ABOUT THE PROJECT

The climate and ecological emergencies, Brexit and Covid-19 illustrate the enormity of change and disturbance currently impacting coastal communities in the UK, and the urgency of building resilience to new forms of risk. The Resilience of Coastal Communities (ROCC) project aims to build the know-how to enhance the resilience of marine resource-users to environmental, regulatory and socio-cultural change, while simultaneously improving their wellbeing and reducing adverse impacts on the marine environment. 

Decisions about marine investment and management are often understood as prioritisation decisions (“this or that”), but they can also involve trade-offs, and so create winners and losers. Trade-off conflicts manifest in policy consultation, planning and licensing decisions, and in the everyday behaviours of resource-users choosing whether to support particular interventions. There is, therefore, increasing impetus to be explicit about trade-offs where they can explain the political acceptability, effectiveness and durability of marine plans, fisheries regulations, protected area designations or offshore wind farms. 

To date, research has focused on ecological trade-offs or social-ecological trade-offs between environmental sustainability and human welfare and wellbeing, with little attention being paid to resilience. Yet, emerging research shows that trade-offs exist between resilience and wellbeing, and between resilience and sustainability, with important implications for marine policy and practice. This research will apply the ‘nexus perspective’ to on-the-ground and policy interventions to systematically evaluate synergies and trade-offs among resilience, wellbeing and sustainability, and to identify opportunities to improve these outcomes together.

This research will address the three themes of the SMMR programme by: 

  1. Investigating how diverse marine resource-users respond to disturbance events, how their resilience intersects with their wellbeing and engagement with sustainability, and what they value as important for maintaining and improving nexus outcomes. 
  2. Applying the nexus perspective to the policy context to understand how diverse values and nexus dynamics are currently traded off in decision-making. Working closely with policy and industry stakeholders, this project will develop a decision support framework to interrogate the acceptability of trade-off decisions within and across marine sectors. 
  3. Applying the nexus perspective to on-the-ground interventions, to assess how these intend to improve resilience, wellbeing and/or sustainability; and how they currently deal with trade-offs across the nexus. Working closely with practitioners, we will identify opportunities to improve these interventions in the future, so they can better deliver triple benefits across the nexus.

The deliverables for this research project include: a new nexus perspective; a low-tech trade-off decision-support framework for use by policymakers and implementers, and; evidence that applying a nexus perspective can improve both policy and on-the-ground interventions in the UK’s marine social-ecological systems, across the domains of marine heritage, sustainable development of communities, and marine environmental regulation. 

This research will be world leading and of international importance. The resilience of people, communities and ecosystems underpins global action to sustainably manage aquatic ecosystems (SDG14), respond to climate change (SDG13), and deliver enduring improvements in wellbeing (SDG1+2). Our research addresses a significant gap in knowledge of how nexus dynamics play out across scales that will be fundamental to successful delivery of these Sustainable Development Goals.