Ecosystem-Based Integrated Ocean Management: A Framework for Sustainable Ocean Economy Development

2017). While the period of global economic growth over the past half century has undeniably coin- cided with the creation of unprecedented levels of wealth and the lifting of millions out of poverty, increasing life expectancies and greatly expanding access to nutrition, sanitation, healthcare, educa- tion, and consumer goods around the globe, these achievements have not been spread fairly (millions still live in extreme poverty). Furthermore, these achievements have come at extreme environmen- tal cost: the same period has witnessed unprece- dented deterioration of the earth’s natural systems. Several critical planetary boundaries are now being breached (Steffen et al. 2015), leaving us facing the existential threats of climate breakdown and mass biodiversity extinction. We have left the Holocene and entered the Anthropocene (Waters et al. 2016). Sustainable development urgently requires us to re-frame and re-design our economies, including our ocean economies. Nevertheless, economic growth continues to be a central political goal that is shaping the research and the policies that are driving the development of ocean economies around the world. For example, blue growth has been anchored in European Union (EU) policy since 2012 (European Commission 2017, European Commission 2019), as well as in global ocean pol- icy (FAO 2014, FAO 2015, FAO 2016). EU research funding focused on blue growth has recently given rise to academic literature that goes as far as re-casting integrated ocean management and related concepts (such as MSP) mainly as vehi- cles for economic growth (Depellegrin et al. 2019, Klinger et al. 2018, Lillebø et al. 2017). Klinger et al. (2018), for example, frame integrated ocean management as a way to reduce user-user con- flicts, capitalize on synergies between compatible economic activities, maximize efficient economic use of marine space and pursue opportunities for growth. The environment is described as an eco- nomic resource, and environmental degradation as “suboptimal natural resource use”. This fram- ing is starkly different from that of most ecosys- tem-based ocean management literature (cited throughout this report), in which integrated man- agement concepts are conceived and framed pri- marily as approaches for safeguarding the environ- ment and ensuring human wellbeing within safe ecological limits. What emerges is a disconnect between two pre- dominating narratives concerning what the main objectives of integrated ocean management should be, which go hand in hand with different narratives of what the ocean economy should be for . On the one hand, there is a “blue growth” narrative centred on growth as a driver of prosper- ity and a measure of economic success. On the

other hand, there is an ecosystem-based narrative centred on a healthy environment. This emerging tension effectively pitches growth against nature conservation as competing central objectives, and attempts to bridge this tension by promoting “win- wins” for growth and the environment have been questioned (Chaigneau & Brown 2016). Mean- while, it has been argued that the social sphere of sustainability has been receiving altogether insuf- ficient attention in ocean management (Bennett 2019a, Bennett 2018). It is therefore time to re-frame what a sustainable ocean economy should be, and to formulate a holistic range of strategic objectives that it should pursue. There are emerging new economic par- adigms that can support this process, shifting the focus away from growth as a central objective in favour of a plurality of environmental, social, and human wellbeing objectives. The central aim of these new paradigms is to achieve a fair distribu- tion of human wellbeing within ecosystem bound- aries (Felber 2015, Raworth 2017, Rockström et al. 2009a, Rockström et al. 2009b). Rockström et al. (2009a, 2009b) articulated this as the need for a “safe operating space for human- ity”, bounded on one side by social and wellbeing benchmarks below which no human should fall and on the other side by environmental bounda- ries that cannot be transgressed. Raworth (2017) describes this as “a safe and just space for human- ity”, using the visual metaphor of a doughnut with a hole at the centre: the outer edge of the doughnut represents the ecosystem ceiling, i.e. the planetary boundaries that the economy cannot overshoot, while the inner edge represents the social foun- dation, i.e. the wellbeing objectives that must be achieved to prevent people from falling into the hole (Figure 4).


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