From plastic pollution to rising sea levels and acidification to over-fishing, the threats facing our oceans and coastal communities are well-known.
Now a major global research programme linking social and natural sciences together via innovative methods and approaches that will influence ocean health and governance for sustainability has been announced. The One Ocean Hub is one of twelve £20 million innovation hub programmes approved by the UK Research Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund to respond to the global challenge of ocean health and governance across borders.
The One Ocean Hub will involve more than 50 partners, including world-leading research centres, development organizations, community representatives, governments and multiple UN agencies. The aim of the ONE OCEAN HUB is to predict, harness and share equitably environmental, socioeconomic and cultural benefits from ocean conservation and sustainable use. It is an ambitious programme linking natural and social sciences, communities and ecosystems via inter- and transdisciplinary approaches.
Rhodes University plays a key implementing role in the One Ocean Hub as part of this international consortium of research, policy and practice partners co-leading two of the work packages, while Acknowl-EJ team members will serve on the board of the new programme, linking T-learning and environmental justice outcomes from the T2S programme in a new context.
Dr Dylan McGarry, Research Associate and Senior Researcher associated with the SARChI Chair in Global Change and Social Learning Systems in the Environmental Learning Research Centre, will be a co-lead on two of the programme components focusing on community engagement, arts-based enquiry and social learning. McGarry was a leading Early Career Researcher in the T-learning programme, where he completed post-doctoral studies, playing an active role in connecting the T-learning and Acknowl-EJ programmes. He was also actively involved in generating the One Ocean Hub concept and proposal with Strathclyde University partners, Professors Saskia Vermeylen and Elisa Morgera.
International Programme lead, Professor Elisa Morgera, Director of the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance with the Law School, said:
“Millions of people all over the world are entirely reliant upon the ocean for food, jobs and transport yet over-exploitation, competing uses, pollution and climate change are pushing ocean ecosystems towards a tipping point”.
The One Ocean Hub will bridge the current disconnects across law, science and policy to empower local communities, women and youths – who are particularly impacted by decision-making – to co-develop research and solutions.
The aim is to predict, harness and share equitably environmental, socioeconomic and cultural benefits from ocean conservation and sustainable use. The Hub will also identify hidden trade-offs between more easily monetized fishing or mining activities and less-understood values of the ocean’s deep cultural role, function in the carbon cycle, and potential in medical innovation.
Within the initial five years of the programme, the team hopes to advance an integrated and inclusive approach to ocean management at a national level in South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Fiji and the Solomon Islands that enhances the resilience of marine ecosystems and of vulnerable groups.
“We are very excited to be part of this multi-scalar inter-disciplinary project” said McGarry, noting that this programme builds on and contributes further to the T-learning and Acknowl-EJ partnership that was started during the Transformations to Sustainability research programme of the ISC.
“McGarry’s doctoral and post-doctoral research has produced methodologies and approaches to transformative learning, co-engaged research, activism and social change that attracted the attention of the international partners” says Distinguished Professor Lotz-Sisitka, SARChI Chair of Global Change and Social Learning Systems and T-learning research programme lead. This has led to his appointment as co-lead on two of the five programme components.
Professor Morgera from Strathclyde University said:
“Our aspiration is that decisions on the ocean will be informed by multiple values and knowledge systems and that the rights and worldviews of communities, women and youth will be recognised, valued and realised.”
Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI Champion for International and Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), said:
“The sheer scale and ambition of these Hubs is what makes them so exciting. They enable us to deliver a coordinated global response with UK researchers working in partnership with researchers, governments, NGOs, community groups and international agencies across developing countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for multitudes throughout the world and safeguard our planet for future generations.”
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. The One Ocean Hub will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans.