Recommendations for mainstreaming equity and justice in ocean organizations, policies and practice

Addressing equity and justice issues has become a central concern of ocean policy and sustainability efforts. Yet, many ocean-focused governmental, non-governmental and funding organizations often lack the foundational knowledge, mandate, capacity, and diversity to be able to adequately account for and address equity and justice issues.

In a new opinion editorial, I provide six recommendations for how marine conservation and development organizations can establish a strong internal foundation for mainstreaming equity and justice issues in external marine policies, practices, programs and portfolios. These recommendations include the following:

  1. Develop awareness of past equity and justice issues in marine policy spheres where the organization works.
  2. Explore how equity and justice are defined and can be operationalized in marine policy and practice (see Figure 1).
  3. Mainstream equity and justice in organizational policies, practices, programs, and portfolios.
  4. Increase organizational human dimensions capacity and ability to think socially.
  5. Support marine social science research and engage with evidence regarding the human dimensions.
  6. Commit to internal organizational equity, diversity and inclusion as a foundation for external equity and justice work. 

Creating strong organizational foundations is an important starting place and enabler for advancing equity and justice in the ocean. Read the editorial here.

Figure 1 – What is ocean equity?

Reference: Bennett, N.J. (2022). Mainstreaming Equity and Justice in the Ocean. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2022.873572/full

Webinar Recording – Equity and Justice in the Ocean

If you missed my recent talk on “Equity and Justice in the Ocean” hosted by the Marine Social Science Network, you can watch a recording here.

The oceans are experiencing a rapid acceleration of both conservation and development activities. When poorly implemented or left unchecked, these activities can lead to environmental and social injustices for the coastal communities and populations who inhabit and rely on the ocean for livelihoods, food security, and cultural survival. In this talk, I examine the types of social injustices that are occurring in the ocean, discuss how social equity can be taken into account in efforts to promote ocean sustainability, and explore priority areas for future marine social science research on equity and justice in the oceans. My aim is to encourage greater engagement with equity and justice considerations in all ocean-focused organizations and in all decision-making processes related to ocean governance and management.

This talk will draw from and build on a number of recent papers related to these topics:
• Bennett, N. J. (2018). Navigating a just and inclusive path towards sustainable oceans. Marine Policy, 97, 139–146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2018.06.001
• Bennett, N. J et al. (2019). Just Transformations to Sustainability. Sustainability, 11(14), 3881. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143881
• Bennett, N. J. et al. (2019). Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy. Nature Sustainability. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0404-1
• Bennett, N. J. et al. (2021). Advancing Social Equity in and Through Marine Conservation. Frontiers in Marine Science. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.711538
•Bennett, N. J. et al. (2021). Blue growth and blue justice: Ten risks and solutions for the ocean economy. Marine Policy, 125, 104387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.104387