University of Edinburgh: Ocean scheme to amplify coastal community voices

The Ocean Voices programme aims to promote more sustainable management of the oceans by delivering training, building partnerships and supporting interdisciplinary research.

It is a partnership between the University and the Nippon Foundation, which has committed $700,000 for the first year of the scheme and will support it over the next five years.

Community voices
Up to 25 people from coastal communities around the world will be awarded fellowships as part of the programme, to help increase the diversity of voices involved in international ocean science and policy.

Fellows will be involved in developing policy, the publication of research findings and the wider communication of key developments.

The scheme will also help forge new international partnerships between researchers and policymakers, support research to identify barriers and pathways to ocean conservation and sustainable use, and provide skills training for PhD students and researchers.

We are delighted to announce that we will be supporting Dr. Harriet Harden-Davies, one of the outstanding alumni of our capacity development program, who will be starting “The Nippon Foundation – University of Edinburgh Ocean Voices.” Since 1988, the Nippon Foundation has committed to supporting the development of professionals in ocean and maritime fields. It is our belief that if problems surrounding the oceans, which support human life are left unchecked, they will one day have a serious impact on the survival of the human race. To date, more than 1,500 experts have been trained in 150 countries around the world. We consider our Fellows as part of our family, and we want to keep in touch with them throughout their lives, even after their fellowship has ended. We strongly hope that all future members of the Ocean Voices program will also take advantage of the network of marine research institutes and marine scientists that the Nippon Foundation has supported over the years. It is my hope that we can work together for many years to come in order to ensure we can preserve a healthy ocean for the future generation.

Yohei Sasakawa
Chairman, The Nippon Foundation
UN endorsement
Ocean Voices has been officially endorsed by the United Nations as a scheme supporting the objectives of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

The UN campaign aims to act as a global framework to reverse declines in ocean health and unite stakeholders to help improve conditions for sustainable development of the oceans.

I am delighted to announce this new partnership with the Nippon Foundation to deliver the Ocean Voices programme as a key contribution to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. This major new initiative will ensure that the voices and insights of diverse and globally distributed stakeholders are at the forefront of shaping context-appropriate solutions to the challenges faced by the ocean and coastal communities. This vision aligns with our University’s strategic commitment to work in partnerships to address the great challenges of our time, and will build on and extend our proud history of research, teaching and impact on ocean issues. I welcome Dr Harriet Harden-Davies to the University as the new Ocean Voices Director, and look forward to working with her and our partners at the Nippon Foundation.

Professor Peter Mathieson
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Marine expertise
The new programme will be hosted in the School of GeoSciences, and is one of the first to be supported by the recently announced Edinburgh Earth Initiative. The initiative – formed in 2021 – aims to help deliver effective solutions to combat the climate crisis by drawing on strengths from across the University and working with global partners.

Ocean Voices builds on the University’s longstanding reputation for impactful marine research and teaching, and other schemes focused on improving ocean sustainability.

These include the Edinburgh Ocean Leaders programme, an initiative to accelerate the development and influence of future leaders in ocean sustainability. Hosted by the University, it is supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Baillie Gifford.

Dr Harriet Harden-Davies, the incoming director of the Ocean Voices programme, was part of the inaugural cohort of six Ocean Leaders selected in 2020.

People, partnerships and policies will determine the outcome of the UN Ocean Decade. Working with our partners worldwide, the Ocean Voices Programme stands ready to develop capacity for better ocean stewardship. Our research, science diplomacy network, and Fellowship programme will connect scientists, local communities and policymakers to address the most pressing challenges to securing a sustainable and equitable ocean.

Dr Harriet Harden-Davies
Director, Ocean Voices programme