£198,000 grant will give coastal communities a voice on ocean justice

Busy port with multi-coloured comtainer ships and cranes

Lancaster University has been awarded a £198,453 Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust to investigate coastal communities’ understanding of ocean justice.

The project led by Dr Celine Germond-Duret from the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, is entitled ‘Ocean Justice and the Blue Economy’.

The ‘blue economy’ gained popularity after the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

Endorsed and promoted by Small Island Developing States, it results from an increased interest in the marine environment and in extending the green economy into the ocean.

Defined as the sustainable pursuit of economic activities resulting from the exploitation of coastal and marine resources, the blue economy concept has raised both hope and concerns; hope that environmental protection will be at the heart of (economic) activities at sea; and concerns that it will facilitate the further unsustainable exploitation of coastal and marine resources.

Small-scale fishers, women and indigenous groups are particularly at risk of social injustice and dispossession by blue economy initiatives such as conflict over spatial zoning for marine renewable, exclusion of women from decisions on marine tourism initiatives, denial of traditional tenure rights.

However, the social dimension of the blue economy has been overlooked and national blue economy strategies often fail to incorporate people’s visions and aspirations and omit the question of justice.

This in part results from knowledge gaps about the connection between coastal communities and the marine environment, their sense of place and belonging, their challenges and aspirations, and their own notion of ocean justice. Research has so far remained quite conceptual and only a few studies have given a voice to coastal communities and investigated their views on ocean justice.

This research project addresses this shortcoming and puts underrepresented voices at the heart of marine knowledge.

Using innovative methodologies of participatory research (such as photo-elicitation – using photographs and other visuals to stimulate reflection and discussion), it investigates how ocean justice is understood by coastal communities in different socio-cultural contexts, and what commonalities and differences exist between these socio-culturally different case-studies.

Dr Germond-Duret said: “Few studies have given a voice to coastal communities to hear their views on ocean justice. Redressing this shortcoming fits with efforts to decolonise knowledge of the sea.

“It also fits with Lancaster University Politics, Philosophy and Religion Department’s new Ethics, Values and Policy Initiative.”

Back to News