[Journals]: Lead Ocean Experts Offer Responses to the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans Blue Ribbon Panel Report

Scholars from multiple disciplines in the natural and social sciences discuss the achievements and deficiencies of the Blue Ribbon Panel report for the Global Partnership for Oceans


Source Contact: Martin D. Smith / marsmith@duke.edu



Recognizing the need for global consensus on the governance of ocean resources, the World Bank created the Global Partnerships for Oceans (GPO) in 2012. This international alliance of governments and organizations in the public and private sector in turn proposed creating a report that would offer clear objectives and recommendations that could guide the GPO’s investment practices. The GPO assembled a panel of twenty-one ocean and fisheries experts from business, government, academic, and conservation backgrounds. Together, the group wrote the Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) report, which was released in October 2013.


In the March 2013 issue of Marine Resource Economics, leading scholars who study the oceans weigh in on the report, offering their thoughts on its significance, accomplishments, and weaknesses. Featuring commentary from experts in environmental economics, environmental politics, fisheries science, physical oceanography, and political economy, this special feature on the BRP report provides useful context and criticism from various disciplinary perspectives.


Joshua Abbott (environmental and resource economics), Liam Campling (political economy), Elizabeth Havice (environmental politics), Rögnvaldur Hannesson (environmental and resource economics), Susan Lozier (physical oceanography), and Michael Wilberg (fisheries science) contribute their thoughts on the report, which are published with an accompanying introduction by former and current Marine Resource Economics head editors James L. Anderson and Martin D. Smith.


The authors commend the GPO for their call for knowledge-creation about ocean issues, but also identify some key gaps in the report. In particular, these scholars find that the BRP lacks the specificity in its policy guidelines to be immediately useful. The authors identify issues that the BRP omitted: the need for large-scale data collection and starting projects that allow learning about governance effectiveness through program evaluation.


The scholars offer mixed opinions about the likely impact of the report on ocean health, governance, and economic development, since there are deep-seated tensions among the GPO partners that the BRP’s general recommendations may not be able to resolve or reconcile. As one of the first high-level documents on the oceans to prioritize human well-being in ocean policy, the BRP report approaches complicated issues with nuance and recognizes necessary tradeoffs across stakeholders. However, without specific guidance, these high-level principles will be difficult to implement as policy. As a collection, this special feature shows what the report has accomplished and what further steps need to be made for the GPO to meet its ambitious objectives.




 “Steering the Global Partnership for Oceans.” Marine Resource Economics 29:1. March 2014.

Marine Resource Economics publishes creative and scholarly economic analyses of a range of issues related to natural resource use in the global marine environment. The scope of the journal includes conceptual and empirical investigations aimed at addressing real-world oceans and coastal policy problems. For more information, please see our website: www.journals.uchicago.edu/MRE.





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