26 January 2018
The role of knowledge networks in nurturing cross-scale transformations at the frontlines of ocean sustainability
Gerhardinger, Leopoldo, Philipp Gorris, Leandra Goncalves, Dannieli Firme Herbst, Daniele Vila-Nova, Fabiano Grecco de Carvalho, Marion Glaser, Ruben Zondervan, Bruce Glavovic. 2017. Healing the Blue Amazon: The role of knowledge networks in nurturing cross-scale transformations at the frontlines of ocean sustainability. Frontiers in Marine Science, Vol. 4: 395
- The Anthropocene compels unlocking of ocean-related network capabilities.
- Orchestration of local, regional, and global knowledge networks can augment transformative capacity.
- Transdisciplinary network diagnostics are promising social learning tools.
- Strategic advice for transformational research in ocean territories are provided.
This paper dedicates to understanding of what is needed to achieve the transformation of ocean governance. Based on the theory of transformative agency conceptualized in a multi-level governance context, we build on recent novel inter- and transdisciplinary research in Brazil to explore the opportunities for transformation in the dynamic, complex, and multi-level field of ocean governance. We focus this analysis on three transformation processes toward developing a socially and ecologically coherent marine protected area network as the core of a marine spatial planning process for enhanced ecosystem-based polycentric governance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The findings illuminate leverage points for achieving (much needed) transformation in Brazilian ocean governance and potentially beyond. These include: connecting transformative actions into coherent narratives and testing strategic advice derived from theories of transformative agency to promote regime shifts in ocean governance systems; setting of more ambitious social mobilization targets; fostering orchestration of knowledge-networks considering multiple issues, territorial and institutional levels; implementing institutional learning experiments; supporting transformational trajectories toward co-evolutionary, polycentric, ecosystem- and area-based ocean governance systems; and pursuing gradual, incremental structural understanding of a given knowledge network field as a major driver of catalyzing transformative change. Hereby, this article advances understanding of how to better navigate the transformation toward enhanced sustainability in an important part of the Atlantic and hence of our global ocean.