Regional Ocean Councils

The World Ocean Council is fostering the development of regional ocean business councils to engage Members’ input to regional policy processes, science efforts, and the development of solutions to operational and technical issues at the regional level. Important efforts from governments, inter-governmental agencies and NGOs are underway to address marine environmental concerns in high priority geographic areas, such as the Artic, Mediterranean, West Indian Ocean and West Africa. Engaging the Ocean Business Community is paramount for the success of these initiatives and to ensure responsible, well-managed economic activities are part of the future of the regional seas.

High Priority Geographic Areas

Considering the increased economic use and exploration of the ocean it is paramount that the Ocean Business Community collaborates in ensuring that industry operations are safe and responsible and emerging marine environmental concerns are addressed.

A number of geographic areas have emerged as priority zones: the Arctic, Mediterranean, West Indian Ocean and West Africa. However areas of high priority continue to emerge, such as the Coral Triangle in South East Asia, which the WOC actively monitors and reports on to its Members and the Ocean Business Community.


Prior to the formation of the WOC, the Ocean Business Community had not been engaged in many of the processes related to marine environmental and sustainable development concerns in some of these areas, notably the Arctic. The WOC is fostering systematic and comprehensive involvement of an informed Ocean Business Community at the regional level and ensures that industry operations are safe and responsible and emerging marine environmental concerns be addressed.

Considering the business opportunities for its Members and the wider Ocean Business Community, the WOC is securing industry input to engage governmental, inter-governmental agencies and NGOs efforts in addressing marine environmental concerns in areas of high priority. In particular, the WOC is working towards the following results through its Regional Ocean Business Leadership focus:

  • Increased Ocean Business Community inputs to, and participation in, specific regional processes ensuring balanced ocean management in areas of high priority.
  • Regional business councils addressing ocean sustainable development in high priority areas.


The Artic Business Council

In 2011-12, the WOC developed a close working relationship with the Chair of the Arctic Council and was invited to bring a delegation of high-level representatives of companies operating in the Arctic to meet with the Chair. As a result, the WOC was subsequently requested by the Chair of the Arctic Council to develop the first-ever “Business Dialogue” with the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) in Reykjavik on 16-17 September, 2012 as outlined in the following report.

Through these efforts, the WOC has begun the development of a circumpolar, multi-industry business network to help lead the way to responsible and sustainable development of Arctic areas and resources. The WOC efforts to initiate an Arctic Business Leadership Council have been credited with being a significant trigger for the Arctic Council’s creation of the Arctic Economic Council.

The WOC’s Arctic efforts in the near term are focused on the priorities identified in the 2012 Reykjavik workshop, notably improving and expanding the role of the industry in collecting and sharing ocean weather and climate data in the region (as a regional project of the WOC Smart Ocean-Smart Industries program).

Following the Reykjavik workshop, the WOC subsequently had a productive, well-attended Arctic session at the Sustainable Ocean Summit in April 2013 to continue developing the WOC-coordinated Arctic Business Leadership Council and the WOC Arctic working group. Since then, President Grimsson of Iceland and the other organizers of the Arctic Circle have invited the WOC to engage the Ocean Business Community in the Arctic Circle Assembly and lead the development of the business community aspects of the Arctic Circle Assembly when it is convened each October in Iceland. The WOC was the Conference Chair of the Arctic Exchange in Stockholm in September 2014 and participated in the Arctic Council’s Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Trondheim, in December 2015.

The WOC is also developing a working relationship with the US Navy and US Coast Guard regarding industry activities in the region. The WOC was invited to speak and represent the Ocean Business Community at the Arctic Observations Summit (Vancouver, April 2013).The WOC was the only industry group invited by the US Navy and Coast Guard to their joint Arctic Strategy Symposium in 2014. The WOC was also asked to identify oil and gas and shipping industry representatives to participate in the symposium.

The WOC was a Supporting Partner of the “ShipArc 2015” conference, in Malmö, Sweden, 25-27 August 2015.

Other Regions

Specific developments have created momentum and opportunities for other regions.

In the Mediterranean there is interest in improving port reception facilities and a need for a cross-sectoral business leadership group to coordinate this.

In West Africa, the UNEP Regional Seas Program and the Benguela Current Commission have approached the WOC about developing a regional ocean business group to engage with the governments and other ocean stakeholders in their region.

The WOC has issued a number of documents on Regional Ocean Business Leadership reporting in particular on the progress and the business opportunities in the Arctic. For more documents produced through the WOC Arctic, visit the Resources page.

Relevant Events

The WOC sponsored the following events on Regional Ocean Business Leadership:

2015 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – SE Asia and Coral Reefs, Arctic Business Leadership and Collaboration for Responsible Development, Singapore
2014 – Arctic Shipping Forum- Smart Ocean/ Smart Industries: Arctic Ocean and climate data collection from vessels, Helsinki, Finland; Economist Arctic Summit, London, UK.
2013 – Sustainable Ocean Summit– The Arctic: Challenges and opportunities for responsible industries, Washington DC, USA
2012 – Arctic Business Leadership Council/ Business Dialogue Meeting, Reykjavik, Iceland.
2010 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – Arctic Marine Ecosystem Challenges and Opportunities, Belfast, Northern Ireland