Social License to Operate and the Blue Economy

“Social license to operate” is fundamental to all ocean industries and the Blue Economy overall. This new report by WOC, ANCORS and Wageningen University provides a strategic, cross-sectoral and systematic assessment of the challenges and opportunities for industry in addressing social license in ocean economic activity. Click here to access the WOC report.

“Social license to operate” – obtaining and maintaining social acceptability and access to ocean space and resources for commercial activities – is essential to the continued responsible operations of all ocean industries. The World Ocean Council (WOC) and the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) and the Environmental Policy Group of Wageningen University are working to understand what social license to operate means in practical terms for the industries that make up the Blue Economy.

The WOC, ANCORS and Wageningen University organized an ocean industry workshop on social license at the Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS) in 2017. The outcomes of the workshop have been collated into a report by Dr Michelle Voyer of ANCORS and Professor Judith van Leeuwen of Wageningen University as part of their broader research on the Blue Economy.

The report highlights that social license is experienced differently across the various ocean economy sectors and that the loss of social license in one sector may have ramifications for other ocean users and the broader Blue Economy concept. Although social license challenges may be different across sectors, there are likely to be significant benefits in sharing lessons learnt – including innovative approaches to building community trust and support.

The WOC will continue to facilitate industry engagement on the critical issue of “social license to operate” and what it means for companies seeking to operationalize “Corporate Ocean Responsibility” and ocean sustainable development.

This will be the focus of a special workshop at the SOS 2019, Paris, 20-22 November on “Social License, Blue Economy and Investing in Ocean Futures”.

Parties interested in working with WOC, ANCORS and Wageningen University on the SOS 2019 workshop are invited to contact