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Women In Marine Governance: Maila Paisano Guilhon e Sá

#WIMG is a PERMAGOV campaign designed to celebrate the role of women in marine governance. Case studies take the form of short interviews where participants share their background, interests, ideas and recommendations for improving the way in which ocean affairs are managed. Each story is unique. By spotlighting our WIMG stars, we hope that readers from all walks of life will be inspired to make their contribution in support of a sustainable ocean. Featured in this case study is Maila Paisano Guilhon e Sá, Research Associate at the Research Institute for Sustainability - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam.

 Maila Paisano Guilhon e Sá

Current job

I’m a Fellow at the Nippon Foundation – University of Edinburgh Ocean Voices Programme. As part of my fellowship research, I’m investigating challenges, needs and pathways for female early career professionals to ascend in their careers, using a social movement in Brazil - the Women’s League for the Ocean - as a study case. I also work part-time as a Research Associate at RIFS Potsdam on the Horizon Europe Project Marine SABRES, whose overarching objective is to accelerate the uptake of ecosystem-based management. Our team is focusing on governance measures and solutions for the three case-study areas in Europe: the Tuscan Archipelago, Arctic and Macaronesia. As part of my work, I try to look into the governance approaches and innovations for areas facing various challenges, ranging from regulating tourism activities, pressures in fishing from climate change to the establishment of marine protected areas in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. For that, I use information available in the literature as well as governance information collected in the areas of the three study cases.

Study and career path

Before my current jobs, I had previous experiences studying and working in Brazil, where I was born and raised. My academic background includes: a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences, a master's in Integrated Environmental Analysis and a PhD in Oceanography. Prior to an academic pathway, I accumulated experience working for big and small consultancies, and for an NGO where my focus was on environmental education and conservation. Also, I volunteered for sea turtles projects in Brazil where I decided I wanted to pursue a career looking for strategies for protecting and conserving ocean ecosystems.

Marine governance

For me, human societies and natural systems are intrinsically interlinked in a continuous loop of action and reaction. Therefore, from my perspective, thinking of marine governance should include actors, networks, behaviors, rules, institutions, and power relations. If I could change something about marine governance, it would be to ensure that it is addressed in a holistic and inclusive way. Those facing the challenges or who are/will be the subject of new governance instruments should always be granted a seat and a say at the table.


Marine governance is definitely an exciting field! My advice is to build a trustworthy network of women – in different career stages - that you can rely on, cheer for, and support. A strong network of cheerleaders is fundamental to celebrating our victories. This should also be a place where we can be comforted and comfort others in the difficult moments of our lives and careers.

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PERMAGOV has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe research and innovation programme HORIZON-CL6-2022-GOVERNANCE-01-03 under grant agreement No 101086297, and by UK Research and Innovation under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee grant numbers 10045993, 10062097, 101086297.

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