the participation of women in small-scale fisheries, from a recent study called Illuminated Hidden Harvest that FAO carried out together with Duke University and World Fish in 58 countries. She also brought our attention to the role of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication as an instrument to strengthen the rights of women in small-scale fisheries. According to Ms Franz, the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA) 2022 provides an ideal platform to draw attention to gender equity issues in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, to strengthen the science-policy interface around this subject and empower stakeholders to take action and build new and stronger partnerships. Pillar 5 of the IYAFA Global Action Plan is titled, ‘Gender Equality and Equity’. The main objective of this pillar is to recognise the essential role that women play in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, and the deep-seated challenges they face, which are crucial to build gender-sensitive management approaches, allowing and encouraging women to lead throughout value chains. The FAO is working with the One Ocean Hub in the context of IYAFA in co-developing various briefs, events, workshops, and e-learning tools that will contribute to empower women to rely on their rights, including human rights, and to put pressure in duty bearers to fulfil their responsibility towards women’s rights in the small-scale fisheries sector.

Dr. Harriet Harden-Davies, Nippon Foundation – University of Edinburgh, “Ocean Voices” Programme and Ocean Nexus Center, explained Ocean Nexus’ mission to transform ocean governance to tackle systemic inequities. Dr Harden-Davies noted that one of the key challenges to improving equity is that metrics used to evaluate sustainable development initiatives can mask, or even perpetuate, inequities. Ocean Nexus is proposing Procedural Key Performance Indicators as a way to assess how ocean initiatives and policies address systemic issues at the heart of social inequity and inequality. This framework offers a way to bring together different research on sustainable development initiatives with an equity lens (recognise, recover and reverse). As an example, Dr Harden-Davies highlighted that recent studies have concluded that the contribution of ocean science to sustainable development is determined by people, power and politics – and that it is crucial to centre equity in capacity building conversations. The Ocean Voices Action under the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development was developed to advance equity in the Decade. The Ocean Voices Programme and Ocean Nexus are supporting the recently launched ‘Declaration for the enhancement of scientific knowledge, research capacity and transfer marine technology to SIDS’ through a new partnership in a SIDS Ocean Science Policy Pilot Initiative.

In conclusion, the roundtable focus on transdisciplinary research spoke directly to the UN Decade of Ocean Science’s aim to stimulate and empower interdisciplinary ocean research (notably across law, policy, economics, social and marine sciences, and arts) and co-develop solutions at the ocean science-policy interface.

Chair: Dr Bernadette Snow, Deputy Director of One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde.


Professor Elisa Morgera, Director of One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde

Ms Lysa Wini, representative of the Nia Tero Foundation

Ms Maria Honig, WWF Accelerating Coastal Community Led Conservation Initiative

Ms Beth Button, Director of Strategic Communications at the Association of Commonwealth Universities

Dr. Harriet Harden-Davies, Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus

Ms Nicole Franz, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Ms Tulika Bansal, Danish Institute for Human Rights

This event is supported by

  • University of Strathclyde
  • Government of Solomon Islands
  • Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner
  • Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center
  • World Wide Fund for Nature
  • Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • Danish Institute for Human Rights
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Tivoli oriente hotel is five minutes walk away from the main conference centre.