Publications & Outputs
Welcome from the Programme Director
08 November 2018
By Prof. Melanie Austen, Blue Communities Programme Director & Head of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Welcome to this first Newsletter for the Blue Communities project. I am incredibly proud to be able to lead a fantastic team of researchers across the UK and SE Asia in this really exciting project. We aim to build capacity to create and implement marine plans that will support management of the marine environment for sustainable outcomes in terms of marine biodiversity, ecosystem services and the livelihoods of coastal communities, taking into account their health and well-being. We will consider many issues including future climate change effects, current and possible future governance, fisheries, aquaculture and tourism, health and well-being; and the tools and approaches such as modelling, development of renewable energy and application of satellite observations that might support our aims. We are applying these approaches in specific case studies, particularly using the UNESCO marine Biosphere reserves and Sabah Marine Parks as areas that are open to exploring new approaches for improving interactions between people and the marine environment and actively seeking sustainable outcomes.
By achieving our aims and objectives, we have an opportunity to make a real difference on the ground to the marine environment in our case studies and their coastal communities, and to learn lessons and develop supporting tools that can be applied globally. This is what drives all of us who are working in Blue Communities. We are addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being and life below water, as they apply in the marine areas and their coastal communities in Southeast Asia.
We are funded by the UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund (UKRI GCRF) under their GROW call – to grow research capability that can address the needs of Official Development Assistance (ODA) countries. Blue Communities is a large project (£6.7 million) with a partnership of four Southeast Asian Universities: Western Philippines University in Palawan, Universitas Nasional in Indonesia, Hanoi National University of Education in Vietnam, University of Malaya in Malaysia; in the UK we have University of Exeter and University of Plymouth; the project is led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (which is where I am from); and we also have three NGO partners: Blue Ventures, International Pole & Line Foundation, and North Devon Biosphere Reserve.
We are engaging in truly interdisciplinary research and already have around 70 researchers engaged across diverse areas such as ecology, modelling, environmental economics, psychology, public health, environmental governance, renewable energy, earth observation, fisheries, aquaculture, systematic review and evidence synthesis, resource conservation and ecotourism. We will work in collaboration with all the diverse stakeholders in our case study areas and the Southeast Asian universities have already been undertaking considerable engagement with the coastal communities.
Blue Communities aims to build capacity and undertake research bringing together a complex intersection of multiple disciplines, focusing on the real needs of coastal communities and the marine environments they are dependent on. Even though it is a large, 4 year project, we know that there is much more that can be done. Our project is a strong basis on which to build further work and leave a lasting legacy. We welcome interactions and collaborations with others in the region already working, or planning to work towards similar goals. Together we are working in Blue Communities towards building capability for marine planning in Southeast Asia, because actively, well-managed marine ecosystems are better able to support the health, well-being, food security and livelihoods of people.
Other recent newsletter articles
Project 6 introduction
8 November 2018
By Anastasia Voronkova, University of Exeter
Project 12 introduction
13 November 2018
By Isabel Richter, University of Plymouth
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