Anticipating and Transforming Coastal Futures

A new science agenda for achieving desirable and sustainable future of the coast

Coasts are more than the physical meeting points of ocean and land. They are rich in tangible and intangible values that are often contested, and coastal systems are not only unique but also tremendously complex. This complexity is a result of the convergence of cultural, social, economic and political considerations of both coastal communities and populations at large. The multitude of human activities depend on a range of ecosystem services of coastal systems. At the same time these human activities are productive of rapid social-ecological change, including through climate change and related impacts. This is particularly true for tropical coasts that are important habitats for the human (e.g. megacities) and non-human world (e.g. biodiversity hotspots). In this working group we aim to think about and outline positive futures for tropical coasts.

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 will critically reflect on how transdisciplinary sustainability science focused on the coastal and marine environment is approached within the German research community and examine 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 that the DKN Working Group will consider during the next two years 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?

The working group will convene a number of virtual and in-person meetings and workshops and exchanges with stakeholders over the next two years, and will work closely with the Future Earth Global Research Project, Future Earth Coasts (FEC).

Expected outputs:

  • Literature review and expert survey on transdisciplinary theory and practice in coastal research
  • Position paper to collect “requirements for transdisciplinary tools and make recommendations for methods and approaches, science-policy engagement and actionable research outcomes, and human capacity development."
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; German Research Foundation) roundtable meeting on “Anticipating and Transforming Coastal Futures” bringing together researchers, development practitioners and policy makers to develop a new agenda for transdisciplinary coastal research

Arbeitsgruppen SprecherInnen

Dr. Sebastian Ferse

Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Science Management Future Earth Coasts — Coral reef ecology — Social-ecological systems — Marine management —

E-mail contact

Dr. Louis Celliers

Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Climate Service Center Germany (GERICS) — Ocean and coastal governance and management — Tropical marine systems —

E-mail contact
Working Group Members