The sea is key to the UK’s security and prosperity

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A fleet of large naval ships

The UK’s security and prosperity strongly depends on the sea. This includes the stability of the global supply chain, freedom of navigation, protecting offshore and undersea infrastructures, naval power and forces projection, sea-based deterrence and addressing maritime crimes, such as illegal fishing. Yet sea blindness, i.e., a lack of understanding of the importance of the sea, characterises many decision-making processes.

My research unravels the maritime dimension of security at various scales, from the impacts of climate change on maritime criminality, to the role played by civilian and private maritime stakeholders in securing the Western control of the global maritime order in a period of geopolitical challenges. My research engages with policy stakeholders to raise awareness of the sea and helps address future challenges in the maritime domain that eventually impact on state, society and citizens.

How does this fit under the Security and Protection Science umbrella?

Elaborating and delivering solutions to today’s complex security challenges that affect people and societies requires contextualizing technological solutions within their human, social, political and geopolitical environments. With a focus on the maritime and naval dimension of security, my research connects science with (geo)politics and policy. Engaging with policy stakeholders, my research raises awareness of the sea for the UK’s security and prosperity, and addresses the security challenges that affect the maritime domain.

What are the challenges in this area?

There are two systemic challenges that act synergistically in the maritime domain and impact the UK’s defence, security, and prosperity:

The first is the challenge to the stability of the global maritime order, around which I have submitted evidence of my research to the House of Lords.

The aggressive revisionism of the status quo of the post-Cold War European order by Putin’s Russia and the assertiveness of the People’s Republic of China indicates an impending global leadership challenge by agents of authoritarianism.

Leadership of the global maritime order grants a strategic advantage to the West. In addition to naval preponderance that enables global power projection capabilities, the West exercises leadership over maritime institutions, maritime insurances and major shipping companies. This contributes to Western control of the global supply chain.

The UK’s ability to contribute to upholding freedom of navigation, to lead maritime institutions and to influence the private maritime sector is key to a stable and rules-based maritime order.

The second is around the impacts of climate change on maritime security, on whichI have submitted evidence to the House of Commons.

My research has shown that climate change is a maritime “threat multiplier”: the effects of climate change on natural systems (e.g. sea level rise, ocean salinity, sea temperature, extreme weather events as well as resulting variations in the quantity and distribution of fish stocks) impact on human systems (for example, poverty, food shortages, health). Consecutively, this fuels resentment and grievance and creates incentives and opportunities to engage in maritime crimes (e.g. piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking).

What is happening far away from the UK eventually impacts on Britain’s security, via disruption of freedom of navigation, illegal immigration and people smuggling. This will also impact on the maritime sector’s business continuity and ability to operate in a safe and stable environment.

What projects are you working on at the moment to explore these challenges?

A project I am currently working on involves mapping the additive, multiplicative and synergistic links between climate change and maritime insecurity to identify areas most impacted, and devise solutions to address maritime crimes and insecurity, in a targeted way.

Another is looking at addressing sea blindness by studying the way the sea and maritime affairs are represented by media and public actors, how the sea is perceived by public opinion, and how communication strategies can improve awareness of the importance of the sea for security and prosperity.

What results and outcomes have you found so far from this project? How might your findings affect/benefit the following groups?

In addition to the contribution I make to academic knowledge in the field of maritime security and sea power, I strive for my research to contribute to raising public awareness of the sea and of its critical importance for the UK’s security and prosperity.

What are the areas of research you wish to promote?

With the impending global leadership challenge, who controls the global sea lanes of communication and who controls the global supply chain will become one of the key determinants of international relations and security. The ability of the West to invest necessary resources to maintain its maritime preponderance is crucial. For the UK, there are three priorities: 1) Acknowledging the centrality of the sea for the UK’s security and prosperity and prioritising this policy area. 2) Collaborating with like-minded states in order to assure the stability of the global maritime order. 3) Invest in cutting-edge technologies that impact operations in the maritime domain.

How can people get involved in this research/find out more?

You can read the following articles I recently published:

You can also contact me by email at

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