The image shows a cog ship at sea
Photograph: Thrago/Creative Commons/CC BY 2.0

Centre for Ocean Governance (COG)

Researh Centre

The politics and governance of the world’s oceans are of pressing importance to Norway, which manages ocean areas six times the size of its land mass.

Oceans are often analysed as sites of environmental politics or economic potential or security dynamics. However, in issues as diverse as maritime power projection in the South China Sea, piracy, public-private partnerships for the blue economy, and preventing plastic pollution, it is the intersection of economics, environment and security that demands further research to elucidate how the world’s oceans are – and could be better – governed.

NUPI’s Centre for Ocean Governance (COG) focuses on these complex and often informal interactions across issue areas and actor groups that shape efforts to govern or dominate ocean space. This focus supplements the Norwegian scholarly community’s existing strengths on issue-specific maritime legal regimes and natural sciences.

Our aim is to deliver high-quality scholarly publications and facilitate policy conversations and public discussion on:

Ocean diplomacy

Our researchers seek to understand why and how diplomacy and expert knowledge shape outcomes in global ocean governance (and why these efforts sometimes fail). This research strand aims to provide advice on how evidence-based policymaking on ocean issues can be further promoted and how the resources and expertise of the non-state actors can contribute to responsible global public goods management.

Geopolitics and security governance at sea

We research how countries’ geopolitical aspirations, and the non-state companies and policy networks with whom these states are associated, shape political relations around the world’s oceans. COG has country-level expertise on the ocean politics of Russia, the U.S., China, Japan, and Brazil, among others.

Comparative and historical research

We engage in systematic, long-lines studies of how the ocean space has become an object for international relations and of the broader networks (state and non-state) that shape policy outcomes for regional seas.

The NUPI research team behind the centre are:


Bildet viser Luciakammen på Svalbard

Launching Norway’s Plan for the UN’s “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development”

January 8, 2021

NUPI’s Centre for Ocean Governance is ready to step up to challenge. 


NUPI awarded funding for five research projects by the Research Council of Norway

December 16, 2020

The Research Council of Norway awarded NUPI funding for five new research projects.

Bildet viser en isbjørn som svømmer i havet

Doubling Down on Arctic Diplomacy

November 12, 2020

What impact will the new Biden administration have on Arctic politics? While the Arctic as a region is not likely to figure as feature in the 100-day plan of a new Biden presidency,  there are reasons to expect some key changes for the region.


Prestigious ERC funding to Elana Wilson Rowe – ‘I’m thrilled!’

July 27, 2018

The European Research Council (ERC) yearly awards talented early career researchers project funding through Starting grants. 403 research projects were granted this year, and Elana Wilson Rowe's (NUPI) is one of them.

Security realities of freezing politics and thawing landscapes in the Arctic

February 17, 2023

How to address Arctic security and governance issues in a region marked by climate change and geopolitical challenges?


Publication : Editorial
Publication : Report
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The challenge of IUU fishing in West Africa and The PotentialTechnology Solutions: An analysis of international cooperationprojects in Ghana and Gu...

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a social, economic and environmental problem. It undermines management and drives the depletion ...
Publication : Chapter

A Governance and Risk Inventory for a Changing Arctic

In this chapter, Elana Wilson Rowe, Ulf Sverdrup, Karsten Friis, Geir Hønneland, and Mike Sfraga caution against viewing trends of conflict and cooperation ...
Publication : Report

China in the Sustainable Development Agenda: Key environmental issues and responses

China is dealing with very serious pollution levels and the unsustainable use of many natural resources. Environmental issues, concerning both air, ground, ...
Publication : Report

A Governance and Risk Inventory for a Changing Arctic

Many government officials, military leaders, and political observers have proclaimed the rise of a new, post-Cold War global great power competition between ...

Mind the Gap: National Views of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Japan has played an intrinsic role in formulating and promoting the concept of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) by making its version a core element ...

Improving Future Ocean Governance – Governance of Global Goods in an Age of Global Shifts

Japan’s G20 presidency in 2019 will take the lead in promoting environmentally sustainable economic growth and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ...
Publication : NUPI Policy Brief

The Arctic Council and US domestic policymaking

One widely recognized achievement of the Arctic Council and its various working groups has been the production of collectively generated assessments on ...
Publication : MONOGRAFI

Arctic Governance: Power in cross-border cooperation

This book seeks to pose and explore a question that sheds light on the contested but largelyl cooperative nature of Arctic governance in the post Cold-War ...

Private force and the emergence of the international system

This chapter deals with the importance of private force to the early emergence and spread of the international system. It discusses how varieties of non-traditional ...
Publication : ARTIKKEL

Kaperne kommer!

(Available in Norwegian only): I en kommentar i Aftenposten i februar sammenlignet Inger Anne Olsen dagens sjørøveri utenfor Somalia med kapervirksomhet ...
Publication : Report
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Navigating Breakup: Security realities of freezing politics and thawing landscapes in the Arctic

Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has had immediate and ongoing effects for Arctic security and cooperative governance at both a regional ...
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Space, nature and hierarchy: the ecosystemic politics of the Caspian Sea

The Anthropocene has given rise to growing efforts to govern the world’s ecosystems. There is a hitch, however, ecosystems do not respect sovereign borders; ...
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Ecosystems and Ordering: Exploring the Extent and Diversity of Ecosystem Governance

This article argues that, to grasp how global ordering will be impacted by planetary-level changes, we need to systematically attend to the question of ...


Project : Research project

Empires, Privateering and the sea

EMPRISE studies the role of the importance of power at sea for the formation of empires and states from 1500-1856.
Project : Research Project
The image shows Luciakammen in Spitsbergen

The Lorax Project: Understanding Ecosystemic Politics

Do regional politics around border-crossing ecosystems share important resemblances and differ in significant ways from global politics?
Project : Research Project
The image shows Norwegian KNM Steil during Arctic Hawk exercise 2019

Revitalizing Transatlantic Maritime Security

This project will generate concrete policy proposals, particularly in the maritime domain, and look at ways for the United States and Europe, and Norway in particular, to adapt their military division of labor both to improve the Alliance's military effectiveness and to show to domestic audiences that all allies and partners gave "skin in the game". It will also work to help shape the Alliance’s maritime strategy (last updated in 2011), which is slated for an overhaul.

Centre manager:

Oceans  Governance  Foreign policy  Security policy  Climate  The Arctic  Russia and Eurasia  South and Central America  Asia  Europe  North America  Diplomacy  Historical IR
Mon 2 Nov 2020
Time: 12:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: Webinar

A strengthened ocean cooperation Norway – China

What opportunities does the Ocean give us? And what challenges does the Ocean face? This webinar will present China Council’s rapport: “Building a Sustainable Ocean Economy for China”.

Mon 17 Jun 2019
Time: 08:30 Europe/Oslo
Location: NUPI

Governing oceans in an age of global shifts

How can we ensure that the oceans are governed in a secure and sustainable way? How can coastal states like Norway use the oceans to increase their economic growth? Welcome to this seminar and launch of NUPI’s new Center for Ocean Governance.

Tue 15 Mar 2022
Time: 11:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: Microsoft Teams

Webinar: Ocean Governance: Sustainability and security seen from Japan and Europe

This webinar offers views on core ocean governance challenges and reflections on how to strengthen ocean-related cooperation from Japanese and European perspectives.

Wed 27 Apr 2022
Time: 16:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: C.J. Hambrosplass 2 D / Livestream to Facebook and Youtube

Are we making progress on reducing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing? Challenges and Measures

This seminar seeks to take stock of the progress made by states, regional organizations, and their international partners in reducing IUU fishing, discuss the most successful measures available so far, and reflect on the main challenges of such an endeavour and what can be done differently.

Thu 23 Jun 2022
Time: 14:00 Europe/Oslo
Location: Microsoft Teams

Webinar: IUU fishing and the challenges of sustainable fisheries management: the role of Norway and international cooperation.

In this seminar, we will discuss the role of international cooperation and development assistance in addressing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.