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Creating a vision to guide development of a sustainable ocean future: the Future Seas 2030 initiative
by Centre for Marine Socioecology (Academic institution)
The Future Seas project develops evidence-informed scenarios of the future in 2030, for each of 12 Key Challenges facing the world's oceans. The project then generates a tangible plan for possible actions at local, regional and global scales to undertake to achieve the 2030 vision most in line with an equitable and sustainable future.

Participants: Future Seas is a unique collaboration, spearheaded by the Centre for Marine Socioecology, of over 100 researchers from the University of Tasmania (UTAS), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other institutions. Within UTAS, members come from the Colleges of Arts, Law and Education, Health and Medicine, and Sciences and Engineering. The collaboration includes psychologists, public health and education experts, philosophers, ecologists, oceanographers, climate modelers, economists, social scientists, engineers, information and communications technology researchers, as well as governance, law and policy experts. Approximately 40% of the Future Seas group are PhD students and Early Career Researchers, providing an excellent opportunity to train the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers with the skills, experience and expertise necessary to help address some of the complex interdisciplinary challenges faced by society today. In addition to the Australian-based researchers, 12 Indigenous Leaders and Traditional Knowledge Holders from around the world are leading the drafting of their own key challenge for the oceans, as well as contributing much needed perspectives to the other challenges.

Approach: Future Seas uses a strategic technique called Foresighting to develop evidence-informed plausible scenarios of the future by 2030, for each of the challenges. The scenarios include what the future would look like if current trends continue, and also what our future could look like if we more effectively used the data and knowledge currently available to us, and pushed as far as possible towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We then use Backcasting (i.e. working backwards from the desirable future) to generate a tangible plan for possible actions to undertake at local, regional and global scales, if society chose to work towards the future more in line with the UN SDGs. We take a broad and interdisciplinary look at what processes have been and could be effective for leveraging change. Uniquely, in addition to management, policy and governance actions, our collaboration is exploring what approaches have been used in Psychology, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Public Health for human behaviour change across all levels of intervention. The field of psychology has generated a body of evidence about the design and efficacy of behaviour change interventions for individuals, organisations and communities. This research has mainly been applied to health literacy and behaviours, however, the principles and mechanisms inform models of change that can be applied to other real-world challenges, such as marine environmental issues. The field of ICT has informed measurement of human behaviour, cognition and environmental psychology perspectives that underpins technology enabled behaviour change. Psychology is also moving increasingly in synergy with the fields of computing and technology to maximise the reach, innovation and sustainability of change interventions, whether they be programs for individuals or whole communities.
Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
Type of commitment
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information
Type of commitment
By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
Type of commitment
By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism
Type of commitment
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
Graphical representations of all challenges and their associated alternate futures
Website detailing Future Seas project
Special issue in Reviews in Fish Biology & Fisheries
Financing (in USD)
50,000 USD
Staff / Technical expertise
Research expertise provided by 115 collaborators
Basic information
Time-frame: 11/18 - 12/20
University of Tasmania (Academic Institution) Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Government)
Ocean Basins
  • Global
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Kirsty Nash, Dr, kirsty.nash@utas.edu.au,
Hobart, Australia
Other SDGs
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