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

Adaptive Management Framework

Pre-planning and Cross-cutting Elements

Set Goals and Objectives


Assessment of the Status Quo

Financial Support

Legal and Governance Frameworks

Management Plan Development

Monitoring and Evaluation


Implementation and Enforcement

Planning Cycle and Enabling Conditions

Source: adapted from UNEP-WCMC (2019).

Figure 7. Adaptive management framework for EB-IOM. This figure illustrates the main elements of the adaptive management cycle in EB-IOM. The top part of the figure indicates pre-plan- ning and cross-cutting elements, the most important of which are to set clear goals and objectives, and the five forms of integra- tion discussed previously (governance integration, stakeholder integration, knowledge integration, transboundary integration, and integration of system dynamics). The management cycle itself has four stages. The first is to assess the status quo of the socio-eco- logical system in the planning region, to identify shortfalls in wellbeing and overshoots over local or planetary ecosystem boundaries, and to compare the status quo to the desired goals and objectives. The second is to develop a management plan that details the measures needed to achieve the goals and objectives of the process, safeguarding the social foundation and ecological ceiling of the socio-ecological system in question. The third is to implement and enforce these measures, and the fourth is to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness, and adapt them as needed in an ongoing and iterative process. These four stages of adaptive management are embedded in enabling conditions that underpin the actions of each stage, with the legal and governance framework represented on one side, and the resources needed for effective management on the other. These include adequate financial support (which needs to be sustained over the long term to allow continuous adaptation through ongoing iterations of the cycle), and capacity. The latter refers to the capacity of individuals, organisations, and networks of organisations to act strategically and effectively, and covers aspects ranging from technical skills and competencies to appropriate materials, equipment, and infrastructure for each actor to fulfil their role.

However, EB-IOM actions are embedded in dynamic and complex socio-ecological systems, which can make it difficult to formulate SMART outcome objectives, since the knock-on effects of management measures cannot always be pre- dicted. Such highly specific objectives are also not a suitable way to accurately measure or assess system-level outcomes, because attempting to develop SMART objectives for an entire ecosystem quickly becomes unwieldy. The attempt to man- age MPAs in Europe against many specific ecologi- cal targets, for example, has generated a lot of sci- entific and administrative work that adds little value in terms of tangible ecosystem benefits (Solandt et

al. 2020), and a recent attempt to evaluate the eco- logical status of the Mediterranean Sea against spe- cific indicators generated a report over 500 pages in length (UNEP MAP 2017). Ocean managers should therefore differentiate between a more diverse range of objectives that serve different purposes. One well-established approach that can be drawn from is results-based management (Global Affairs Canada 2016), in which objectives, goals and targets of different degrees of specificity and measurability are formulated for dif- ferent steps along a results chain (box 7 illustrates what this might look like for an ocean management


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