UCL Department of Geography


60 Seconds with…Emeritus Professor Peter Jones

13 December 2023

As Emeritus Professor Peter Jones prepares for his Retirement Lecture on 25 January 2024, we spoke to him about his research into Marine Protected Areas.

Emeritus Professor Peter Jones

Emeritus Professor Jones's Inaugural Lecture

Tell us a little about your research...

“This research integrates natural and social science to gain an understanding of marine protected areas (MPAs) as social-ecological systems.

“It focuses on the effectiveness of MPA governance framework in reducing the impacts of human activities to better achieve marine conservation objectives.

“It also explores the fairness or equity of the MPA governance framework.

Why is your research important?

"There is an internationally agreed target to effectively and equitably protect 30% of the area of global oceans by 2030 to help address the global biodiversity crisis by conserving and restoring marine ecosystems.

"Many countries, including the UK, are striving to achieve this target but there are concerns that the focus will be on the spatial 30% MPA target, potentially leading to ‘paper parks’ that are less than effective and are also inequitable in that they lead to injustices.

"This research focuses particularly on whether MPAs are effective and equitable, and explores different perspectives on how effectiveness and equity could be improved."

What inspires you in your work?

“I have always loved being by, on or in the sea so it was natural that my applied research would focus on how we can better protect, conserve and restore the marine ecosystems on which we all significantly depend, including being inspired by it. 

What has been your most memorable career moment so far?

“Being involved in a UN workshop and conference in Rome towards a 2016 call to action for marine protected areas, which was agreed by attending diplomatic representatives from 33 countries, definitely stands out.

“Closer to the water, watching a tropical cyclone from my coastal chalet in Denham, Shark Bay, Western Australia during case study research there was also very memorable!   

What passions/hobbies do you have outside of work?

“I am a keen sailor and love being out on my sail boat enjoying being at sea and watching marine wildlife.

“Also, one of the great things about doing the research I do is that we can combine travel further afield with my interest in coastal and marine ecosystems, as we often include marine protected areas in our holiday plans.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

“The Dawn of Everything: a new history of humanity (David Graeber and David Wengrow) - an inspiringly enlightening and optimistic read!

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