Research Festival 2022 levelling up
  • Online via Zoom

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Coastal communities face new and worrying patterns of deprivation across the UK, with challenges for peripheral communities extending across employment, skills and education attainment, social immobility, and public health. Despite the evidence of deprivation, there has been little investigation into the problems, their causes and potential solutions.
Evidence presented in the 2021 Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO’s) report suggests that coastal areas have some of the worst health outcomes in England, with low life expectancy and high rates of many major diseases (even after controlling for demography, deprivation and ethnicity).
In order to truly ‘level up’ Britain, it is crucial to have a better understanding of the problems and challenges those on the periphery face so that potential solutions can be effectively deployed to create dynamic, thriving coastal communities.
  • Are coastal communities receiving the research and investment they need?
  • Are they empowered to be heard in policy decisions?
  • What are the barriers to addressing the many complex challenges and how do we overcome them?
These are some of the thought-provoking questions posed by Professor Sheela Agarwal and Professor Sheena Asthana, who were joined by a prestigious panel of UK Government guests to open up dialogue between academics and policymakers.
In this event, you’ll find lively discussion intended to challenge your perceptions and ignite conversations and collaborations on how to address inter-linked and inter-sectoral problems.
The evening was facilitated by the University’s Centre for Coastal Communities, which contains extensive expertise across a spectrum of disciplines, from economics to education, health and social care to the blue economy and beyond. With strong collaborative links across public, private and third sectors, the Centre is uniquely placed to undertake relevant research to understand problems, co-create solutions and disseminate findings.
This event took place online using Zoom. It will be of most relevance to those in academia or policy with an interest in the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda from a variety of perspectives, including environment, housing, transport, public health, education, socioeconomics, and social mobility.
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16:00 | Welcome and introduction by the two Co-Directors of the Centre for Coastal Communities; Professor Sheela Agarwal, Professor of Tourism Management and Associate Head of Plymouth Business School for Research and Innovation, and Professor Sheena Asthana, Professor in Health Policy and Director of the Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR).
Roundtable panel discussions
The invited panel discussed five key questions, with each followed by a 10-minute audience Q&A. All the recordings of this roundtable event are now available to watch on YouTube, click on the individual questions to access these.
16:10 | The ‘left behind’ coast: is it time to refresh our mental maps?
Despite the growing evidence on the many challenges faced by coastal communities, discourse tends to view inequality as a North/South phenomenon. To what extent are the challenges facing our coastal communities captured in the Government’s levelling up agenda and policy programmes? 
16:40 | One coast: One voice?
The diversity of coastal communities presents a challenge in how to give them a voice and address their needs, given some coastal locations are ‘leading’ as thriving cities or cultural hotspots while many others are ‘lagging’. How should researchers and policymakers manage this diversity? Who can ensure those on the periphery are fairly represented and empowered to have their voices heard? 
17:10 | Inter-related problems: How do we create joined up solutions?
There are casual, dynamic relationships between key phenomena contributing to the challenges facing peripheral communities, which undoubtedly require inter-sectoral policy responses. What are the barriers to this join-up of government departments and what needs to happen for policymakers to prioritise the needs of coastal communities? 
17:40 | Break 
18:00 | The demise of regional development: Does place matter? 
Brexit has left a funding gap previously fulfilled by the European Structural Investment Funds, which the UK government has replaced with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Will UK funding continue to be urban-biased and how effective is a place-based approach to address spatial inequality and socio-economic disparities? Are coastal communities fairly represented in the Government’s Levelling Up Fund? 
18:30 | The future: next steps and solutions? 
According to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (2020), lockdown has incurred projected losses across all coastal towns, of around £17.9 billion in revenue.  This exacerbates the precarious economic position many coastal communities were already facing. What does the future hold for coastal communities? Are there lessons that could be learnt from elsewhere?
18:55 | Conclusion 

University of Plymouth speakers

This event responds to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

Centre for Coastal Communities

Finding solutions to the challenges facing coastal communities.

The challenges facing coastal communities are increasingly recognised, as new and worrying patterns of deprivation have materialised in peripheral coastal areas across the UK.

The University of Plymouth is one of the few UK Higher Education Institutions with a critical mass of academics with a proven track record of research on coastal communities.

Find out more about our research

Coastal Communities coastal definition, the Hoe, seafront, waves, Plymouth sound

Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research

The Plymouth Institute of Health and Care Research (PIHR) is a thriving community that conducts adventurous world-leading research with the explicit purpose of improving the health and care of the populations we serve. 
Our work is grounded in the needs of the people of the South West and other rural, coastal, and deprived communities worldwide, but PIHR’s research has national and international reach and impact. 
Find out more about the work of PIHR
People walking and talking in a modern setting.
Research Festival 2022 visual ID - web header

Research Festival 2022

24 June – 1 July
The annual Research Festival returned to celebrate curiosity and collaboration, showcasing leading work across disciplines. The week invited fellow academics, industry, policymakers, students and the public to understand how we are responding to global challenges with a systems-thinking approach to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Evolving into an extended edition that now encompasses the popular Sustainable Earth conference, the Research Festival welcomed attendees to hear about cutting-edge research from leading experts and keynote speakers, learning how your research or business could achieve greater impact through co-creation and collaboration, locally and globally.

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