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Developing good ocean governance of the Arctic in times of unpredictable and rapid changes (DOGA)

Alternative title: Hvordan oppnå god havforvaltning av det marine Arktis i en tid med uforutsigbare og raske endringer?

Awarded: NOK 11.1 mill.

Climate change is happening rapidly and is affecting the environment in the Arctic sea areas more than in other sea areas. This opens for new and more intensive human activity, which means that the northern sea areas are under further pressure. The aim of the project is to investigate the capacity of the existing legal framework in providing for sustainable development of the marine Arctic. As part of this, we will investigate how an ecosystem approach (EA) can be implemented within the legal framework without undermining the rule of law. EA has been pointed out as a key strategy for ensuring sustainable management and good ocean governance. The rule of law has a crucial role in good ocean governance. EA is science-based and requires a precautionary and adaptive governance that can respond to new insights on ecosystems and how they are affected. EA also requires that environmental considerations are integrated into the decision-making processes, both within various sectors such as fisheries and shipping, and through tools across the sectors. Effective implementation of EA also necessitates that it is applied across national borders and through cooperation with other states. The rule of law aims to be stabilizing and provide clear and predictable frames for the stakeholders and users. EA, which is knowledge-based, precautionary and adaptive to new knowledge and changes, can therefore be challenging to implement within the legal framework. This is the theme of the project. The core of the analyses is Norwegian policy and regulations. The practical implementation of EA in Norway is also investigated within a regional context, where cooperation between neighboring states and within the Arctic region is emphasized. The project also includes comparative analyzes of EA implementation in Canadian and Russian law and policy. The project is a legal project, which is mainly answered through legal scientific methods.

The vulnerable and sensitive Arctic ecosystems are affected by climate change and by increasing human activities. With rapid changes and uncertainties, there is a need for urgent measures to ensure socio-ecological resilience and good ocean governance. The project therefore investigates the capacity of the existing legal framework in providing for sustainable development of the marine Arctic. The primary objective of the project is to contribute to good governance of the marine Arctic by critically investigating the implementation of EA in Norway. The subsidiary objective is to propose a set of best practices or recommendations that could be applied to foster the implementation of EA in the Arctic region on a general level. The project investigates the ecosystem approach (EA) to ocean governance as a key strategy for sustainable development. The project examines how ecosystem approach can be implemented within the legal framework and provide for adaptive, integrated and holistic management without undermining the rule of law and such core values as accountability, participation, legal certainty and predictability. As the implementation of ecosystem approach hinges on the choices made by individual states, the project predominantly focuses on regulations applicable to and within the Arctic waters under the Norwegian jurisdiction. As the ecosystems of the marine Arctic as well as the effects of human activities are transboundary, the Norwegian law is investigated in the context of global and regional law and policy. Science is a critical component to EA. The project thus investigates how law and science can be integrated to provide for adaptive governance. Furthermore it examines whether and how EA is implemented into the sectors of fisheries, shipping/tourism, hydrocarbons and new activities. Possible mechanisms for implementing EA, as well as the potential of implementing EA across jurisdictions through cooperation with other states, are also assessed.