Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is there a democratic crisis in marine governance?

Who is 'competent' or 'very competent' to manage the marine environment?

Graph: Data showing perceived competence of different groups to manage the environment. Scores shown as percentage of responses rating ‘competent or highly competent’ (rating of 4 -5). Note that EU, National and Local refer to government bodies. Sample: UK, Poland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France,

Source: Knowseas: Public perceptions of Europe’s Seas - A Policy Brief. LINK
 The chart points to public concern over the process for managing the marine environment -  and the  opportunity to develop new ways of co-managing marine resources and including public voice in marine decisions. Environmental groups and scientists are perceived as more competent (at 57% and 56%) than government bodies, individuals and industry (max 37%). While on one hand this is a concerning statistic, it points to a change in the way marine governance can work. Governance means more than government, and the inclusion of civil and scientific voices, not only as 'stakeholders' but as co-managers, may be the way forward to improve marine sustainability.

There is clearly a critical role for elected representatives in government and civil departments to continue to administer and support marine management and be viewed as the custodian of the process. But if the views of the community are to be acknowledged, the system needs to advance to include genuine engagement over consultation.