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MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø

OCEAN Sustainability Pathways for Achieving Conflict Transformation - OCEANS PACT

Alternative title: Bæredyktig håndtering av marine konflikter

Awarded: NOK 3.0 mill.

The OCEANS PACT addresses marine conflicts in the light of the visions of blue growth, the UN's sustainability goals and the commitments to create a net zero-emission society. The project is concerned with the increasing industrialization of the world's coastal and ocean areas and the many forms of conflict that are now emerging. OCEANS PACT includes cases from the Baltics, Brazil, India, Norway, South Africa and the USA, and in the project we study and compare conflict types, conflict causes and conflict processes in different institutional and societal contexts. A key question is how conflicts can be transformed and contribute to more sustainable solutions. The Norwegian part of the project focuses on the Barents Sea and the three industries oil and gas, offshore farming and offshore wind. Together with the University of Cape Town, we are also responsible for a work package that looks more closely at conflict background, driving forces and dynamics. During the first year, which has been clearly affected by the corona situation, a lot of time has been spent getting to know each other, gaining a common understanding of the project and clarifying tasks and division of labor. We have held meetings with the project's dialogue forums at both national and international level, we have prepared overviews of the selected cases, we have made conceptual and methodological guidance documents for the key topics of the project, and we have taken the initiative for sessions and contributed to international conferences.

Life on earth depends on healthy oceans, but our oceans are in decline. There is mounting pressure on finite marine resources because of the increasing number of competing activities, technological advances, and over-exploitation, pollution and climate change. Conflicts about how to harness benefits from marine resources are widespread, intensifying and unfolding in unprecedented ways, including both long-standing disputes between activities and new emerging conflicts. Ocean conflicts reflect deep-rooted struggles over ownership, rights, benefits, and human-nature relationships on our Blue Planet. Surprisingly, ocean conflict resolution is an under-developed field of scholarship and practice. OCEANS PACT argues that ocean sustainability prospects depend on building tailor-made capabilities to analyze, productively manage, and where possible transform ocean conflicts. We construct a co-designed, transdisciplinary, action research approach. We aim to develop deep insights about diverse ocean conflicts through real-world collaboration of context-specific research teams that include stakeholder partners, social and natural scientists, and conflict resolution experts. Our comparative analysis focuses on conflicts that traverse the Global North and South, in South Africa, India, Brazil, Norway/Barents Sea, Baltic Sea and United States. We investigate how existing conflict resolution practices help or hinder ocean sustainability. We examine how formal interventions, e.g., law, and informal practices, e.g., negotiation, can be harnessed to unlock the transformative potential of conflict resolution. The new knowledge gained will be used to develop and test ocean conflict resolution tools and practices. OCEANS PACT will generate significant scientific, socio-political and practice benefits in our case studies, and enable scaling up of insights, tools and conflict resolution practices that foster global ocean sustainability.

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Funding scheme:

MARINFORSK-Marine ressurser og miljø