Oceans as an Asset

3ROceans - Work package 2: Asset

Oceans as an Asset

This work package analyzes the regulatory and representational aspects of how parts of the high seas and the deep oceans took on the features of an asset to be traded and commoditized, focusing in particular on minerals of the deep ocean and wave energy. Together, the work package will analyze the endurability of oceans representations as an asset and how presentations of the ocean as a medium created regulatory systems that significantly altered the utilization of the ocean. The individual studies are described briefly below.

Treasures from the Deep: Regulating the Imaginary Markets for Marine Minerals

Principal investigator: Mats Ingulstad

Marine minerals are not like other minerals, they are now considered as a part of the common heritage of mankind and subject to a separate legal regime. When the regime was established the pervasiveness of representations of the ocean as endlessly bountiful led to speculation that the marine minerals would outcompete the traditional miners, leading to calls for regulatory action to allocate market shares between land and sea-based industries. These initiatives intersected with the emergence of the UN in the 1970s as a champion for the sovereign right of third world producer states to establish commodity cartels to regulate the production, prices and distribution of their key raw material exports. This project investigates how these two competing paradigms of resource ownership, state sovereignty and common heritage, both indicated that the Convention of the Law of the Sea should become something more than just a Constitution for the Ocean, and it analyses the causes and consequences of the failure to turn it into a global Charter for minerals extraction encompassing both land and sea.

Ocean Space Visions for an Alternative Energy Future

Principal investigator: Thomas Brandt

Brandt’s sub-project will provide knowledge about the challenges facing renewable energy system technologies based on marine science and engineering. In these innovation processes the ocean figured as both a part of nature that must be rendered legible through scientific representations, and a territory where visions of global sustainable futures could be located.

Drawing on theory and methodology from the history of science, engineering and technology we will analyse previously unused primary sources, oral history and public administration records related to ocean wave energy conversion in 1970s to 1990s Norway. Our aim is to trace the historical development of some pertinent instances of how the ocean space was sought transformed into a resource in the visions for an alternative energy future.

Work package 2 also includes a pilot study of phd-student Tirza Meyer on the history of The Law of the Sea Convention and the concept of “Common Heritage of Mankind.” She is analyzing how idealism and political realism clashed during the conceptualization of this convention through a detailed study of the two main advocates of the idea, Arvid Pardo and Elisabeth Mann Borges.