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Biliana Cicin-Sain


Director, Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy Professor of Marine Policy, School of Marine Science and Policy College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware

Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain (PhD in political science, UCLA, postdoctoral training, Harvard University) is Director of the Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy and Professor of Marine Policy at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).  She is a world leader in the field of integrated coastal and ocean governance and has forged international collaboration among all sectors of the international oceans community to advance the global oceans agenda.

As Director of the Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy, Dr. Cicin-Sain oversees a program of research; policy analyses; advice-giving to governmental, non-governmental, and private sector institutions; conferences; and publications. Major Center research themes in the past five years have been: Integrated coastal and ocean management around the world; U.S. national ocean and coastal policy; implementation of international agreements on oceans, coasts, and small island developing states; climate and oceans issues; offshore marine aquaculture; ocean planning in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Dr. Cicin-Sain teaches two major courses in the School of Marine Affairs and Policy in CEOE:  International and National Ocean Policy, and Advanced International and National Ocean Policy.  Dr. Cicin-Sain has supervised 65 graduate students in marine policy; her past students typically are currently in positions of authority in marine policy in different government agencies (national, state, international), nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies, and the private sector.  The Mangone Center has also hosted about 60 fellows from around the world.

Dr. Cicin-Sain is the founder and President, Global Ocean Forum, initially mobilized in 2001 to place issues related to oceans, coasts, and island states on the agenda of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and to agree on a detailed set of global ocean targets and timelines.  Since 2001, the Global Ocean Forum has brought together ocean leaders from governments, nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies, the private sector, and scientific institutions from 110 countries to promote the implementation of international ocean agreements, analyze emerging policy issues, and advance international consensus on unresolved ocean issues.         

Dr. Cicin-Sain has served (or is serving as) as a policy advisor to:  International organizations--UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, World Bank, UN Environment Programme, Inter-American Development Bank; national governments--Governments of Albania, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, R.O. Korea, United States, Vietnam; and U.S. coastal states and counties.  Since 1991, she has frequently participated in United Nations negotiations on oceans and coasts, especially in the 1992 Earth Summit, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, the 2012 Rio+20 summit, and annual UN negotiations on oceans.  Since 2009, she has been playing a prominent role in bringing the oceans issues into the global climate negotiations in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and into the biodiversity negotiations in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Among her advisory appointments, Dr. Cicin-Sain has served on various boards of the U.S. National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering), including the Marine Board and the Ocean Studies Board; on the Department of Interior’s Scientific Committee on the Outer Continental Shelf;  as a senior policy advisor in the International Program Office of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); as a scientific advisor to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and to the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative; as an advisor to the Independent Oceans Commission, Portugal; as an advisor to the Ocean Policy Research Foundation in Japan; on the Academic Committee of Xiamen University in China; and as a Visiting Professor of Marine Policy at the United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Study in Tokyo.

Dr. Cicin-Sain is the author of over 100 publications in marine policy, with an emphasis on cross-cutting issues related to integrated ocean and coastal governance.  Her 1998 book Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management:  Concepts and Practices has been used in academic and governmental training efforts around the world.  Her 2000 book, The Future of U.S. Ocean Policy:  Choices for the New Century, which has been called “…the ultimate guide to the emerging debate on U.S. ocean governance,” presented a blueprint for national ocean policy reform in the United States.  Her co-edited volume, The Routledge Handbook on National and Regional Ocean Policies (forthcoming in 2015) brings together analyses of the experiences of 15 nations and 4 regions of the world which have taken concrete steps toward cross-cutting integrated oceans governance.

Dr. Cicin-Sain was named the 2010 Laureate for the Elizabeth Haub Award for Environmental Diplomacy in recognition of her “outstanding contributions to the international efforts to preserve the world’s oceans and the several international agreements relating to them.” Given annually since 1997 by the International Council of Environmental Law and Pace University School of Law, the Elizabeth Haub Award is typically awarded to key diplomatic figures that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of international law and policy.

Among her other awards, in November 2010, Dr. Cicin-Sain was awarded an honorary doctorate in maritime law by the President of Korea Maritime University at the World Ocean Forum in Busan, Korea.   In 2007, Dr. Cicin-Sain was awarded the Elisabeth-Mann-Borgese Meerespreis (“Prize of the Sea”) by the Ministry of Science, Economics and Transport of the Land Schleswig-Holstein in Germany.  The Honorary Prize is awarded to prominent personalities that advocate the protection and preservation of the sea in politics and society.  The Meerespreis Jury cited Professor Cicin-Sain’s “political and scientific engagement for an ecosystem-based integrated management of the oceans [which] has been instrumental in promoting a responsible and sustainable use of marine environment within the international public.”

In 2007, Dr. Cicin-Sain was also awarded the Coastal Zone Foundation Award for leadership in coastal management, and in 2002, she was awarded the Ocean and Coastal Stewardship Award at the California and the World Ocean Conference together with the late Robert W. Knecht, her husband and co-author, first director of the US Coastal Zone Management Program.        

Earlier in her career, Dr. Cicin-Sain served in two US federal agencies:  NOAA and the Department of Housing and Urban Development; was a professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB); founder and director of UCSB’s Ocean and Coastal Policy Center; and a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and at the East-West Center in Hawaii. 

Of Croatian descent, Professor Cicin-Sain was born in Italy and spent her early years in Argentina, prior to immigrating to the U.S.  She speaks English, Spanish, and French fluently, as well as some Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, and Portuguese. 


• Ocean Governance


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-2841
Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail: ceoe-info@udel.edu

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