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Keeping Humans in the Ecosystem
The World Ocean presents many opportunities, with the blue economy projected to at least double in the next two decades. However, capitalizing on these opportunities presents significant challenges and a multi-sectoral, integrated approach to managing marine socio-ecological systems will be required to achieve the full benefits projected for the blue economy. Integrated ecosystem assessments have been identified as the best means of delivering the information upon which marine resource management decisions can be made. By their nature, these assessments are inter-disciplinary, but to date have mostly focused on the natural sciences. Inclusion of human dimensions into integrated ecosystem assessments has been lagging, but is fundamental. Here we report on a Symposium, and the articles emanating from it that are included in this Theme Set, that address how to more effectively include human dimensions into integrated ecosystem assessments. We provide an introduction to each of the main symposium topics (governance, scenarios, indicators, participatory processes, and case studies), highlight the works that emerged from the symposium, and identify key areas in which more work is required. There is still a long way to go before we see end-to-end integrated ecosystem assessments inclusive of all the major current and potential ocean use sectors that also encompass multiple aspects of human dimensions. Nonetheless, it is also clear that progress is being made and we are developing tools and approaches, including the human dimension, that can inform management and position us to take advantage of the multi-sectoral opportunities of sustainable blue growth.