Ocean Policy and Governance

International ocean policy and governance developments can have significant impact on business operations in the ocean. Yet more often than not, such processes progress with little or no industry involvement.

The WOC ensures that the Ocean Business Community is well informed and constructively engaged as needed in shaping the ocean regulatory framework for issues of high priority to its Members.


Addressing the needs of Ocean Business Community, the WOC prioritizes present and emerging Ocean Policy and Governance issues for its Members and the Ocean Business Community.  Ocean policies are moving forward rapidly on a range of issues, with long-term implications, risks and opportunities for the Ocean Business Community.

The following Ocean Policy and Governance policies were identified as priorities by the WOC in conjunction with its Members:

  • The UN negotiations on Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Other major ocean policy areas of importance include:

  • The World Ocean Assessment (also known as the UN Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment)
  • The UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea (ICP)

The WOC is actively monitoring, analyzing and reporting for its Members and the Ocean Business Community on the above and other major ocean policy, governance, and decision-making processes and developments.

As appropriate, the WOC catalyzes the input of its Members by coordinating Ocean Business Community involvement in specific processes. This kind of advocacy can include collating and disseminating information on the efforts of responsible ocean industries. This may extend into facilitating coordinated ocean industry input and pulling together position statements.

Considering the breadth of our network and Membership base you may have identified an issue in Ocean Policy & Governance, which you wish the WOC to prioritize. Please contact us here with your suggestion.


The WOC facilitates collaboration among ocean industries and collective engagement of the relevant stakeholders on Ocean Policy and Governance issues affecting the future of the ocean and the Ocean Business Community.

The WOC is working toward the following results through its focus on Ocean Policy and Governance:

  • Active monitoring and analysis of major policy developments for WOC Members.
  • Rapid and effective WOC Member input to critical policy processes.
  • Constructive WOC participation in priority ocean policy and governance developments.

In particular, the WOC is providing a growing level of information and presence for its Members in key policy processes.

The WOC participated in the third annual CBD Conference Of Parties (COP), COP 10 in Nagoya (October, 2010) and COP 11 in Hyderabad (October, 2012) and their preparatory meetings. WOC has been the only entity representing the Ocean Business Community at these extensive discussions on major marine policy issues. The WOC reported on these involvements to its Members by producing a review of major ocean governance and policy processes in relation to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in November 2010.

The WOC organized Oceans, Industry and Rio + 20 events in Canberra in 2012 which brought together the Ocean Business Community to consider business implications of the Rio +20 Marine agenda and to provide input to the UN Conference via the Australian Government delegation and the WOC. For a detailed review of the WOC analysis and industry comments click here.

The WOC issued a comprehensive review of International Ocean Governance in 2014, which discussed key cross sectoral ocean policies, governance processes, bodies, and reporting on business opportunities for the Ocean Business Community.

The WOC is also ensuring the involvement and coordinating the Ocean Business Community’s input in key policy processes.

In particular, the WOC is currently working to engage the Ocean Business Community in the proposed regulation of Seabed Mining as well as in the UN Prepcom working on the development of a new legally binding treaty for the conservation of marine biodiversity on the High Seas. To this end, the WOC, in coordination with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), set up a business coalition, “WOC UNCLOS-BBNJ Coalition: Industry Leadership on Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)”, to provide business and industry with:

1. Information, updates and analysis on the BBNJ/UNCLOS process and developments.

2. A structure, process and vehicle for developing and delivering coordinated private sector information, messages and input into the formal BBNJ intergovernmental process and related processes, e.g. side events, conferences, workshops, working groups.

3. A coordinated process to engage and exchange information with governments, U.N./Intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations (e.g. environment NGOs, science organizations/institutions).

For more documents produced by the WOC on Ocean Policy and Governance, visit the Resources page,

Relevant Events

The WOC sponsored the following events on Ocean Policy and Governance:

2016 – Sustainable Ocean Summit , Rotterdam, Netherlands
– Sessions on “Engaging Industry in High Seas Governance and Sustainable Development”; “Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs): Engaging the Ocean Business Community in Regional Ocean Governance”; and “UN Law of the Sea: New Legally Binding Instrument on Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ)”
2015 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – Ocean Policy and Governance Session, Singapore
2014 – National Business Forum on Ocean Policy and Planning, New York, NY, USA
2013 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – Ocean Policy and Governance Session, Washington DC, USA
2012- SBSTTA side event “Ocean Industry Leadership and Conservation Community Interaction In Addressing Marine Biodiversity Through the CBD”, Montreal, Canada
2011 – CBD 1st Meeting of Global Platform for Business and Biodiversity, Nagoya, Japan
2010 – Sustainable Ocean Summit – International Ocean Policy and the Future of Industry Seminar, Belfast, Northern Ireland.