New resilient coastal communities and seas network announced

The University of Leeds will collaborate on a £2m national network to generate knowledge, action and resilience for UK coastal communities and seas.

The COAST-R Network is part-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under their Resilient Coastal Communities and Seas programme. It’s part of a £14.8m investment in place-based research projects to enhance resilience, wellbeing and sustainability across the UK.

Suraje Dessai, Professor of Climate Change Adaptation at the School of Earth and Environment and Deputy Director for Policy Engagement at the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures, will chair COAST-R’s Strategic Advisory Board.

The COAST-R Network involves academic teams from the Universities of Leeds, Hull, Glasgow, Liverpool, Southampton and Aberystwyth University, as well as coastal and marine partners and communities across all four UK nations.

Together, they will work to generate and share learning across sectors and disciplines to build UK coastal and marine resilience. 

Professor Dessai said “Our coasts and coastal communities are vulnerable to both climate change and socio-economic change. This Network will create a community of practice that brings together coastal communities, researchers and public, private and third-sector coastal organisations.

“We will embed our experience and learning from the UK Climate Resilience Programme within the COAST-R Network. This network is critical to enhance the resilient management of UK coastal seas and communities.”

The COAST-R Network has five key objectives: 

  • Share learnings and best practices across sectors and disciplines, to build UK coastal and marine resilience;  
  • Co-design a range of events, training and mentoring to improve partnership working and nurture the next generation of resilience champions;  
  • Work in partnership with coastal communities and other partners to identify and respond to priority needs using our Flexible Fund;  
  • Collate key insights, case studies and resources through our website and other outputs;  
  • Build ongoing practitioner and community-led evaluation on the activities of the Network and funded projects, to shape future learning, legacy and funding opportunities. 

The Network is part of the UKRI Strategy, “Transforming Tomorrow Together”, which will see a £24.3m boost to the UK’s environmental resilience through place-based research projects. Four large projects funded under UKRI’s Resilient Coastal Communities and Seas Programme will shortly be announced, as well as projects researching place-based approaches to an environmentally sustainable future.  

The Network is jointly funded by UKRI, through Creating Opportunities, Improving Outcomes, alongside the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), National Environment Research Council (NERC) and the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Creating Opportunities, Improving Outcomes is one of UKRI’s strategic themes. Its aim is to improve outcomes for people and places across the UK by identifying solutions that promote economic and social prosperity.

The scheme:

  • Builds upon existing funding that UKRI is already investing in addressing regional inequalities, through initiatives like the Strength in Places fund.
  • Is designed to address regional inequalities, through genuine, cross-disciplinary working and thinking, both in terms of sectors and delivery partners.
  • Research will go beyond ‘findings’ and create genuine, workable solutions to health, economic and wider disparities.
  • Like all UKRI’s strategic themes, this will help address the biggest threats facing our communities.