How to make our diverse UK coastal areas more resilient

  • Date

    Tue 11 Jun 24

Arise project map

The complex challenges facing our diverse UK coastal areas will be the focus of a major new multi-million-pound project led by the University of Essex. The £2.9 million ARISE project – Advancing Resilience and Innovation for a Sustainable Environment – is one of four projects to receive a total of £14.8 million from the UKRI and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

ARISE will focus on the Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent coasts, which include communities from England’s highest and lowest levels of deprivation. This coastal region also has more inequalities in health, wellbeing, life expectancy, earnings and education compared to nearby inland communities.

Project Director Professor Gina Yannitell Reinhardt, from the University of Essex’s Department of Government, said: “Our coasts provide food, jobs, coastal protection, cultural enrichment and benefits to health and wellbeing.

“However, our UK coastal areas are facing increasingly complex, interrelated challenges from factors like climate change, population and infrastructure pressures and the cost-of-living crisis.

“We want this ARISE Toolkit to be a legacy, offering ways to confront and mitigate these pressures to help strengthen coastal community resilience and our collective ability to thrive after disruption and change.”

The project will initially implement 12 new initiatives on the English east coast – ranging from schemes such as educational outreach to civic engagement and arts-based events. Their local impact will then be evaluated to help develop a transferrable toolkit of best-practice which can be adapted to offer support and decision-making guidance to different coastal communities depending on their individual needs.

The aim of the project is to benefit policymakers, local communities, public managers, voluntary groups, researchers, landowners, businesses and residents along the entire UK coast.

The project team represents the Eastern ARC consortium and Professor Yannitell Reinhardt will be working with colleagues at Essex alongside partners at the universities of Aberystwyth University; Birkbeck, University of London; University of East Anglia; University of Kent; University of Manchester; and the University of Suffolk and also the Centre of Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.

“We are all delighted to be collaborating on this important project which will directly benefit coastal communities and the people who enjoy visiting them. We are also dedicated to forging a community of practice that can carry on this work,” added Professor Yannitell Reinhardt. “We will be able to advise policy makers and local organisations on how to continue helping communities fortify their resilience well beyond the life of our project.”

Director of Eastern ARC, Phil Ward, said: “Eastern Arc brings together our universities to work for the benefit of our region and the nation as a whole. Collaborating with other stakeholders within our region - local authorities, businesses, charities and other universities - offers a great opportunity to do even more, and ARISE is a great example of this. This is such an important project, and is central to one of our key priorities going forward: to address longstanding and future challenges facing our region. Gina has brought together an amazing team, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of the fantastic work they have planned.”

ARISE is part of the broader UKRI and DEFRA funded Resilient Coastal Communities and Seas programme. This programme funds 5 large strategic projects, including the COAST-R Network Plus headed by Professor Briony McDonagh at the University of Hull. Coordinated by COAST-R, all 5 projects will work to generate and share learning across sectors and disciplines so as to build UK coastal and marine resilience.

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