New centre to drive sustainable development of marine and freshwater environments

Fisherman in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

Sailing legend, Dee Caffari MBE, the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions, was the special guest at the launch event.

  • 11 February 2020
  • 2 min read
The University of Portsmouth has launched The Centre for Blue Governance (CBG) – a new research centre that aims to protect and secure the future of the planet's marine and freshwater environments for humans and nature.

The CBG officially opened on Thursday 13 February with a day of workshops, seminars and speeches attended by high-level scientists, policy-makers and leaders from global organisations such as UNESCO, Food and Agricultural Organisation, World Ocean Council, Commonwealth Secretariat.

The event, jointly organised with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), UNESCO, highlighted the importance of blue governance and the priority activities in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021 – 2030).

From the event, a framework will be developed to implement initiatives, strategies and policies that meet the objectives of Decade. It will specifically focus on the challenges faced in developing countries to promote the UN principles of sustainable development.

The scale and importance of aquatic systems impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services and is critical to addressing crucial challenges in climate change, biodiversity loss, and safeguarding human health and well-being.

Professor Pierre Failler, Director of the Centre

Blue Governance’ refers to structures and processes that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad-based participation for the sustainable use of the oceans for people and nature.

The aim of the Centre for Blue Governance is to lead and conduct multi-disciplinary research to inform blue governance policies around the world. It will contribute to the design, setting-up and implementation of blue growth in countries, regions and political entities. It will develop and provide collaborative research expertise at local, national and international levels with a strong emphasis on nature conservation and economic development.

The Centre takes an expansive view of blue activities by considering all aquatic ecosystems including rivers, lakes and wetlands, because of the shared importance marine and freshwater ecological systems.

Pierre Failler, Professor of Economics and Director of the Centre, said: “The scale and importance of aquatic systems impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services and is critical to addressing crucial challenges in climate change, biodiversity loss, and safeguarding human health and well-being.

“However, despite the fundamental importance of these systems, there are large gaps in our conceptual knowledge and practice on how to best govern aquatic environments for the common good. New solutions are urgently needed.”

The Centre will grow the interdisciplinary expertise of current researchers and, critically, students, who will become the new generation of decision makers and leaders of society.

Professor Alex Ford, Deputy Director of the Centre

Alex Ford, Professor of Biology and Deputy Director of the Centre, said: “We are very excited to be able to draw upon the world-leading marine science expertise here at the University, which dates back to the 1940s. The Centre will facilitate collaboration across researchers from natural and social sciences, engineering, technology, economics and law. 

“This is all necessary to tackle new and current research around these are global problems and they all call for multi-disciplinary approaches to governing the world aquatic resources.

“Closer to home, the Centre will grow the interdisciplinary expertise of current researchers and, critically, students, who will become the new generation of decision makers and leaders of society.”

Sailing legend, Dee Caffari MBE, the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions, will be the special guest at the evening launch event. Dee recently led ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ – the first mixed gender youth team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18; with a strong sustainability message.

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