Category Archives: Projects


GCRF Blue Communities: Project 4 (Marine Renewable Energy)

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Project 4 case study site is located in Taka Bonerate Selayar Islands Biosphere Reserve, which was designated as a UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere site in 2015. The area is a mini archipelago of 130 islands in South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia with 60 village-level marine protected areas, covering 52 coastal villages, a national marine park, 11 sub-districts, 57 coastal Villages and 74 non-coastal villages.

With a total of 17,504 islands, Indonesia itself is the largest archipelago in the world. Its coasts and seas stores enormous potential, not only from a diverse range of marine ecosystem services, but also from their significant renewable energy resources. Whilst the national electricity company (PLN) has a mandate to supply all of Indonesia’s communities with a reliable and consistent source of electricity, it has significant challenges in achieving 100% coverage, particularly in remote areas. Many of these areas are inhabited by small maritime communities who live nearby marine energy potential that can be utilised to meet their local demand for electricity supply, as well as to meet their energy requirements for aquaculture, water desalination, ice production, and refrigeration, which are essential for their sustainable livelihoods.

The Project aims to investigate the possibility of, and introduce where appropriate, marine renewable energy systems as part of an integrated solution to obtaining Taka Bonerate-Selayar Islands’ local community welfare whilst protecting the natural ecosystem and mitigating the challenges of climate change. For this, baseline information on energy supply and demand, natural resources governance, and local businesses and supply chain have been gathered this year, and throughout the next 3 years Project 4 team members will continue to engage in participatory planning and action research with local community members, decision makers, government officials, local businesses, and academic partners to produce:

  • Identification report on Taka Bonerate Selayar Islands Biosphere Reserve’s energy demand-supply profile
  • Joint paper publication on marine renewable energy resources potential in Taka Bonerate Selayar Islands Biosphere Reserve
  • Training modules on approach to renewable energy assessment in remote communities
  • Training modules on marine renewable energy systems conceptual design in remote communities
  • Strategic report on marine renewable energy systems for Taka Bonerate Selayar Islands Biosphere Reserve
  • Strategic report on skills development needs to establish local business case and supply chain in Taka Bonerate Selayar Islands Biosphere Reserve
  • Strategic report on marine spatial planning recommendations for Taka Bonerate Selayar Islands Biosphere Reserve
  • Policy brief for Local Government Departments and Indonesia’s relevant Ministries
  • Joint paper publications on relationships between sustainable energy and resources management in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets

By Dr Leuserina Garniati, Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources Management, Universitas Nasional



GCRF Blue Communities: Project 2 Introduction

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Tropical marine and coastal ecosystems – coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses – are vital for the livelihoods, food security and well-being of millions of people in Southeast Asia. However, many families are locked in poverty as the marine resources that they depend on dwindle due to destructive practices, overharvesting and the deterioration of ecosystems. Clearly the current way we manage tropical marine resources is not working. We therefore need new or improved approaches to – or innovations in – marine management.

In Project 2 of Blue Communities, we are analysing promising marine planning models in three UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserves in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, and a large marine park in Malaysian Borneo. Using a newly designed Participatory Marine Governance Analysis toolkit, we are seeking to discover the ingredients of – and obstacles to – success so that we can find opportunities to improve management of these reserves and parks. And then share this learning across the reserves and parks, and more widely. By understanding this, we can reveal how the Blue Communities programme can add value to existing efforts and investments in marine management in the region.

Blue Communities researchers in each country invited key practitioners managing the reserves to be part of their project 2 team. The practitioners offer an insider’s perspective on the workings of the reserve and increase the chances that the findings of project 2 will be acted upon.

At an event in Kuala Lumpur, these practitioner and academic teams received training from UK researchers in participatory methods, which help those involved in implementing a new marine management approach to reflect on what has worked, what has not worked, and what could be done better in the future. Each team is now planning their research in their case study marine reserve.

The Western Philippines University (WPU) project 2 team began field activities in October 2018, studying the Environmental Critical Areas Network (ECAN) in the province of Palawan, an island in the west of the Philippines. Through the ECAN, the seas of Palawan are being designated as biologically important core zones, where human activity is prohibited, and multi-use zones, where limited small-scale fishing, mariculture, recreation and education and research activities are permitted. The team sought to learn from its implementation so far to support future zoning efforts.

A workshop was held with provincial level actors and a workshop in the municipality of Aborlan, which has been a frontrunner in implementing ECAN at the local level. Firstly, participants at each workshop conducted an innovation history analysis, whereby timelines of the establishment and implementation of ECAN were co-created by stakeholders, who then discussed what lessons could be learnt so far. Secondly, they mapped on flip chart paper the key people and organisations involved in or affected by ECAN, the important and challenging relationships between them, and created towers to represent how influential they perceived each actor to be on the successful implementation of ECAN. The team is currently analysing the results, but some previously unrecognised challenges were identified that are likely to have major implications for how ECAN is rolled out across marine areas of Palawan.

Fieldwork begins in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam over the next three months, with Project 2 research promising to make significant contributions to helping stakeholders in each case to understand issues with, and opportunities to improve, their current governance approaches. We hope for the teams to share what they have learnt from their cases with each other at the Blue Communities annual meeting in 2019.

By Dr Matt Fortnam, University of Exeter



GCRF Blue Communities: About The Programme

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Blue Communities is a 4 year research capacity-building programme for marine planning in East and South-East (E/SE) Asia, funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) of which the total value is £1.5 billion. The programme has 12 interconnected research projects, which will be actively integrated to support marine planning, and 10 cross-cutting capacity building activities.

Millions of people across the globe rely on marine and coastal ecosystems for their livelihoods: food, employment and their general well-being. However, the marine environment is under immense pressure from the multiple, and often conflicting, needs of the people that use it. In E/SE Asia, where marine activities are important contributors to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), marine spatial planning involving coordinated decision-making has been highlighted as a key requirement for a sustainable future.

Through academic-stakeholder collaborations, community co-creation and co-delivery, Blue Communities will support the development, implementation and ongoing management of initiatives that promote the sustainable use of marine resources by multiple users, whilst protecting the fragile marine ecosystems and supporting the livelihoods food security, health and well-being of the people in these coastal communities.


The vision of the Blue Communities Programme is to develop interdisciplinary research capability and lasting collaborations that:

  • Facilitate innovative application of integrated planning in the marine environment within the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, and other marine parks and their communities, in East and Southeast Asia.
  • Respond to the UN Sustainable Development Goals of no poverty, zero hunger and good health and well-being for coastal communities through the sustainable use of marine resources.

Overarching challenges

  • Promotion of sustainable harvesting
  • Preparation for climate change
  • Promotion of good health
  • Identification of opportunities for growth
  • Co-development and implementation of marine planning and management schemes

The Blue Communities team will focus their work on case study sites in ‘UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves’, located in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, and the Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Malaysia. These ‘Science for Sustainability’ support sites provide an established, collaborative infrastructure in which initiatives can be developed and tested with the local stakeholders, with an aim to then promote successful approaches with other coastal communities in the wider UNESCO Biosphere Reserve network and elsewhere.

One of the most important aspects of this Blue Communities programme is effective and culturally-sensitive relationship building with the wide-ranging stakeholders. Strong links will be forged between the Blue Communities team, case study site and the UK’s North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to engender trust between all parties and to underpin up-take and continuation of the marine management strategies that are co-developed.

Key outputs

  • Established interdisciplinary and international research and stakeholder networks to continue initiatives into the future
  • Ongoing bespoke training programmes
  • Knowledge exchange and the co-development of planning and management tools
  • Co-developed best practice guidance
  • Long-term collaborations between researchers, stakeholders and regions.
  • Increased experience of UK researchers addressing Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Development Assistance Committee (DAC) issues and challenges

These outputs will be supported by a number of cross-cutting, research capacity-building activities including:

  • Further co-development of the 12 research projects for current programme, identifying associated research capacity and training needs with local communities and researchers.
  • Engagement in learning-by-doing through joint projects conducted in case study sites making opportunities for learning and exchange for UK and E/SE Asian researchers as well as opportunities between E/SE Asian researchers, following through with facilitated wash-up analysis of lessons learned from research projects and from stakeholder engagement
  • Undertaking iterative evidence synthesis with partners and local communities to inform learning and identify evidence gaps.
  • Ongoing identification of additional relevant research/stakeholder partners (Government, NGOs, community groups) and assessment of their skills, as appropriate, for each study site.
  • Based on skills mapping and identified research capacity and training needs, co-plan and implement a programme of bespoke training through workshops, mentoring, exchange visits and secondments, lectures and webinars.
  • Develop the use of case studies as “training and team development ground”, including the North Devon Biosphere Reserve in UK, and share the lessons learned from research and management experiences.
  • Inclusion of stakeholder interaction as a key component of all UK research visits to partner countries to ensure research and its outputs are relevant and sensitive to national and local cultural issues.
  • Scale-up research activities and stakeholder engagement to develop regional teams, in addition to national and local teams.
  • Identification of future research priorities to develop and deliver further improvements in marine management and planning, including continuous evaluation of the impact of approaches developed and proposed in the current programme.
  • Joint application for further funding to address current and future research priorities.

Supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Project partners

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (project lead)

Plymouth Marine Laboratory
University of Plymouth logo
University of Exeter
The Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources Management Universitas Nasional (CSERM-UNAS) logo
Western Philippines University College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences logo
University of Malaya’s Sustainability Science Research Cluster logo
Blue Ventures logo
North Devon Biosphere Reserve logo
Hanoi National University of Education logo














Integrated Renewable Energy for a Resilient Aceh, 2016

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Integrated Renewable Energy for a Resilient Aceh, 2016

Donor: British Council Newton Fund Institutional Links supported by Department of Marine and Fisheries (DKP)

Amount of funding: 100,000 GBP

Project partners: Robert Gordon University (CUSP-RGU), Universitas Syah Kuala (UNSYIAH), Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Aceh, Strategic Resource Initiative (SRI), Centre for Sustainable Energy and Resources Management (CSERM) UNAS Continue reading