This week I am attending the Economist’s World Ocean Summit. It’s applaudable that the event this year is open and free. Summits such as these are increasingly important in ocean governance.
Judged by the agenda we are looking at a blend of deep crisis rhetoric and what Evgeny Morozov nicely coined as “solutionism”: The idea that the internet, big data, surveillance and innovative financing will fix the ocean’s problems. While some high level politicians will give grand speeches at the event, the tone is, that private solutions are required. It is foundation money and start ups that are meant to address the problems featured: fishing, plastic and zero emissions.
Yet, what is the role of the state in all of this? Law, law enforcement, blue crime and maritime security do not feature in the debate. Ocean governance will only work, if industry, foundations and the state work hand in hand. Wasn’t that one of the lessons of the pandemic after all?