Coastal communities and environmental policy

As well as conducting pure research on marine environments, many members of our world-leading Marine Institute work on sustainable policy solutions. Professor Richard Thompson continues to set the international agenda on research into the causes and effects of marine litter. A decade-and-a-half on from his seminal paper, which for the first time described the accumulation of 'microplastics' in the oceans, he has mapped out much of the territory upon which our understanding of both the impacts of plastics and the potential solutions are based. This ongoing research has directly influenced UK and international government policies around taxes on plastic carrier bags and the use of microbeads in cosmetics, with Richard also contributing to government-funded research and inquiries into road debris and sustainability within the fashion industry.

Professor Alison Raby is renowned worldwide for her work on coastal defences and field investigations following earthquake-induced tsunamis. Her research has benefitted the analysis, design and reassessment of seawalls and breakwaters. Having documented the global nature of climate change impacts on living organisms from microbes to plants to animals in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems, Professor Camille Parmesan is now working on the interface of policy and science. She has been involved in several international assessments of climate change impacts and active in climate change programmes for many international conservation organisations. Dr Sian Rees and Dr Matthew Ashley have explored the potential of marine environments to provide nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change and benefit biodiversity in the UK, while Professor Gerd Masselink and colleagues in the Coastal Marine Applied Research (CMAR) consultancy support the appropriate management of coastal, marine and estuarine resources and activities.

Environmental policy is strongly influenced by media and public agendas. Professor Alison Anderson, an expert on science communication, undertakes research on media coverage of coastal issues and public perceptions. Her first book, 'Media, Culture and the Environment' (Routledge, 1997), was the first major study of media coverage of environmental issues in the UK. Her latest book 'Media, Environment and the Network Society', examines the role of the media in communicating oil spills and its influence on the policymaking arena.

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