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Supported Projects

We promote the active collaboration between nations, disciplines, programmes, researchers and stakeholders to ensure knowledge is generated in partnership with society and users of science. We partner with individuals, programmes, projects and organisations to contribute to our vision and research priorities and goals for engagement and capacity building.

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Coastal Governance: Embracing Vulnerability and Change

This project aims to discover innovative coastal governance approaches  that embrace vulnerability and change. This is critical because current  coastal management approaches are failing as existing threats intensify  and novel threats emerge. New knowledge is expected to be generated on  diverse vulnerabilities, with insights furthering the theory and  practice of coastal management.

This is significant to advancing the  disciplines of human geography and public policy through improved  understanding of the relationships between people, place and change.  Governance innovations are expected to support ongoing economic,  environmental, social and cultural benefits that are derived from the  coast.

The project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects Funding Scheme (Project FT180100652). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Australian Government or Australian Research Council.

Main Contact:

Professor Tim Smith, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Coastal Pollution Toolbox

The Coastal Pollution Toolbox is a digital working environment and tool set to study contaminant, nutrient and carbon dynamics in temperate and polar coastal zones. It allows to structure investigations and to provide scientifically sound assessments and products to elucidate origin, effects, and mitigation options. Thereby, it targets to support management of chemical entities for a cleaner ocean.

The toolbox seeks to support the SDG implementation process. The UN-Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development aims at improving the environmental status of the oceans. As SDG #14 specifically addresses the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources, and as it targets to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds by 2025, the Coastal Pollution Toolbox guides management of land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, towards coastal sustainability.

In order to solve the contradiction that exists between some areas of the SDG implementation process, the development of the toolbox emphasizes the interactions between goals, such as SDG #14 and SDG #13 (“climate action”), and SDG #7 (“ubiquitous, affordable, reliable clean and modern energy”). In addition, pollution research in the area of urban air quality and the role of shipping emissions considers health effects and human’s exposure, and therefore supports to achieve SDG #11 („sustainable cities and communities”). Research is carried out based on studying multiple stressors and cumulative effects of marine activities, causing pollution, at the coast and in the sea.

To provide solution-oriented research in support of meeting the grand challenges of societal concern, an interdisciplinary and international group of researchers will contribute to the development of the toolbox by using user-centred and participatory co-design processes over the upcoming seven years.

Main Contact:

Prof. Ralf Ebinghaus, Dr. Marcus Lange, Hereon Institute of Coastal Environmental Chemistry, Geesthacht, Germany

Nunataryuk – Permafrost thaw and the changing Arctic coast, science for socio-economic adaptation.


Permafrost coasts in the Arctic make up 34% of the world’s coasts and represent a key interface for human-environmental interactions. These coasts provide essential ecosystem services, exhibit high biodiversity and productivity, and support indigenous lifestyles. At the same time, this coastal zone is a dynamic and vulnerable zone of expanding infrastructure investment and growing health concerns. Climate warming is affecting this fragile environment by triggering coastal landscape instability and increased hazard exposure.

A high proportion of Arctic residents live near permafrost coasts and many derive their livelihood from marine resources. They will be directly impacted by rapidly changing conditions at the Arctic coast. Permafrost thaw will lead to destabilisation of infrastructure and natural resource extraction facilities , directly impacting the economy. Greater fluxes of sediment and organic matter from coastal erosion could impact the nearshore ecosystem, including aquatic resources . Permafrost thaw has also been shown to play a role in the health of Arctic coastal communities through changes in water quality and through the potential release of contaminants, frozen bacteria and anthrax. Yet, all of these issues have so far been considered in isolation because of the lack of data for Arctic coastal regions.

The pressing challenge is therefore to quantify and project organic matter, sediment and contaminant fluxes from thawing coastal and subsea permafrost and to accurately assess the implications of permafrost thaw for the indigenous populations, the local communities and the local environment in the Arctic coastal areas. The main goal of Nunataryuk is thus to determine the impacts of thawing land, coast and subsea permafrost on the global climate and on humans in the Arctic and to develop targeted and co-designed adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The overall strategy of the Nunataryuk project is to transdisciplinarily bring together high-ranking European and international specialists of the Arctic coast, including natural scientists and the major European socio-economic science groups in order to address these pressing challenges. The project will be a user-driven directly addressing the concerns of local and global stakeholders with regards to permafrost thaw in coastal areas of the Arctic. Nunataryuk will use a conceptual framework inspired by the IPCC report on risks and by the experience gained from interaction with local stakeholders over the past decades. Permafrost thaw is the core focus of Nunataryuk and will be used as the common thread for early consultations with community representatives and other stakeholders.

Main Contact:

  • Prof. Dr. Hugues Lantuit, Adjunct Professor University of Potsdam, Institute for Earth and Environmental Science
  • Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam | Germany

DKN Working Group - Anticipating and Transforming Coastal Futures

DKN Working Group

In this working group we aim to think about and outline positive futures for tropical coasts. We argue that there is need for a radical new recognition of a diversity of scientific disciplines, combined with a broader range of knowledges, authentic and fit-for purpose engagement with, and embedding of science within, society, and an entire new ontology of anticipating the future state of the coast, or coastal futures. We need a new science agenda for achieving a desirable and sustainable future of the coast.

The working group draws on the diversity of its members for a systematic dialogue on learning from different inter- and transdisciplinary examples in practice across institutional boundaries. It critically reflects on how transdisciplinary sustainability science focused on the coastal and marine environment is approached within the German research community and examines the conditions for epistemological and ontological pluralism and effective transdisciplinary coastal research in a global context. It will make recommendations for approaches and methods, stakeholder engagement at the science-policy-interface, actionable outcomes, and human capacity development.

Research questions considered by the DKN Working Group include:

  • What is the current state of transdisciplinary approaches in coastal research and how is transdisciplinary research hindered or enabled by research funding?
  • How can we integrate scientific effort and knowledge production in the seamless landscape from land to ocean with the coast as an interface, between diverse disciplines and sectors, and between science and society?
  • What are gaps and priorities in actionable coastal research, its uptake by society and within policy? What is the science agenda for a sustainable future coast that also acknowledges multiple, overlapping and often conflicting demands and values in coastal communities?
  • What are the research practices required to pursue the proposed research agenda in a way that demonstrates authentic, just and agile transdisciplinary engagement with various stakeholders?

Main Contact:

Dr. Sebastian Ferse, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Germany

FEC on Advisory Boards


Science for a better future of the Baltic Sea Region | The BONUS vision is for an economically and ecologically prosperous Baltic Sea region where resources and goods are used sustainably and where the long-term management of the region is based on sound knowledge derived from multidisciplinary research.

Ocean and Coastal Observations for Societal Benefit

GEO Blue Planet is a network of ocean and coastal-observers, social scientists and end-user representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups, including international and regional organizations, NGOs, national institutes, universities and government agencies. Our experts have a demonstrated capacity to bridge the gap between data and services to deliver usable information that supports informed decision-making toward reaching sustainable development.


Copernicus Evolution – Research for harmonised and Transitional water Observation (CERTO) | Water quality is a worldwide issue affecting food production, industry, nature, recreation and ultimately human wellbeing. Satellites offer a cost-effective solution to monitor water quality at a global scale. A variety of methods and approaches are currently used for different water bodies such as oceans and lakes. CERTO will provide a harmonised capability to monitor water quality from lakes, through deltas, coastal waters and to the open ocean. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.