UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Investing in a sustainable future for our coastal economies

28 July 2021

UKRI confirm funding of £9.2million to safeguard future of marine economy

Marine Life

Six new research projects have been announced this week, each receiving a share of £9.2 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to investigate how to safeguard the future of the marine and coastal economy while protecting sea ecosystems. The projects aim to build a sustainable future for the marine environment and all those whose livelihoods depend on it, whilst aiming to protect ecosystems and communities.

Coastal communities are facing increased pressures from climate change, threats to marine wildlife including pollution as well as biodiversity loss and flooding. With the marine economy worth £48 billion, the research will support policy makers to sustainably manage the marine environment and economy.

UCL are project partners in one of the six projects, led by Professor Stephen Fletcher, University of Portsmouth. The project is entitled ‘Integrating diverse values into the sustainable management of marine resources in the UK’ and the goal is to generate an enduring step-change in the transdisciplinary capability of the UK marine policy stakeholder and research community.  The project will identify and incorporate more diverse voices and values into the sustainable management of the UK's marine resources.

Researchers will drive an innovative and creative agenda of transformational research that both significantly advances our understanding of values-based marine management, and which provides actionable tools and approaches that can feed directly into contemporary marine management practice in the UK.

The research will take place in Portsmouth and Newhaven, the Upper Severn Estuary and the Shetland Islands.

The UCL team will contribute a natural capital component to the project by exploring how values of coastal natural capital are currently considered in decision-making in the UK. We will work with performance arts researchers to reveal the diverse cultural values that coastal communities hold for these ecosystems, and work with decision-makers to understand how these revealed cultural values can be embedded in coastal ecosystem governance in the future.

Alison Fairbrass, Research Associate at UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources, said:

This is a really exciting opportunity to collaborate with a transdisciplinary team to reveal the diverse cultural values that communities hold for coastal ecosystems in the UK, and to explore how information about these values could feed into decision-making about these important ecosystems".

Project partners: University of Greenwich, Cardiff University, University of Highlands and Islands, University College London, University of Liverpool, Marine Biological Association, Howell Marine Consulting, New Economics Foundation, Ocean Conservation Trust, Marine Conservation Society, Company of Makers, Marine Management Organisation, Severn Estuary Partnership, Coastal Partnerships Network, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Newhaven Enterprise Zone, Portsmouth City Council, Natural England, National Maritime,  Society for Underwater Technology, Environment Agency

Supporting marine economies

The five-year research programme, called the Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources, is supported by the Strategic Priorities Fund which aims to increase high-quality multi and inter-disciplinary research and innovation.

Funding for the projects has been delivered by two UKRI research councils:

  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)


Photo credit

Photo by Julia Goralski on Unsplash