The main objective of this project is to understand how marine and coastal spaces are made governable in a time when the Blue Economy paradigm legitimizes increased utilization of these spaces. A central contribution is thus the production of updated and relevant knowledge about the performative effects of contemporary governance developments in line with BE rationale.
Coastal areas have traditionally been subjected to little or no regulation as the use of these areas has not necessitated such organization and coordination. In situations where some management has been needed, the actors in question have dealt with the issues themselves in forms of self-governance. Today, however, the coastal space is experiencing increased interest and has become a common area for conflicts of interest between a number of industries and activities. As such, evolving economies and technologies do not only cause the need for governance, but they also outline a situation where the ability to govern is growing increasingly wicked. This has caused attention to study how coastal governance is to be better adapted to modern uses of the coastal space.
In recent years, the term «blue economy» has increased in popularity. It is an all-encompassing term that tries to define how we, as a society, should develop the use of our marine and coastal areas to enable further growth the global economy in a sustainable manner. This implies the development of innovative industries and technologies. According to the EU, the blue economy aims at transforming the economy into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive carbon-neutral, circular economy.
The issue, however, is that there remain many unanswered questions about the conceptual definition and application of a blue economy, and the agendas are thus lacking accuracy in how a blue economy can guide marine and coastal governance. There are many differences in the interpretations of the term and taking into consideration the plethora of varying situations the blue economy tries to account for, it is unlikely that consensus will be reached on a universal definition. Hence, to define the impact the blue economy agendas are making, illustrative case studies are an integral part of answering that question.
With the bottom-up approach that is encouraged, this Ph.D. project will be looking at how cases of coastal governance deal with the complex challenges caused by the dilemmas of developing a blue economy. My intention is not to develop norms for how coastal governance can become best, but rather my focus will be on studying governance as a societal phenomenon. In the crossing between normative and empirical governance theory, I will be more towards the empirical side where the focus is on developing knowledge about governance; how it uses management tools, its results, efficiency, and consequences. Hence, to study governance empirically is to study its practices and how governance actually plays out.