Author: Dr Héloïse Berkowitz

When developing new policy frameworks, new business models or strategies for a sustainable industry, policy makers and managers often overlook the importance of governance. And indeed, frameworks for the blue bioeconomy, i.e. activities based on the sustainable use of renewable aquatic resources, emphasize the growth and job opportunities over governance models. Yet participatory governance is crucial to ensure the transition towards more sustainable models of development. 

In a recent PANORAMED report, we investigate the key principles of governance for a sustainable blue bioeconomy. Based on a review of the literature and on the analysis of concrete, existing cases and their best practices, we design a model of governance that is very local, very adaptive and that integrates different stakeholders, from civil society to economic players, scientists and public administration. Importantly, players share decision-making power in this participatory approach. Participation of all in the governance is needed to ensure stakeholders’ buy-in and successful transformative change.

The report draws on in-depth online surveys of four cases: Sand Eel Co-Management Committee, Biolab Ponent, FishMPABlue 2 and Interreg Med Renewable Energy Community. Beyond their differences, all four cases show the importance of a holistic and integrated approach to governance, in the sustainability transition dynamics. Further, each case present a variation of participatory, multi-stakeholder governance that seeks to inform and coordinate sustainable and responsible innovation processes. Ultimately, all four emphasize the need to build trust among participants, to ensure that joint, bottom up governance can operate well.

On this basis, we argue that the principle of ‘participatory governance’, following a model of local, multi-stakeholder participation, needs to be more systemically integrated in all local and transnational transition projects in PANORAMED and future transnational funding programmes. Governance can no longer be neglected in the processes of transition of our societies towards sustainability.


Dr Héloïse Berkowitz is a permanent researcher at CNRS and Toulouse School of Management-Research. She holds a Phd in management from Ecole Polytechnique and she graduated from Sorbonne in history, HEC Paris in the Programme Grande Ecole and CEMS Alliance in International Management. She was a visiting scholar at Columbia University, Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions, and currently at Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals. Her research deals with transitions to sustainability, with a focus on sectoral governance and collective action among organizations (meta-organizations), in various empirical settings from natural resources to collaborative economy or ocean sustainability. Her work has been published in the Academy of Management Review, the Journal of Business Ethics and European Management Review. She is currently co-editor in chief of M@n@gement, the first free and open access journal in management.