Press Release: New agreement to strengthen sustainable ocean-based economies

United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and Norway support developing countries in building sustainable ocean-based economies through strengthened ocean governance.

Joint Press Release: United Nations Office of Legal Affairs and Norway

The United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, through its Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), and Norway, have entered into an agreement to provide support to developing countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in building sustainable ocean-based economies through a series of capacity-building trainings to be organized over a four year period.

Globally, more than three billion people depend on the oceans for their livelihoods. Ocean industries contribute USD 1.5 trillion to the global economy every year and are expected to grow. However, the long-term benefits of further developing the ocean economy will depend on the sustainability of activities in the ocean sector. The full and effective implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and related instruments is an important key to ensuring the sustainable development of the oceans.

The project, which will be implemented by DOALOS, in the context of its capacity-building mandate,  will seek to address critical capacity barriers at the regional and national levels for the implementation of UNCLOS, thereby contributing to the development of sustainable ocean-based economies. Project activities will be tailored to the needs and requests of developing states participating in the project, so as to enable them to better address strategically important and time-sensitive issues related to law of the sea and ocean governance. This will thus lay the foundation for strengthened, sustainable and inclusive ocean-based economies.

— DOALOS is an ideal partner for this exciting project. Compliance with and further development of international law, including the Law of the Sea, is a priority for the Norwegian government. DOALOS has consistently been recognized for its role in contributing to the wider acceptance and universal and consistent application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, says Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide.

— We must protect the oceans, but at the same time ensure that the oceans can continue to provide livelihood, food and energy. Responsible management is key to creating long-lasting new jobs and sustainable industries. This project will support Small Island Developing States and other developing coastal states in strengthening their legal frameworks for a sustainable ocean economy, thereby helping to achieve several of the Sustainable Development Goals, says Norway’s Minister of International Development, Dag-Inge Ulstein.

Norway has provided 2.2 million USD in financial support to the project, which is expected to train about 280 participants from developing countries over its four-year duration. The support is part of Norway’s newly established Oceans for Development programme which is managed by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

— The United Nations takes very seriously its role in promoting capacity-building in the field of international law, including the law of the sea, with a view to ensuring that all States are able to effectively participate in the international legal order. The oceans can contribute significantly to achieving the Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, it is important to recall that the health and resilience of our oceans depends on the capacity of all States to chart a sustainable path for the development of the oceans, says the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares.

Programme Activities

The project will comprise a number of capacity building activities for selected developing countries, including the delivery of regional training courses; and the analysis of frameworks for ocean governance at the national level in selected beneficiary States.

For 2020, the programme of assistance will consist of three activities; two regional customized short-courses which will be implemented for (1) approximately 20 States from the wider Caribbean region, and (2) 14 States in Pacific region, focusing on SIDS; (3) consultations with African States, the African Union, and relevant regional Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs) with a view to identifying specific capacity building activities that would reinforce national and regional ocean governance programmes of work. The programme will also commence the analyses of frameworks for ocean governance for selected beneficiary States. Should the COVID-19 situation impede in-person training, initially, these analyses will be prioritized and the programme will also develop needs-based foundation courses to be delivered virtually and to complement eventual in-person trainings.

Participation in the training programmes will be based on the nomination of participants by States. The nomination of female candidates will be strongly encouraged with a view to promoting gender balance in ocean affairs and the law of the sea.


Participation in the project

Additional information on the project, including in relation to the process for the selection of beneficiary States and the nomination of participants for specific activities will be made available in due course on the DOALOS website:

For more information, please visit DOALOS website at or contact DOALOS on E-mail:

Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea
Office of Legal Affairs
United Nations, Room DC2-0450
New York, N.Y. 10017, U.S.A.