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Transformation as a concept has gained prominence in environmental governance as a proposed solution to the plethora of major global crises facing ocean spaces. Recent analysis has begun exploring the concept within the context of ocean governance. However, the question of how transformation is achieved is hindered by a perceived lack of clarity, multiple interpretations of the concept, and its growing buzzword status. This comprehensive review untangles theories of transformation in the context of ocean governance by proposing a conceptual ‘Taxonomy of Transformation’ and synthesises key attributes of definitions of transformation. Conceptualisations of transformation converge around depth of change, but have different interpretations of speed and scale, which highlight potential risks to implementing transformation. In light of this, this review proposes an interpretation of transformation in ocean governance that synthesises multiple theoretical perspectives, and moves towards a more contextually nuanced and less prescriptive approach to transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105710
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date6 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Transformation
  • Transformative change
  • Ocean governance
  • Socio-ecological system
  • Socio-technical system
  • Transition

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