Expert Couplet for the East of England
The East of England Coastal Initiative is an innovative, multi-agency project that responds to a number of long-term challenges facing the region’s coast:
- The coexistence of high quality environments with areas in need of regeneration and greater economic opportunity, and the need to understand the possibilities and tensions that this situation creates;
- The additional pressures presented by climate change – along a coast that is particularly vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise – and the need to identify ways in which the coast and its communities can adapt;
- The need for more cohesive approaches to coastal management and for improved policy integration, so that we can respond effectively to these challenges.
To tackle these issues the initiative is focusing on five areas of work:
- Integrating and improving the processes we use to make decisions about the coast
- Ways of enhancing the effectiveness of community engagement in these processes
- Improving the evidence base for considering coastal futures
- Providing an input to policies for the coast
Managing the implementation (and implications) of decisions about the coast
The Initiative is working closely with central government departments (through the involvement of the Government Office) to highlight issues and test proposals. The work is also linked to a wider European programme (IMCORE) which aims to develop and test out possible coastal adaptation policies in different geographic areas by forming partnerships between academic thinkers, policy-makers and practitioners.
To be successful, the Initiative is aiming to achieve the following:
- Better communication about coastal issues amongst practitioners and others with an interest in the region, potentially through a coastal network or forum;
- A robust shared evidence-base to inform policy, process and communications;
- Better understanding of coastal issues by communities through improved communication processes and outputs;
- Policy change at national, regional and local level where necessary;
- Effective models of adaptation developed which can be used beyond the region;
- Aligned and streamlined governance processes for managing coastal change.
By bringing together partners at the national, regional and local levels, the Initiative provides an important opportunity to consider the long-term future of our coast in an integrated manner.
More details can be found on the programme leaflet. CI leaflet
The Coastal Initiative has commissioned a variety of studies so as to properly understand the context for change, and therefore to make appropriate policy decisions:
- Coastal Initiative Socio-Economic Research:
- Who Decides? A study of governance processes across three coastal areas:
- Coastal Regeneration Research to consider the relationship between coastal regeneration and adaptation to climate change:
- A baseline analysis of socio-economic data for smaller coastal towns to augment work commissioned by Dept. for Communities and Local Governement:
The Coastal Initiative has held two stakeholder conferences and a number of workshops. Conference reports:
October 2008 CI Conference Oct 2008
February 2010 CI Conference 2010
The lessons learned from the coastal initiative have been compiled into a draft summary document presented in powerpoint format.
The partners have also compiled a draft action plan to guide the work of a wide range of institutions in relation to adaptation to climate change.
Together these documents form a wide ranging adaptation strategy for the area of the East of England.
Draft Summary Document draft-imcore-coastal-initiative-key-findings
Draft Action Plan coastal-initiative-draft-action-planv1-02
Influencing Government policy
During the course of the Coastal Initiative the English Government has issued consulktation processes and policy documents which have been strongly influenced by the Coastal Initiative’s work:
Planning for Coastal Change:
Adapting to coastal change:
In contrast to these technical approaches, CoastNet established mechanisms to raise awareness and stimulate debate amongst politicians. An All Party (non-political) Parliamentary Group was supported and debates and investigations enabled regarding coastal climate change and adaptation issues. Follow the link for more details: http://www.coastnet.org.uk/appg
As these government policy reviews were undertaken, CoastNet was approached by a number of community groups which saw Adaptation to climate change as a threat. CoastNet advised them to form a national Forum, so as to be able to engage better with Government and its Agencies. The National Voice for Coastal Communities was formed and is supported by CoastNet. It is activly involved in the ongoing policy process. See: http://www.coastnet.org.uk/coastalchange
CoastNet’s contribution to the Coastal Initiative
CoastNet’s role in the Coastal Initiative partnership can be thought of as an ‘agent of change’. CoastNet’s focus has been in public involvement in policy. The aim has been to explore approaches to improving individual and community capacity to engage with the complex policy debates that are connected with adaptation to climate change in coastal areas. To this end a series of initiatives have tested a variety of approaches, each informing the next:
Holding Back the Tide discovered the inherent fascination of the coast for people, and their willingness to learn. It also showed that perspectives on coastal change differ very widely: http://holdingbackthetide.wordpress.com/
Jaywick: living on the edge and Our Coast explored the role of documentary film and film drama in communication of coastal change to a public audience:
Access Fingringhoe enabled us to explore new approaches to community engagement, focussing on local kbnowledge and hard to reach groups: http://accessfingringhoe.wordpress.com/
Our learning from these activities is now directed to two strands of work:
Reaching Jaywick. This is where CoastNet is applying the IMCORE approach to the production of an Adaptation Strategy. The scenario development process reported in ‘Who Decides?’ provided a scenario of ‘Locally integrated and negotiated solution’ which CoastNet is developing for Jaywick, with a particular emphasis on community-led actions.
- Reaching Jaywick activity blog http://reachingjaywick.wordpress.com/the-project/
- Jaywick Brighter Futures Plan http://schools.wearewhatwedo.org/users/profile/155529/
Coastal Literacy. In working with communities threatened by climate change, and in investigating their understanding and perspectives on adaptation we recognised a huge knowledge gap between the public and technicians, which was acting as a huge barrier to policy development and implementation. In response CoastNet developed and is now testing proposals for an approach to propoting a ‘coastal literate’ community. This work is supported in part through a UK Government programme and will feed back directly into the ongoing policy process. See link for more details: http://coastalliteracy.wordpress.com/about/
Fisheries and climate change
CoastNet have also been working with fishermen in Essex to support them in responding to climate change. Fisheries management tends to be treated separately for the general management of coastal places, because of the Common Fisheries Policy. We are interested to integrate fisheries, at least for inshore fishing operators, more fully into coastal policy. Our approach here is to see Fisheries and climate change as a regeneration opportunity. Currently, we are working on fisheries eco-labelling initiatives with the fishing community.