ICES Annual Science Conference 2021

Theme session Q

Making transboundary ocean and coastal governance work – state of the art, problems, and enablers

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Transboundary ocean governance is a complex endeavour involving multiple actors, institutions, epistemologies,​ and spatial and temporal scales. There are various conceptions of ocean governance, as well as a growing range of practical experiences, both of what is and what is not working. This session combines topical conceptual research with practical cases, look​ing to draw out key challenges and enablers for successful transboundary ocean governance. ​

Managing coasts and seas, humanity faces complex socio-environmental problems, reaching across administrative, geographical and time-scales (e.g. resource decline, pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss). It is difficult to address these problems through established institutional frameworks operating within administrative borders. To enable transboundary governance with a broader systems perspective, present concepts and boundaries may need rethinking. 

Transboundary governance implies a complex endeavour with multiple actors working at various geographical and time-scales, across jurisdictions with varying mandates. Over the last decades, some boundary-crossing approaches have been developed, such as integrative coastal and ocean management, ecosystem-based management, and marine spatial planning. These attempt a more integrative coastal and ocean governance: encompassing strategic planning and operational management while addressing both conservation and the blue economy. National and international institutions are also trying to adapt to calls for a more “reflexive governance", implying inclusiveness and learning.

Experiences so far indicate conceptual and practical challenges to transboundary coastal and ocean science and management, but also successful examples. Cross-border and cross-sector collaboration using common principles and objectives along with mutual trust seem crucial.

This session provides a forum to critically discuss the concept, practice, and outcomes of integrative coastal/marine governance in transboundary contexts. It aims to distil key benefits, enablers, needs, and challenges and how these could be addressed. 

Focusing on a more coherent and sustainable governance of coastal and marine areas, we invite theoretical and empirical communications especially along the following lines:

  • Analytical and theoretical perspectives on the lack of conceptual clarity, the institutional barriers and the resulting problems when implementing transboundary governance
  • Addressing the complexities of the land–sea interface in terms of describing the system and developing workable institutional frameworks
  • Important obstacles and enablers for cross-border coordination and collaboration when practicing transboundary governance


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​Con​veners: 
Andrea Morf (Sweden)
Jan van Tatenhove (Denmark)
Kira Gee (Germany)
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Theme session Q

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) · Conseil International pour l'Exploration de la Mer (CIEM)
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