The GCRF Blue Communities Project was an interdisciplinary research program focusing on working with coastal communities in 4 case study sites located in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves/Marine Protected Areas in Southeast Asia to further develop their management of marine resources to sustainably promote food security and human health and well-being.
In Southeast Asia, millions of people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods and sustenance. Marine ecosystems provide vital services for the health of society, it is therefore essential for coastal areas to be managed well. At the same time, evidence-based decision-makers need tools and information to ensure the coastal environment does not receive excessive pressure from the multiple users from different sectors that need the resources and that activities are conducted in a sustainable manner.
Leading an evidence synthesis work package, the centre produced a systematic map of relationships between coastal resource management activities and human well-being in the region, and contributed to evidence as varied as the . Alongside this, the centre also contributed to novel efforts to combine ecological and social data to enhance understanding of trends in marine ecological quality.
The GCRF Blue Communities Project contributed to SDG 14 and provided essential evidence for the international 30 by 30 Initiative. This ambitious target commits Parties to effectively conserve and manage at least 30% of the global ocean (marine and coastal areas) by 2030, through a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs).
The project provided substantial capacity building for example, delivering in person and online training to researchers across the region in Evidence Synthesis methods, and established an active Early Career Researcher Network. As a result, teams of Early Career Researchers led the development of published Systematic Review related manuscripts, and have provided their own training in the Evidence Synthesis methods within their institutions. Some researchers have even brought the methods to new institutions in the region and have independently published manuscripts with the Evidence Synthesis skill set developed via Blue Communities.
ECEHH hosted researchers from the Philippines in the UK on placements, and were granted funding to hold in person Evidence Synthesis workshops in to solidify the Evidence Synthesis network.
The wider Blue Community team of researchers engaged with local communities in a wide range of media, including community song writing about environmental impact, a painted mural on future scenarios in coastal communities and numerous workshops and engagement events.