Blue Communities

Global challenges

Millions of people across the globe rely on marine and coastal ecosystems for their livelihoods: food, employment and their general wellbeing. However, the marine environment is under immense pressure from the multiple – and often conflicting – needs of the people who use it. In Southeast Asia, where marine activities are important contributors to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), marine spatial planning involving coordinated decision-making has been highlighted as a key requirement for a sustainable future.

Through academic-stakeholder collaborations, community co-creation and co-delivery, the GCRF Blue Communities programme will support the development, implementation and ongoing management of initiatives that promote the sustainable use of marine resources by multiple users whilst protecting fragile marine ecosystems and supporting the livelihoods of the people in these coastal communities.

Led by the University of Plymouth's Professor Mel Austen of the School of Biological and Marine Sciences, Blue Communities is funded from the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the total value of which is £1.5 billion. The delivery partner for Blue Communities is UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The third GCRF Blue Communities Annual Meeting

Virtual meeting: 15–22 July 2020, 08:30–11:30 (GMT)

Researchers and local representatives from across the world will gather virtually this week to discuss some of the major challenges facing coastal communities and the various aspects of policy, planning and management required to support sustainable marine ecosystems.

The Annual Meeting was originally to be held in Hoi An, Vietnam, but following cancellation due to COVID-19, it will now be hosted online by the University of Plymouth with an adapted agenda of talks, workshops and debates. It will be the first to feature stakeholders in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, where the programme’s research projects are taking place.


Researcher and stakeholder collaboration

Blue Communities includes 12 underpinning and interrelated research projects that, in conjunction with coastal community stakeholders, are helping to develop knowledge on the impacts and opportunities of overfishing/sustainable fishing, rising tourism, renewable energy, climate change, coastal area management, rising populations, economic improvement and transport.

A key emphasis of the programme is on close collaboration with local researchers to build research capability that will support and underpin stakeholders and their decisions on marine spatial planning for the sustainable management of marine ecosystems. All of the projects share data and findings, and it is hoped they will also be able to extend the projects to other communities that suffer from similar challenges.