IUCN and top US University Join Forces to Address Governance of the World’s Oceans

22 September 2009 | News story

As a result of a new partnership between the John Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), students will embark on a concrete study that will evaluate the current governance options for achieving commonly accepted marine conservation goals and a sustainable future for our oceans.

Under the guidance of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme, this “practicum” assignment, carried out by a team of students in the SAIS Energy, Resources and Environment Program, will consider developing a framework for new global agreements; improved implementation of existing agreements; and the development of customary international law on a regional basis. This critical research will provide a useful backbone for future IUCN policy documents and be used as a point of reference for ongoing discussions at the United Nations and in other international fora. Importantly, the work carried out by the students will work towards measurable improvements in the health and resilience of the oceans, including the nearly 50% of the earth that lies beyond national jurisdiction.

“The combination of a lack of understanding in important oceanic features such as seamounts and their interactions with commercial fish species and the existing gap in the high seas marine biodiversity governance poses a major threat to marine species and their habitat,” explains Sarah Gotheil, a Marine Programme Officer for IUCN. “These gaps must be identified and addressed in order to prevent unregulated and unreported activities, overexploitation of marine resources and the destruction of benthic habitats.”

“IUCN is delighted to have the assistance of SAIS in identifying \ocean governance options and helping to develop mechanisms that will improve the conservation and management of the high seas,” says Thomas Laughlin, Deputy Head of the Global Marine Programme.

“We are delighted that IUCN has agreed to mentor our students on such a crucial international issue. Through the union’s extensive network, our students will receive a great insight into the environmental community and gain valuable experience in a consultant role,” says Margel Lindzey Highet Associate Director of the Energy, Resources and Environment Progam at SAIS.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with practical experience in researching, analyzing and presenting findings on a topical environmental issue. Through IUCN’s U.N. permanent observer status, students will also be given an opportunity to attend the United Nations Ad Hoc Working Group deliberations in New York as well as the Global Ocean Forum Meeting in Paris next year.