It was a pleasure to attend this year’s Coastal Futures 2020 Conference, which was based in the Royal Geographical Society in Central London. This year’s theme was Climate Change, and the first set of presentations heavily focused on adaptation, communication and the calls to action in the fight against the global climate crisis.
For many young people and early career researchers it can be frustrating to watch as our planet declines, in health and nature. However, Coastal Futures’ unique take on the marine sphere, and its marriage of academic and government perspectives, reveals how much climate change thoughtfulness has crept into academic and political systems.
Sessions were given by researchers, managers, governmental agencies and non-governmental bodies to address marine plans, new research and spatial. It was inspiring to hear Pamela Buchan’s dive into Marine Citizenship. She revealed how mixed method approaches can reveal qualitative and quantitative insights into human behaviour in the marine environment. Professor Steve Simpson gave insights into what an overfished reef sound like. (Spoiler alert: it’s very quiet compared to live reefs!) Richard Benwell spoke up about the Environment Bill and its lack of marine conditions. Another highlight was the Environment Minister’s, Rebecca Pow, speech about the importance of our coast line and the marine environment. Some speakers were explicit in their address of climate change, while others spoke truthfully about their research and anthropogenic impact to the environment.
Coastal Futures feels like a special event where members of key UK research and political bodies gather and present their novel methods and new developments. I left London feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis and the work that needs to be done. However, I am also energized to contribute towards a governmental system that protects our environment in full. I hope that in future more students can benefit from the Coastal Futures conference and see the benefits of interdisciplinary and wholistic collaboration, across departmental lines.