One Ocean Hub unites to adapt to immediate, unexpected and significant budget reduction

Significant reductions to the overall UK Government Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget have reverberated shockwaves around the sector since they were first indicated in 2020. This shock has been keenly felt in the Research for Sustainable Development community in recent weeks. The Hub’s funder, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has had to make immediate and substantial budget reductions to ODA-funded programmes. The cuts affect their Global Challenges Research Fund portfolio of approximately 800 projects, and the request to the One Ocean Hub has been to cut 70% of its budget in 2021. 

“Delivering a £3.6m budget reduction, across 21 partners, in 10 different countries, in just three weeks has tested the strength of the partnerships and the commitment to the goals of the Hub. Undoubtedly, momentum in our focus country has been challenged and areas of research critical to international processes and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals have been placed under threat. But the solidarity and support demonstrated by our partners in focusing on selected strategic activities, have allowed us to maintain a strong foundation for an adaptive, living Hub. We have thus identified areas where further cross-regional and international benefits could still be delivered with additional support from funders who recognise the urgency and importance of transformative ocean research and the need to demonstrate global leadership at this critical juncture in the planet’s future”, Hub Director, Prof Elisa Morgera says.

After reviewing the proposed changes and assessment of unintended consequences in accordance with the Hub’s Code of Practice, the Hub’s Advisory Board noted that it “has been highly impressed with the One Ocean Hub’s approach to the cut which ensured fair partnerships, safeguarded early career researchers and protected activities that are already making an impact in ODA-receiving countries while contributing to global goals (notably climate change, biodiversity and human rights) which are integral to the maintenance of international peace, security and development”.