Innovative research for climate adaptation at the ocean-climate-human rights nexus

By Senia Febrica

In  the run up to the UN Climate Summit COP26, the Hub’s funder UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) has held a series of events on COP26 Adaptation and Resilience to showcase research that is collaborative, locally led, globally relevant and aligned to the UK COP26 presidency’s theme on adaptation and loss and damage. The UKRI has just published the report of this global event series, titled ‘Tackling climate change: adaptation and resilience opportunities’. This blogpost outlines the One Ocean Hub researchers’ contributions to this initiative.

The UKRI report highlighted the Coastal Justice Network in South Africa as an exemplary way to open dialogue, co-define challenges and co-develop potential solutions with stakeholders as an innovative and integrated research method and case study for adaptation and resilience (UKRI, 2022: 43). The Coastal Justice Network brings together small-scale fisher leaders from 13 cooperatives and other fisher organisations with researchers and legal professionals in South Africa to advocate for fishers’ wellbeing and protect their human rights.

The ‘Oceans and Climate’ section of the UKRI report is dedicated solely to Hub-led event ‘Ocean and Climate Change: Building Adaptation, Mitigation, and Resilience’ (held on 27th  September 2021). The report highlights the following key messages from the presentations delivered at the One Ocean Hub led event:

  • Innovative research on ecosystems models and integration of socio-economic and cultural data can support decision-making on climate change and the ocean, to enhance adaptation and resilience for vulnerable ocean communities and ecosystems. This will help to remove barriers between biodiversity and climate change policy development (e.g. models to predict the impact of climate change on different species – biomass and spatial distribution, simulation of management actions, cumulative impacts and outcomes of management.
  • The integration of different knowledge systems in System Dynamic Models (including indigenous and local knowledge) can help to develop scenarios and discuss different possible outcomes of adaptation policy interventions.
  • Community-based climate adaptation (e.g. oyster farming) in Ghana can support sustainable fisheries, as well as address socio economic and cultural issues in the small-scale fisheries sector in particular.
  • Collaboration must be strengthened at the local, regional and global scales, across countries and conventions, to inform adaptation solutions for ocean communities and ecosystems as these are all interlinked by the ocean.
  • Human rights to life, health, food, water and culture depend on a healthy ocean. Guidance adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity around the nexus between biodiversity, climate change and the ocean can support the protection of human rights and help to consider trade-offs and co-benefits of potential solutions (UKRI, 2022: 60).

One Ocean Hub researchers have contributed to a range of events organised as part of the UKRI Adaptation and Resilience series:

  • Hub Director Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde, UK) participated in the Global Launch event of the UKRI series on 3rd June 2021;
  • Hub Deputy Director Bernadette Snow (University of Strathclyde, UK) participated in the ‘Pan-Africa Launch event’ on 29th July 2021 and ‘West and South Africa event’ on 8th October 2021;
  • Benjamin Kofi Nyarko and Emmanuel Acheampong (University of Cape Coast, Ghana) participated in the ‘East Africa’ event on 27th August 2021;
  • Murray Roberts (University of Edinburgh, UK), Lynne Shannon and Kelly Ortega-Cisneros (University of Cape Town, South Africa), John Ansah, Gina Yaa Oduro, and Emmanuel Acheampong (University of Cape Coast, Ghana), Elisa Morgera, Bernadette Snow and early-career researcher Mitchell Lennan (University of Strathclyde, UK) participated in the ‘Ocean and Climate Change: Building Adaptation, Mitigation, and Resilience’ event on 27th September 2021.
  • Dr Senia Febrica (University of Strathclyde, UK) participated in the Final Event on 15th December 2021.

Photo: Elisa Morgera