The living infinite: Envisioning futures for transformed human-nature relationships on the high seas

Elsevier, Marine Policy, Volume 153, 2023, 105644, ISSN 0308-597X
Laura M. Pereira, Guillermo Ortuño Crespo, Diva J. Amon, Renuka Badhe, Salomão Bandeira, Frida Bengtsson, Miranda Boettcher, Gabrielle Carmine, William W.L. Cheung, Bwalya Chibwe, Daniel Dunn, Maria A. Gasalla, Ghassen Halouani, David E. Johnson, Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, Silvana Juri, Patrick W. Keys, Hannah M. Lübker, Andrew S. Merrie, Farah Obaidullah, Juliano Palacios-Abrantes, Lynne J. Shannon, U. Rashid Sumaila, Edoardo Superchi, Naomi Terry, Colette C.C. Wabnitz, Moriaki Yasuhara, Wei Zhou

We find ourselves at a critical crossroads for the future governance of the high seas, but the perceived remoteness of the global ocean creates a psychological barrier for people to engage with it. Given challenges of overexploitation, inequitable access and other sustainability and equity concerns, current ocean governance mechanisms are not fit-for-purpose. This decade offers opportunities for direct impact on ocean governance, however, triggering a global transformation on how we use and protect the half of our planet requires a concerted effort that is guided by shared values and principles across regions and sectors. The aim of the series of workshops outlined in this paper, was to undertake a futures thinking process that could use the Nature Futures Framework as a mechanism to bring more transformative energy into how humans conceptualise the high seas and therefore how we aim to govern the ocean. We found that engaging with the future through science fiction narratives allowed a more radical appreciation of what could be and infusing science with artistic elements can inspire audiences beyond academia. Thus, creative endeavours of co-production that promote and encourage imagination to address current challenges should be considered as important tools in the science-policy interface, also as a way to elicit empathetic responses. This workshop series was a first, and hopefully promising, step towards generating a more creative praxis in how we imagine and then act for a better future for the high seas.