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2005 September Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Appendix A — Lessons learned from international experiences

2005 September Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

September 2005 Report—Chapter 1

Appendix A—Lessons learned from international experiences

The following are lessons learned from our review of modern oceans-management approaches being applied in several jurisdictions. We concentrated most of our effort on the Australian experience because of similarities with Canada. As well, Australia is viewed as the world leader in the development and implementation of a modern oceans-management approach.

Building a strong foundation

  1. Political leadership—A recurring theme is that significant progress in oceans management can potentially be achieved under the leadership of committed and influential political leaders.
  2. Legislative framework—Although specific oceans legislation may not be required, other legislation that supports the envisaged oceans-management approach should already be in place. In Canada we have the Oceans Act; in Australia the major components of oceans environmental protection are brought together under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
  3. Clarity of vision—There needs to be a focus on what is to be achieved and how. What are the specific outcomes expected from the policy? Is the approach to use the "best intentions" of the parties, or does it involve formal commitments?
  4. Clarity of policy—There should be movement toward policy specificity. Those involved in delivery of the policy must know where they fit and what is expected at specific stages. The oceans policy vision should be stated publicly.
  5. Machinery of government—There is no one model that captures where oceans policy should rest within government. However, it should be located where it can have influence across government and be independent from industry sectors and interest groups. Advisory bodies and senior officials' boards can provide strength, visibility, and formality to enhance the potential for successful implementation.
  6. Accountability framework—The approach should clearly set out what is to be achieved, how it will be achieved, the resources to be engaged, and the delegation of responsibility. The means of measurement, evaluation, and reporting should be known.
  7. Cultural change—There is a fundamental expectation that sector industries and government departments will behave differently; that is, they should make decisions that consider the impact on other oceans resource users and the health of the oceans.

Delivering on expectations

  1. Implementation plan—A plan to guide the implementation of an oceans policy is necessary. The plan should incorporate objectives, goals, resource requirements, and timeframes. It should be realistic and achievable.
  2. Risk-based approach—Oceans management is fraught with scientific and management uncertainty. Risk management approaches are necessary to guide where management and scientific resources and effort are best engaged and to what extent.
  3. Best available science—The extent of knowledge that is available will vary from area to area. Knowledge can rest in different institutions and with stakeholders. Mechanisms must be developed to ensure that the best available knowledge, including traditional knowledge, is incorporated into the approach.
  4. Consultation/partnership/engagement—The involvement of communities and stakeholders is vital, but it must be meaningful. Those engaged must understand what the process is designed to achieve and what their role should be. Consultation processes should be open, transparent, and inclusive. Industry sector-based consultation also has a role in gathering specific information.
  5. Spatial selection—Selection of the planning or management area is important. If possible, the area should reflect how the ecosystem functions, while taking into account how social and economic interests relate to it. The appropriate spatial scale for ecosystem planning will often require the inclusion of areas that cross multiple jurisdictions. For example, estuarial, coastal zone, and offshore ocean areas can be interconnected from an ecosystem perspective, but management can be complex due to jurisdictional issues.
  6. Engagement of sector-based departments—Sector-based (for example, fisheries, oil and gas, shipping) departments are not likely to be replaced under modern oceans-management approaches. They hold significant experience and knowledge about specific industries and their stakeholders. They should be drawn into the development and ownership of the oceans policy and the ongoing implementation if the policy is to succeed. Processes to achieve this engagement have to be meaningful without requiring inordinate amounts of time.

Learning from doing

  1. Adaptive learning—As integrated oceans-management approaches are just being developed, government must adapt and change as it finds out what works and what does not. However, adaptation must be done within an overall agreed approach and should be, as much as possible, informed and information-based. This requires ongoing monitoring and lessons-learned processes.
  2. Public reporting—Public reporting should be a part of the accountability framework. State-of-the-oceans reporting should provide a periodic (for example, five to ten years) assessment of the health of ocean ecosystems, communities, and industries that decision makers and the public can use.
  3. Review/reflection—Periodic reviews of the oceans policy and its implementation can be beneficial. For example, the 2002 independent review of the Australian policy played a role in recent changes and improvements in the implementation of the policy.
  4. Public education and engagement—Taking ownership of the oceans policy and the need to inspire stewardship by communities, citizens, and stakeholders is paramount to its success.
  5. Demonstrable benefits—To gain the involvement of stakeholders, governments, and others there should be demonstrable benefits. For example, we observed that visual communication of information (for example, oceans-use information displayed on multi-dimensional, sea-bed maps) is useful to begin the engagement of government departments and stakeholders.
  6. Conception to maturity takes time—The best example is the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem in Australian waters, managed by the Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which has developed a mature plan for the integrated management of this large coastal/ocean area. It has taken over 30 years to reach this point.