Research into the concept of “marine identity” has been officially endorsed by the United Nations as part of its Ocean Decade action plan.
University of Exeter researcher and marine social scientist Pamela Buchan defines a marine identity as one formed when a person feels so passionately about the marine environment, they depend on a healthy ocean to support their sense of self. This is thought to be an important driver of “marine citizenship”, when a person takes action to change the human-ocean relationship in ways that contribute to improving ocean and climate health and sustainability.
The UN's Ocean Decade sets out challenges to address the most immediate marine priorities for 2021-2030. Dr Buchan’s research has been endorsed under challenge 10 - change humanity's relationship with the ocean.
“This research contributes to the challenge of transforming humanity’s relationship with the ocean - I can’t think of a more pressing challenge facing society."
She said, “The UN Ocean Decade is a vital international initiative designed to safeguard our seas for future generation. As a passionate ocean advocate, I am delighted that our research into marine identity has been endorsed as a UN Ocean Decade Action.
“This research contributes directly to Challenge 10 of the Ocean Decade, transforming humanity’s relationship with the ocean, and I can’t think of a more pressing challenge facing society today.
“I hope that our co-conceptualisation of marine identity will be relevant to researchers and practitioners around the world, and that it will support them in thinking widely and holistically about the relationship people have with the ocean and how that might influence their own work.
“Together we can transform our relationship with the ocean for the better.”
Dr Buchan, who won the Economic and Social Research Council career impact prize in 2022 for research into marine citizenship, is currently leading an international study to understand the nature and types of marine identities.
The UN describes the Ocean Decade 2021-30 as a “framework for diverse stakeholders to co-design and co-deliver solution-oriented research for a well-functioning ocean”.