What We Do

Our Themes

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Beyond Knowledge

Science communication and engagement, enhancing ‘ocean literacy’ for deeper understanding and attitudes that underpin behaviour and system change.

Using information, tools and empowering contexts to help people bridge the gap from good intentions to action, amplifying behaviour change to social change.

Enabling and encouraging businesses to achieve sustainable supply chains, and making it easier for people to make responsible choices.

Our Priorities

People Ocean Planet tackles major issues for the ocean environment. With our roots in the MASTS scientific community, credible science is fundamental to all of our actions. Where possible, we will measure our impact so that we can improve, adapt and expand our efforts.
The scope of issues covered by People Ocean Planet is broad. Our work will encompass actions on land that can help protect the ocean, as well as actions directly connected to the sea. The choices we make in our homes, shops, communities, fields and businesses combine to influence the future of the ocean – and therefore the planet.
Plastic waste is an important issue with which many people are increasingly familiar, its fate often in the ocean and on beaches – a very visual and symbolic reminder of our impacts.
Our ambition is to also tackle some of the less visible, out-of-sight and more intangible issues that also present a significant challenge to the marine environment.

Is it okay to influence people to make a change for the planet?

Efforts to influence people’s behaviour must adopt a clear code of ethics. People Ocean Planet is committed to scientific integrity, and to using a robust evidence base to inform and empower people without affecting their agency or free will. We must also be sensitive to different social, cultural and economic contexts across regions and communities, and will strive to avoid unintended consequences that exacerbate human inequality.
Behavioural change techniques are used widely in the public health and marketing sectors; People Ocean Planet will contribute to the growing movement for behaviour change that supports environmental goals. More often than not, the long-term context of sustainability provides a synergy between environmental, humanitarian, health and economic outcomes. People Ocean Planet wants a resilient future for people and nature to help society live within the capacity of the planet.

Climate change

This won’t be the only issue this initiative tackles, but it is the most pressing threat to the ocean, the planet, and humanity. It is also the one issue that exacerbates all other environmental problems. Healthy marine ecosystems also have huge potential to lessen the impacts of climate change on the wider planet.

Seafood Sustainability

Consumers, retailers, restaurants, fishers and many others in seafood supply and value chains can help drive positive change. Seafood is important for nutrition, food security and economies, but these can only be sustained if we live and work within the natural capacity of our ocean.

Deep Sea Mining

The technological boom is fuelling demand for metals and rare earth elements, from our electronic and electrical devices to our renewable technologies. Supplies on land are dwindling, our eyes now turning to the seafloor for these valuable commodities. However, shifts in resource efficiency and recycling of products that contain these elements can reduce the direct risk to the ocean as well as gain other efficiencies in manufacturing.

Pollution From Land

Many industries have improved their practices, but the run-off of chemicals, sediment and excess nutrients continues to cause problems in many coastal regions and is often exacerbated by climate change and habitat degradation. There is a role for regulation, corporate responsibility and nature-based solutions, but also for consumer preferences for low-impact items, including food, clothes and health products.

Knowledge is power

Ideally, we want change to be underpinned by a society that truly understand and care about the issues that face our planet – it is the people-based solutions that we need their help with. Behaviour change techniques can influence non-conscious choices and actions, and can lead to positive outcomes, but we believe that lasting change is more likely through conscious choice.

Behaviour change is a journey: knowledge will not always be enough to instigate that change but it is a precursor to shifts in our values and our attitudes – individually and culturally – paving the way for widespread change. These expressions of our knowledge and values also play out in democratic processes, providing governments with ‘social licence’.

There is particular value in raising awareness of the connectivity of our lives to ocean issues that are ‘out of sight’ – as it can be easy for us to ignore the consequences of our actions when they are hidden from view.

Spreading Positive Vibes

Positivity breeds success. To make better choices, people should feel optimistic and empowered, not shamed and antagonised. The stark reality from science may shock or agitate, but we must reflect our sense of hope for addressing these challenges.

As individuals, the changes we make might feel small – so it is important that everyone understands our collective power. Not only do our individual actions combine for a direct impact: they also catalyse more fundamental changes in businesses and governments. We can all be part of this, generating a positive impact that vastly exceeds the sum of its parts.

People Powered Change

People Ocean Planet will narrow the gap between science and action across society – from individuals to businesses and governments – all interacting, influencing and enabling wider change through a complex push and pull of incentives and ambitions.

By informing and encouraging each other, those we engage with will become more motivated – building optimism over our shared purpose. If we ‘socialise’ that purpose – through conversation, inclusivity and interactive media – we will amplify the ambition for change, tipping the balance towards widespread action. Insights from behavioural psychology and sociology can have a key role in this.

Change can also be accelerated by practical measures to ease sustainable behaviour, such as through the use of technology.

People Powered Change

Great things can come from defying convention and breaking down barriers. Nobody holds all the levers for change, but by working together – drawing on expertise from other sectors and disciplines – we have an opportunity to reach more people in new, engaging ways.

While tipping points loom, so does our ambition to acknowledge our impact on the planet. Forming new alliances across society, communities, research disciplines and company lines can help catalyse lasting behavioural change for all levels of society.

These cross-discipline collaborations are how we approach our own projects, but we also seek to enable others to do the same… helping to build a community of thought and practice for shared outcomes.