The regulatory framework, both hard and soft law, is moving with great strides towards an increasingly accurate set of laws and other normative acts with the aim to promote the application of the basic principles of sustainability policies. The 2023 Monaco Ocean Week addressed the issue for the first time with a dedicated panel, the Ocean Conservation Legal Roundtable, held at the Yacht Club de Monaco on the 24th March 2023. By the will of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the event debated about crucial legal aspects linked to the blue economy to guarantee a fair exploitation, conservation and regeneration of the marine environment. The link between private and public law as well as between domestic and international law was the key topic of the debate centred on Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea, that is the international corpus juris which regulates both the territorial sea and the international waters.
«The need for an open and holistic dialogue is at the heart of this first edition of the Ocean Conservation Legal Roundtable and it will have the opportunity to benefit from complementary perspectives», Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Olivier Wenden, Vice-President and CEO of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, pointed out in his opening speech: «(...) The need for an open and holistic dialogue is at the heart of this first edition of the Ocean Conservation Legal Roundtable and it will have the opportunity to benefit from complementary perspectives, associating public law and private law, and taking into consideration extremely diverse frameworks and realities. Notably, from international treaties to the customs of indigenous peoples, not to mention the kaleidoscope of national laws and regional agreements. Within this framework, we need to reconcile (...) and to collectively create new ocean governance in the wake of the significant progress recently made through the High Seas Treaty ».
« We are on a mission to organise, analyse, and democratise access to knowledge on climate laws and policies», Michal Nachmany, CEO and founder of Climate Policy Radar.
The legal apparatus should be made more comprehensible to all actors operating in the maritime sector and be more effective at the enforcement level to guarantee a more effective nature preservation and foster conditions of peace among peoples. Michal Nachmany, CEO and founder of Climate Policy Radar, highlighted: «We are on a mission to organise, analyse, and democratise access to knowledge on climate laws and policies. The ability to understand what is going on in this very messy black box of climate law and policy really hinders our progress, and the ability to make better laws, hold policymakers to account, integrate policy risk into decision-making, including mobilising private and public finance, really stops us from doing so ».
The experts invited debated on coastal resilience, local laws, protection of biodiversity, Mediterranean Sea preservation and adaptive solutions. The first panel, grounded on coastal resilience and indigenous law, was moderated by Daniel Wildcat (*1). The panelists Jenniffer Santo (*2) and Lesley Laukea (*3), showcased their experience related to their cultural background. In fact, the ability to survive the disastrous effects of climate change affecting coastlines is paramount also from a legal point of view. In many Countries, the legacy with the local customs strongly rooted in the society, created an additional legislative 'layer'. Indigenous laws result from rules established by prior ancestral communities that were acknowledged as fundamental rights or 'codes of conduct', teachings and axioms, that you cannot ignore to govern a certain territory.
*1 Professor at the Haskell Indian Nations University and Lead Investigator, Indigenous Coastlines People Hub of the National Science Foundation.
*2 Academic chair at the Graduate Academic Certificate Program in Planning for Disaster Reduction for the Salvador Padilla Escabi Graduate School of Planning - University of Puerto Rico.
*3 Professor, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Director of the Indigenous Knowledge & Earth and Environmental Convergent Science Program in Hawaii.
The second panel about biodiversity and precautionary approach in the Mediterranean Basin was moderated by Virginie Tassin-Campanella (*4), Vasco Becker-Weinberg (*5), Professor of Law at Lusophone University and NOVA School of Law President of the Portuguese Institute of the Law of the Sea, Sarra Sefrioui (*6) and Montassar Ben Salem (*7). Despite the initial mistrust, the precautionary principle, has been widely used since 1990s referring to all those situations in which science is not sure about cause-consequence relationship due to lack of knowledge, still work in progress. However, this cannot be taken as a pretext not to act nor to prepare an appropriate regulatory apparatus to prevent even worse environmental impacts. Thus, this principle is increasingly used in marine pollution and in the domestic fisheries legal regime. The 'precautionary approach', term used in some cases as an apparent synonym for 'precautionary principle', may conceal the will of some governments to downgrade the legal importance of preventing man-made environmental disasters. Thus, the importance of clarifying the issue.
*4 Lawyer, Founder of VTA Tassin, Vice-President of the INDEMER scientific council.
*5 Professor of Law at Lusophone University and NOVA School of Law President of the Portuguese Institute of the Law of the Sea.
*6 Associate Professor at the Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences of Tangier.
*7 Doctor of Law, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Legal, Political and Social Sciences of Tunis.
Marine Protected Areas, Environmental Impact Assessment, Ocean Data Collection, Marine Scientific Research have been the focus of attention as well.
The final part of the debate moderated by Andrew Heinrich, Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and MPhil from Oxford University, The panelists, Romany Webb (*8), Carlos Mata (*9) and Liam Weber (*10), addressed the pivotal theme of law adaptation aimed at integrating innovation in international and national law books through specific case study from Seychelles and Uruguay. This process is not that easy having regard to the complexity of the law in its different levels and applications, preventing unnecessary duplication. *** *8 Deputy Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.
*9 Doctor of Law and Social Sciences (University of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay - UDELAR) Head Professor of Public International Law. *10 Grants Manager of the Seychelles Conservations and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
By Maurice Abbati
Springer International Publishing