Achieving a Healthy Ocean – Regional Ocean Governance Beyond 2020

The first Marine Regions Forum took place in Berlin (30 September – 2 October 2019), designed as an opportunity for informal exchange between leading scientists, decision-makers and stakeholders. The mission – to catalyse the transformation of ocean governance through regional actions and initiatives – is intended as a step towards developing innovative ocean governance solutions.

Timing was excellent, immediately after publication of the IPCC Special Report on Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, designed to feed into a packed agenda of international meetings in 2020. A series of themed plenary and dialogue sessions provided a platform to critically evaluate progress towards targets, understanding global processes and actions. The Forum blended natural and social science perspectives, highlighting the value of regions to enable cooperation and coordination across territorial and sectoral boundaries. In addition to these strengths, contributors addressed pressing sectoral questions and highlighted governance shortcomings.  

A number of GOBI partners were present at the meeting, with GOBI stalwarts David Johnson (GOBI Coordinator) and Kristina Gjerde (IUCN) taking the stage as panellists during the plenary session on Ocean Governance post-2020: the role of marine regions.

Panellists (L-R) Andreas Papaconstantinou (EC), Kristina Gjerde (IUCN) and David Johnson (GOBI). Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

Scale is a key determinant of regional delivery. Spatial scale as it relates to biogeographic regions and the governance of ocean space and temporal scale of ecosystem functioning and political and management cycles. The Forum demonstrated political will, especially on behalf of Germany, France and the European Commission, and global convening power bring experts together from a diverse set of regions worldwide. An outcome statement is expected to feed into the UN Oceans Conference 2020.

Full reporting of the Marine Regions Forum meeting is available via the IISD website at