Equity and Inclusion: Empowering the Tropical Majority for Ocean Conservation

Giving residents a say in policymaking

Coastal residents in Sri Lanka, Southern India, and Thailand, who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, were permanently relocated inland to make way for tourism development.

Similarly, thousands of villagers along Mozambique’s Zambezi River could be displaced if a mega dam project proceeds in their community.

Both cases exemplify how poor Indigenous people in tropical regions are excluded from decision-making processes regarding the use of their lands.

Researchers argue that residents in tropical countries, known as the 'tropical majority,' should have a voice in the laws and policies that affect their oceans and waterways.

Including traditional ecological knowledge and respecting the local knowledge of coastal residents is crucial for effective ocean management.

Addressing inequities in ocean science and governance

Researchers emphasize the need to address inequities in ocean science and governance.

They call for policymakers to center equity in ocean governance, reconnect people and the ocean, redefine ocean literacy, and decolonize ocean research.

Specific goals related to equity and the rights of traditional peoples should be incorporated into international agreements on ocean sustainability.

Traditional ecological knowledge held by coastal residents should be respected and included in decision-making processes.

The article aims to raise awareness about the importance of including equity in international ocean governance meetings and agreements.

Challenges and future efforts

The inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge in the decision-making process poses a significant challenge.

Decision-makers need to recognize the importance of including local users and inviting them to the table.

Achieving greater equity in ocean governance and science will require a multiyear effort.

The article originated from discussions at the eighth Our Ocean Conference, where the need for equity in ocean governance and science became apparent.

Centering equity in ocean governance

To achieve ocean sustainability and ecosystems, the authors propose centering equity in ocean governance.

This approach involves giving a voice to the tropical majority, particularly Indigenous communities who are excluded from decision-making processes.

It also means reconnecting people and the ocean, redefining ocean literacy, and decolonizing ocean research.

By centering equity, it becomes possible to ensure fair representation and inclusivity in ocean governance and policymaking.

Empowering Indigenous communities for ocean conservation

The article highlights the importance of empowering Indigenous communities in tropical regions for effective ocean conservation.

These communities hold valuable traditional ecological knowledge that can contribute to sustainable management practices.

By including their perspectives and respecting their rights, it becomes possible to create more holistic and informed approaches to ocean conservation.

Empowering Indigenous communities also supports the recognition of their cultural values and strengthens their resilience in the face of environmental challenges.

A call for global collaboration and action

The authors urge for global collaboration and action to address the inequities in ocean governance and science.

This involves incorporating equity and inclusion into international agreements and policies on ocean sustainability.

It requires recognizing the rights and knowledge of the tropical majority and ensuring their active participation.

By working together, we can create a more just and sustainable future for our oceans and the communities that depend on them.


Robert C. Jones Jr. - U. Miami. (July 25, 2023). ‘Tropical majority’ need a say in ocean conservation. www.futurity.org.

Content Restricted To Members