Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

People and the Ocean

The central objective of the People and the Ocean SG is to promote the need to understand and integrate the voices, visions, rights, and livelihood needs of coastal peoples and island nations into policies and practices related to the conservation and management of the oceans.
Dhows in Socotra Islands.

Chair - Nathan Bennett






Indigenous people, coastal communities, small-scale fishers and island nations are intimately connected to, depend on and claim resources and territories in much of the world’s oceans and coastal environment. The aim of the People and the Ocean Specialist Group is to bring a marine focus to the work of IUCN CEESP. In particular, this marine-focused specialist group cuts across the Themes of CEESP, such as the Governance, Equity and Rights, Human Well-being and Livelihoods, Gender, Indigenous People’s, and Business, Best Practice and Accountability Thematic Groups. 

The work of the People and the Oceans Specialist Group connects to the various marine programs situated within the IUCN, including the Marine and Polar Program and the Marine Theme of the World Commission on Protected area, and liaises with IUCN member organizations that are engaged in ocean conservation, management and development issues. 

Dr. Nathan Bennett (web: is currently a Research Associate at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and with the FishMPABlue2 Project at the Université Côte d’Azur (France). In addition, Dr. Bennett is affiliated with the Center for Ocean Solutions (Stanford), the OceanCanada Partnership, the Community Conservation Research Network, and the Too Big To Ignore Project and has consulted for various organizations such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy (Mexico), and the UN FAO. Having graduated from the University of Victoria with a PhD in Human-Environment Geography in 2013, Dr. Bennett’s research interests broadly focus on the interactions between humans and the environment. He has published more than 50 papers on topics related to the human dimensions of conservation, marine protected areas, small-scale fisheries, community development, adaptation to global environmental change, and ocean governance from research in North America, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Europe. He is also an active member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Chair of the Oceans and People Specialist Group of the Commission on Ecological, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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