Better Ways of Monitoring Human Impacts

We’re researching the environmental  impacts from a wide range Energy and Resources activities in the sea  – from port developments and dredging, oil spills and ecotoxicology,  through to  desalination plants, climate change and ocean acidification. With ever increasing worldwide demands for energy, minerals resources and, increasingly, water from desalination, understanding how to manage and mitigate impacts from coastal energy and resources developments is going to become an important global challenge.

One of our main goals is to improve the way we learn about  human impacts on marine systems. Although monitoring is often done when large developments like  LNG export ports or desalination plants are built, unfortunately, many impact monitoring programmes are terribly inefficient, both financially and in the value of scientific information they actually produce.  With  research into better designs for monitoring programmes and new analytical tools like the rapid ecotoxicology methods we are developing, we hope to make difference to our understanding of human impacts and, ultimately, the way we learn about and manage the marine estate.

 

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Social Licence to Operate

The term Social Licence to Operate (SLO) is increasingly used to describe non-regulatory factors that mean enterprises like mining or oil and gas exploration have  (or don’t have) a smooth run with local communities – avoiding protests or other social actions that might hinder their progress.    In many ways, the absence of a SLO (people protesting, political conflict etc.) is much easier to recognise than when one is in place.

Craig teaches a course on Social Licensing (SERAG011), which is focussed on what a SLO is, why a SLO matters and how Energy and Resources companies can better engage with the community to develop their Social Licence. Our research in this area has a strong focus on businesses per se – how they function and what we/they can do to improve the way they interact with their communities, as well as the role of social media in communications with stakeholders.

 

Governance and Policy

This is a developing area of research for us, but broadly we are interested in how decisions about using (coastal) estate are made and, in particular, how environmental information feeds into this; for example, via Environmental Impact Assessment or Adaptive Management programmes. One project running is Holly Niner ‘s assessment of how marine biodiversity offsetting is being used in Australia.

As part of this programme, we collaborate with Peter Jones from Geography, UCL, who focusses on governance in Marine Protected Areas and is a second supervisor for Holly.  Locally at UCL Australia, Craig works with Visiting Professor Christine Trenorden, who has many years of experience in environmental governance as senior judge in the South Australian Environment and Resources Development Court, and teaches on both of Craig’s courses.