Safeguarding our seas: the value of a systems approach to 21st century marine challenges | Research Festival 2021

This event took place on 2 July 2021.

Oceans cover 70% of our planet and are vital to all life on earth. From a human perspective, we rely on the seas for food, resources, transportation, recreation, and livelihoods. But the health of our oceans is more severely challenged than ever before. What are the solutions to this global crisis?

As we consider the drivers that lie behind the impacts on our oceans, most of which originate on land, it is critical that we consider problems and solutions in parallel, respecting the inter-connected nature of the challenges using a systems-thinking approach.

The Marine Institute’s world-leading marine research adopts a whole-systems strategy across one of the largest portfolios of any institution in Europe, to develop and optimise positive interventions with expertise that underpins our commitment to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

This event showcased the complementary research from our experts to help secure a sustainable future of our oceans, spanning topics including climate change and offshore renewable energy; coastal storm impact and defences; habitat destruction and biodiversity; the blue economy in aquaculture and maritime cybersecurity; and the socio-political dimensions that explicitly link ourselves, the land and the seas.

We were delighted to welcome Tom Heap, freelance journalist and presenter of BBC's Countryfile and Costing the Earth, who shared his perspectives on the importance of a systems-thinking approach to addressing marine challenges, and chaired the panel discussion probing our researchers further on their areas of expertise.

This free event provided the opportunity to hear cutting-edge marine research from top academics who are making a real-world impact, with the opportunity for your questions to be answered during the panel discussion.

Who was this event for?
This event was of most interest to those whose work, study or research relates to marine conservation; biology; policy; renewable energy; autonomy and data science; cybersecurity; aquaculture; coastal engineering; composite materials; coastal processes; oceanography; shipping, navigation and logistics; and coastal communities.

It was also suitable for members of the public, schools, community groups and NGOs with a general interest in the marine environment.

 

Programme

13:00 | Welcome by Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the Marine Institute

13:05 | The importance of systems thinking for healthy oceans, Tom Heap, freelance journalist and presenter of BBC's Countryfile and Costing the Earth

13:25 | Exploring the whole system

A series of short discussions on how marine research excellence at the University of Plymouth addresses global challenges facing our oceans through a systems thinking approach. The 10 minute Q&A's will be facilitated by Tom Heap.

Topics will include:

10 minute Q&A

10 minute Q&A

10 minute Q&A

14:30 | Panel discussion chaired by Tom Heap, freelance journalist and presenter of BBC's Countryfile and Costing the Earth

Tom Heap poses questions to the academics on their interconnected research. Your questions submitted throughout the morning also may be addressed during this session.

15:15 | Round up and conclusion by Professor Richard Thompson OBE

15:30 | Event close

Tom Heap

Presenter of BBC's Countryfile and Costing the Earth

Tom Heap is freelance journalist who created and presents BBC Radio’s flagship climate change podcast ‘39 Ways to Save the Planet’. He is a regular presenter on BBC1’s Countryfile specialising in the more investigative films and has made many BBC Panorama documentaries on food, energy and the environment. 

Tom also hosts BBC Radio 4’s regular environment series ‘Costing the Earth’. Tom is a fervent supporter and ambassador for the international conservation charity ‘Whitley Fund for Nature’ and a founder of ‘The Western Front Way’ which is creating a path for peace along the whole of what was the Western Front.

Our speakers

World no.1 for marine impact

We are ranked first out of 379 institutions worldwide against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 14: life below water.

The award recognises the outstanding quality of our international marine research and teaching, as well as our efforts to reduce the impact of campus activities on the marine environment. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Learn more about the rankings