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Diverse values research wins funding

6 August 2021

Cardiff researcher awarded funding for an interdisciplinary project that will inform future marine policy.

Dr. Emma McKinley, co-investigator of the ‘Integrating Diverse Values into Management’ project, has been funded by the Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources Strategic Priorities Fund. The £12.4m initiative is dedicated to supporting marine research to address critical gaps in understanding that have been identified by UK policymakers.

The project, led by Professor Stephen Fletcher at Portsmouth University, aims to implement diverse values into decision-making by enhancing the transdisciplinary capability of the UK marine policy stakeholder and research community.

Diverse values include economic values, social and cultural values, aesthetic values, and natural values, and how they might be accounted for in decision-making frameworks.

Marine environments and human well-being are inextricably linked through complex socio-ecological systems that span terrestrial, coastal, and ocean domains. While this complexity is widely acknowledged in theory, current models of marine resource management practice do not adequately adopt the necessary transdisciplinary approaches to use diverse values or have the means to align them to decision making and policy development.

The transition to transdisciplinarity and diverse values is a challenge faced by marine science and policy communities worldwide and is acknowledged as a global science priority for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. It is a cross-cutting challenge that affects all marine management priorities. The inclusion of diverse values, particularly of a qualitative nature, into UK marine management processes is crucial, but at present is outside the experience, capability, and comfort zone of many institutions and individuals in the marine management research and practitioner community.

Working across three test study sites of New Haven, Upper Severn Estuary, and the Shetland Islands, the aims of this project are:

  • to generate a new conceptual basis for transdisciplinary marine management and research that allows multiple and diverse human values to be incorporated into marine management in the UK.
  • to synthesise existing ecological and economic data with new diverse values approaches (collected using methods from largely outside the marine community) to produce a ground-breaking transdisciplinary and holistic understanding of how coastal communities value marine resources and their management.
  • to evaluate, through on-the-ground testing, how diverse values can: 1) be used to unlock the potential of ocean literacy to become an actionable policy tool; and 2) be integrated into marine governance institutions and practices to unlock a step-change in sustainable outcomes.
  • to create and implement a national-scale transition plan to support the UK marine management and research community to mainstream transdisciplinary approaches.

The project legacy will be an increased understanding and implementation of diverse values into marine policy and decision making and the creation of transition plans for institutions to facilitate embedding transdisciplinary practices into the operations of organisations.

The project is one of six interdisciplinary projects that have been awarded funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the UK Research and Innovation under the Sustainable Management of UK Marine Resources programme.

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