On the 26th of January, Ernesto packed his bags and headed north into Canada, to present at the University of Victoria. Working both with the Political Science Department and the Water and Aquatic Sciences Research Program, Ernesto presented on global ocean’s governance and the EU’s position on ocean policy.
The audience was large, with almost as many faculty as students, and members took a considerable interest in the EU’s recent initiative on global ocean’s governance. Ernesto presented the initiative with a special emphasis on the EU’s interest, ability and legitimacy to bring about international governance issues through multilateral cooperation and partnership, something of particular relevance when the world’s most important countries are developing unilateral and/or inward-looking policies. “In this context,” argued Ernesto, “the EU is becoming the world’s main (and almost only) advocate of multilateralism. This makes this kind of initiative more crucial and necessary than ever before.”
The ensuing debate, which continued over dinner with interested faculty, focused on a number of aspects. The EU initiatives on maritime security raised a lot of interest. Operations Atalanta in the Indian Ocean and Sophia in the Mediterranean were hailed as examples of how multilateral cooperation can work even in an area of exclusive member state competence. One area that people seem to very much agree needs multilateral support is regarding the question of plastic pollution. “The need for international cooperation is most obvious,” stated Ernesto on this topic. There is a lot of interest in Canada to explore cooperation with the EU on this matter.
Some questions concerned the opportunities for partnership with European researchers on marine research. Audience members currently conducting research are hopeful that this meeting will lead to future collaborative research.
Finally, the initiative on integrated maritime planning was also considered very interesting, and questions related to whether such initiative would apply only to areas under national jurisdiction or whether that notion could be legally and practically applied to the high seas.
Stay tuned to see more of Ernesto’s trip in Canada, including a talk at the University of British Columbia.