Principal Investigator: Steve Fletcher, Portsmouth University

The overarching goal of this project is to generate a step-change in the transdisciplinary capability of the UK marine policy stakeholder and research community to implement diverse values into  decision making.

Diverse values refer to the many dimensions of value including economic values, social and cultural values, aesthetic values, and natural values, and how they might be accounted for in decision-making frameworks such as instrumental values, intrinsic values and relational values. 

Marine environments and human well-being are inextricably linked through complex socio-ecological systems that span terrestrial, coastal and ocean domains. While this complexity is widely acknowledged in theory, current models of marine resource management practice do not adequately adopt the necessary transdisciplinary approaches to use diverse values or have the means to align them to decision making and policy development.

The transition to transdisciplinarity and diverse values is a challenge faced by marine science and policy communities worldwide and is acknowledged as a global science priority for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UNESCO 2019). It is a cross-cutting challenge which affects all marine management priorities. The inclusion of diverse values, particularly of a qualitative nature, into UK marine management processes is crucial, but at present is outside the experience, capability and comfort zone of many institutions and individuals in the marine management research and practitioner community. 

Working across three test study sites of Portsmouth / Newhaven, Upper Severn Estuary and the Shetland Islands, the aims of this research are:

  1. To generate a new conceptual basis for transdisciplinary marine management and research that allows multiple and diverse human values to be incorporated into marine management in the UK.
  2. To synthesise existing ecological and economic data with new diverse values approaches (collected using methods from largely outside the marine community) to produce groundbreaking transdisciplinary and holistic understanding of how coastal communities value marine resources and their management.
  3. To evaluate, through on-the-ground testing, how diverse values can: 1) be used to unlock the potential of ocean literacy to become an actionable policy tool; and 2) be integrated into marine governance institutions and practices to unlock a step-change in sustainable outcomes.
  4. To create and implement a national-scale transition plan to support the UK marine management and research community to mainstream transdisciplinary approaches.

The project legacy will be an increased understanding and implementation of diverse values into marine policy and decision making and the creation of transition plans for institutions to facilitate embedding transdisciplinary practices into the operations of organisations.

The Diverse Values project brings together an expert and creative interdisciplinary team of people from the University of Portsmouth, University College London and the Universities of Greenwich, Cardiff, Liverpool, and the Highlands & Islands. Other partners include the Marine Biological Association, Howell Marine Consulting, Company of Makers, Ocean Conservation Trust, Marine Conservation Society, and the New Economics Foundation.