The objective of this Societal Challenge is to anticipate the impacts of global change on oceanic and coastal systems and to develop pathways towards sustainable and equitable interactions with marine environments and their resources.
Occupying more than 70% of earth's surface, oceans are critical climate regulators and provide most of the life-supporting environment on the planet. Coastal areas have played a major role in the development of human societies and currently are home to billions of people who directly or indirectly depend on ocean ecosystems for their livelihoods. These ecosystems are vulnerable to natural and non-natural drivers of environmental change and their synergistic effects. These effects threaten not only how oceans regulate climate and safeguard the future of the planet, but also marine biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human populations that depend on them. This is particularly true for developing countries that rely on climate sensitive economies but have insufficient capacity to develop adequate climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Despite growing consensus that oceanic and coastal environments are vital for ecological sustainability and livelihoods, fundamental gaps in our knowledge prevent the full realization of this potential. There is still considerable uncertainty on how multiple drivers of environmental change, from millennial to decadal time scale, affect the function, structure and the services provided by these ecosystems and how coastal populations, especially socially vulnerable communities and/or traditionally disempowered groups e.g., women perceive and respond to changes in marine ecosystems.
Furthermore, in view of scarce policy responses to climate change and its impacts on ocean-based environments, there is a need to rethink governance models and frameworks to develop and implement adaptation responses from local to global scales that are both efficient and equitable.
In this Societal Challenge, we will integrate social and natural science-based studies to assess oceanic and coastal changes and propose transformative strategies for sustainable human-ocean interactions.
OCEANS challenge will bring together researchers from the IMPACTANT, MERS and LASEG.