Oceans were a key theme of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 and the importance of conservation and sustainable use of the oceans was reinforced by the UN member states. This paper examines Australia’s policy capacity to develop and implement oceans policies in the context of its history of responses to key commitments to international forums, such as United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Our analysis highlights that governments such as Australia are now consciously making policies in oceans governance that they know they have the capacity to deliver. We conclude that Australian oceans governance has been constrained by this tendency towards focusing on relatively ‘safe’ areas of policy development, and that deeper more radical engagement is needed in order to build policy capacity so that Australia again becomes globally recognised as a leading nation in policy innovation in oceans governance.
Australian Journal of Maritime and Ocean Affairs / Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.165-179