Accelerating sustainable ocean policy: The dynamics of multiple stakeholder priorities and actions for oceans and human health

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Britton, Easkey
Domegan, Christine
McHugh, Patricia
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The ocean is under increasing pressure from climate change, biodiversity loss, and further degradation through human impacts, resulting in unpredictable, uneven and uncertain outcomes for society including varied risks for human health. This calls for a shift from policies with a local level perspective or narrow focus to ‘ocean policy’ that takes all the marine environments in their totality into consideration, requiring dynamic strategies and adaptive management. Oceans and Human Health (OHH) is emerging as one way to address such complex shifts in a holistic way. This requires new forms of collaboration, participation and joint-action by multiple stakeholders across domains. OHH presents an opportunity for a new way of understanding interrelationships with the ocean, humanising environmental crises. Through a highly participatory process with expert and citizen stakeholders, a meta-analysis of priorities and actions for sustainable ocean policy in Europe are presented. Causal processes that drive ocean and human health dynamics are highlighted and priority themes and actions from stakeholder discussions are presented that provide key insights for policy and decision-making processes. The participatory-based approach presented in this paper can provide the means to make these interdependent processes visible by offering insights to better understand the behaviour of complex systems, such as ocean health and public health. Understanding these dynamic interactions can help accelerate the progress of policy and management that is integrated and adaptive. Findings demonstrate the value for society in building capacity to better understand the current and future synergies and interlinkages between climate change, ocean health and human health and wellbeing.

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Marine Policy

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© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Environmental management

Policy and administration

Political science

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Britton, E; Domegan, C; McHugh, P, Accelerating sustainable ocean policy: The dynamics of multiple stakeholder priorities and actions for oceans and human health, MARINE POLICY, 2021, 124, pp. 104333