«Meet The Ocean»: NOVA School of Law at the United Nations Ocean Conference

Given the commitment of NOVA School of Law to SDG 14 to Protect Marine Life, and our focus on the study of issues related to sea governance, we could not fail to be present at the United Nations Ocean Conference, which took place between 27th June and 1st July, at Parque das Nações, in Lisbon.

As such, we were present at the NOVA University Lisbon‘s stand, located under the roof of the Portuguese Pavilion, where, during the event, we had the opportunity to present to visitors our educational courses and research centres devoted to Sea and Ocean affairs.

On June 30th, we promoted a special event, where the undergraduate degree project of NOVA University of Lisbon dedicated to the Ocean was presented to the public for the first time.

The side event «Meet the Ocean Now», involved three different phases: a plenary session and two workshops, each of which promoted the discussion and reflection on issues relating to the Ocean, requiring the participation of professors from different fields, from national and international backgrounds.

Plenary Session

At the plenary session, the Bachelor’s of the Ocean was presented, a degree totally dedicated to the Ocean, which is being prepared by NOVA University Lisbon and the University of the Algarve for 2023 and which involves the following faculties: NOVA School of Law, NOVA SBE, NOVA School of Science and Technology, NOVA FCSH – Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and NOVA IMS – Information Management School; and, from the Algarve, the Faculty of Sciences and Technology and the Faculty of Economics.

To talk about this pioneering degree, which aims to prepare Ocean experts through a broad and holistic approach to the Ocean and its importance for the development of education focused on the Ocean, we had the participation of significant names, such as Isabel Rocha (Vice-Rector of NOVA), Paulo Águas (Rector of UALG), Assunção Cristas (NOVA School of Law), Tiago Pitta e Cunha (Blue Ocean Foundation), Maria Damanaki (former EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries), António Nogueira Leite (Fórum Oceano) and Mário Simões Marques (Portuguese Hydrographic Institute).

For the closing remarks, we had the honour of the participation of José Maria Costa, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs.

The various speakers reinforced the importance of new initiatives such as the Bachelor’s of the Ocean, which aims to fill a gap identified in the academy and to present an innovative approach to multidisciplinary education of the Ocean. Hence, the identification and creation of new opportunities as well as solutions is expected, to face the challenges that lie ahead. Finally, NOVA University of Lisbon and the University of the Algarve were congratulated by all participants for their initiative.

Workshop 1 | «Maritime Spatial Planning: Tool for Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Development»

In the first workshop, Maria Antonieta Cunha e Sá (NOVA School of Business and Economics) moderated the debate, which involved Ingvild Jakobsen (UiT-The Arctic University of Norway – Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea), Renato Rosa (NOVA School of Business and Economics), Lia Vasconcelos (NOVA School of Science and Technology) and Assunção Cristas (NOVA School of Law) around the theme “Maritime spatial planning: tool for sustainable and inclusive economic development”.

With a multidisciplinary view on the subject, involving Professors from different academic backgrounds, the debate focused on the analysis of public policies and how law is an essential tool in the promotion and inclusion of sustainable economic development. Finally, the discussion focused on the role that coastal communities must assume in the process of building public policies.

Workshop 2 | «Coastal Management for Sustainable Development»

In the second workshop, the debate, moderated by Duarte Bué Alves (Consul General of Portugal in Manchester), addressed the theme “Coastal Management for a Sustainable Development” involving the presentations of Maria Madalena das Neves (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway – Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea), Karen Diele (Edinburgh Napier University), Mark Huxham (Edinburgh Napier University) and José Carlos Ferreira (NOVA School of Science and Technology).

In this second workshop, the debate focused on the importance of a biological study of the Ocean and coastal zones for the development of communities and its importance in developing public policies. The discussion also addressed the need to establish greater coordination between law and biology, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

The 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference

It was a great honour to be a part of this United Nations Conference dedicated to the Ocean, which discussed the need for urgent and concrete actions to address the Ocean crisis and which ended with the adoption of a political declaration on Ocean advocacy, which is known as the “Lisbon Declaration”.

The declaration assumes “a dire state of the Ocean” and a “collective failure” to achieve several of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which focuses on marine life, admitting the need for “more ambition to address the dire state of the Ocean” and renewing by more than 150 UN member states the “commitment to take urgent action and to cooperate at the global, regional and sub-regional levels to achieve all the targets as soon as possible and without further delay”.

This is good news for what is the beginning of a new chapter in global action for the Ocean, based on a promise of “transformative change”.