Fostering Sustainable Development: Examining the challenges posed by maritime insecurity

Lead Research Organisation: Coventry University
Department Name: Business Environment and Society


Despite the financial crisis, the UK remains committed to spending 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance, a target it expects to reach in the 2013-2014 financial year, and which the coalition government has recently reiterated a desire to enshrine into law. Internationally the UK's commitment to international development has led it to take on the role of Co-Chair of a panel, set-up by the United Nations (UN), to look at a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which expire in 2015. Such a period of reflection provides a particularly good opportunity for new issues to be highlighted, in an effort to ensure future development objectives and the strategies that are formed to meet them, are as effective as is possible.

In this context this seminar series seeks to investigate the relationship between maritime insecurity and sustainable development facilitating increased maritime domain awareness. At its most basic the maritime domain is defined as the sea, navigable waterways and all activities associated with them. While a security challenge such as piracy, specifically off the Horn of Africa, has increasingly been the subject of news coverage, such reports tend to focus on the number of incidents or on the fate of British hostages seized. An assessment of the impact such challenges have on the populations of developing countries themselves and the impediments maritime insecurity can have on development efforts remains understudied. Beyond piracy, the maritime domain is also exploited by those involved in Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, the dumping of toxic waste, and in the trafficking of illegal drugs, to name just three examples, illustrating the breadth of the challenges faced.

In beginning the process of addressing this gap in knowledge by discussing further the relationship between activities at sea and on land, this seminar series will make a significant contribution building a new research network of both academic and non-academic participants, highlighting new research opportunities to be pursued, and by making policy proposals that can feed in to development efforts. The involvement of academics from multiple disciplines, at different stages in their careers, based in both the UK and internationally, alongside policy makers and practitioners, will ensure different insights are shared and new relationships forged. The Royal Navy and the Nautical Institute are principal external partners for the seminar series. The process of investigating the relationship between maritime insecurity and sustainable development will contribute to the emergence of development efforts that are even more responsive to the needs of populations.

The seminar series consists of six seminars delivered over a two year period (2013-2015), three of which examine specific cases of maritime insecurity in waters off African countries, a continent where development efforts have long been focused. Each seminar is structured so as to facilitate participant discussion, with an accompanying website and mailing list, alongside periodic publications, utilised to ensure the research is as widely available to interested parties as is possible.

Seminar 1 (November 2013 - Coventry University): Setting the Scene - Concepts, actors and an emerging research agenda.
Seminar 2 (April 2014 - Coventry University, London Campus): Environmental Degradation: IUU fishing and toxic waste dumping.
Seminar 3 (September 2014 - HMS President, London): Transnational Crime: Illegal Drugs Trafficking.
Seminar 4 (December 2014 - Nautical Institute, London): Organised Violence: Piracy.
Seminar 5 (April 2015 - Coventry University): Fostering Sustainable Development: The impediments posed by maritime insecurity.
Seminar 6 (September 2015 - Coventry University): Future Pathways: Enhancing trust, transferring knowledge.

Planned Impact

This focused seminar series and new research network builds on the research interests and expertise of the applicants and is aimed at developing an interdisciplinary theme of research with regards to the relationship between maritime insecurity and sustainable development. The need to consider the wider consequences of maritime insecurity has been recognised by policy makers and practitioners (e.g. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2005). However in relative terms the amount of research undertaken here has been limited, the links between maritime insecurity and sustainable development not sufficiently elaborated, and sustained collaboration between different actors (both state and non-state) in this area rare. The seminar series is innovative then both because of its explicit focus on the links between activities at sea and on land, and the extent to which non-academic participants will be involved as presenters as well as participants.

The aims and objectives of the proposed seminar series fit within the ESRC's strategic priority 'economic performance and sustainable growth' and the emphasis on better understanding the prospects for alleviating global poverty. The first Millennium Development Goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, yet insecurity in the maritime domain risks undermining efforts here with challenges such as IUU fishing undermining a valuable food source for many coastal communities. Greater knowledge of maritime insecurity can then assist those involved in efforts to attain more sustainable development.

The seminar series bring together academics from different disciplines, from different countries, and at various stages of their career; whilst also having practical relevance to policy makers and practitioners particularly in maritime security and development. More specifically the seminar series will encourage the involvement of early career fellows as participants thus building their experience and expanding their research networks. This objective will be facilitated in part with financial support for travel and subsistence. In terms of non-academic participants the seminar series seeks to bring together actors associated with the state such as representatives from the Royal Navy; alongside non-state actors such as non-governmental organisations associated with the maritime domain (e.g. the Nautical Institute) and representatives from the private sector (e.g. shipping companies).

ESRC sponsorship of the seminar series will enable all these participants to engage in ongoing dialogue and debate on the key issues, particularly around maritime insecurity and sustainable development. Here the proposed use of 'break-out' sessions during some of the seminars, alongside the accompanying website, mailing list and research outputs will further enhance these efforts at building dialogue and facilitating debate by ensuring the opportunities for interaction between participants is maximised. Moreover, it is envisaged the seminar series will facilitate the formation of additional collaborative research projects and publications amongst researchers, and enhance trust and encourage further knowledge sharing between academic researchers, policy makers and practitioners. The seminar series will then enhance research capacity in this area.

Overall, our aim is to have at least one major contribution from a non-academic participant in each seminar and to integrate them into the preparation of academic and policy outputs. Such engagement has already commenced with the objectives and proposed structure of the seminar series discussed with a range of practitioners to gauge their feedback, and through the establishment of external partner relationships with the Royal Navy and the Nautical Institute. Both Özerdem and Malcolm have a well-established track record of working with practitioners and are committed to the pursuit of applied research, a principle objective of Coventry University.


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Description The following main findings have emerged from the seminar series funded by this grant:

1) The relationship between security and development is an important, yet deeply complex one, as the definition of each concept is essentially contested. This is just as much the case in the maritime domain, where maritime security itself also lacks a single definition. Nevertheless the seminars affirmed the starting assumption at the heart of the project that the relationship between insecurity at sea and development challenges on land is a real one, is multifaceted and worthy of wider discussion. Indeed there was common agreement from participants that development efforts need to be more maritime domain aware. Here the seminar series found that a more comprehensive conceptualisation of maritime security, focusing on better understanding the lived experiences of varied 'vulnerable populations', was a productive research approach. As such the seminars sought to deepen knowledge of the development-maritime security relationship by looking at the lives of coastal communities, migrants, and seafarers to name just three examples. Nevertheless, the seminar series also highlighted that some important stakeholders, specifically in the NGO sector, are still unsure and at times uncomfortable about their own relationship with the idea of being associated with the pursuit of enhanced security. This has potential ramifications for how policy and practice in and around the maritime domain may be pursued and this needs to be more widely studied.

2) The seminar series found that across each of the three core maritime security challenges discussed - Illegal Fishing, Irregular Migration by sea, Armed Violence at sea - there were clear implications for wider development efforts including challenges for the ocean environment, human wellbeing and global trade each with social and economic consequences. More specifically, when discussing Illegal Fishing notable points raised included the legal complexity surrounding the management of fisheries, the need to enhance maritime domain awareness, and the importance of considering the role of the consumer when developing comprehensive strategies of response. In terms of irregular migration the need to consider the impact on, and role of, North African coastal transit states when developing a sustainable and humanitarian response to the migration crisis was highlighted. During the seminar examining armed violence at sea, the participants noted the importance of recognising and better understanding the experience of seafarers both on humanitarian grounds but as key cogs in global trade. Far more work however needs to be done to consider what role, if any, seafarers can play in enhancing wider maritime domain awareness around security challenges, specifically from a security and ethical perspective. Collectively each of the seminars highlighted the need to recognise context and complexity and therefore not over-generalise. A solution in one region is not necessarily appropriate to another. Nevertheless a focus on improved maritime governance (the macro level picture of rules, resources) and capacity-building (micro-level support) emerged.

3) A principle challenge in investigating the maritime insecurity/sustainable development relationship is a lack of information-sharing between different stakeholders about their activities. The seminar series found that this situation emerges out of, and in tandem extenuates, a general problem of 'seablindness' whereby some actors do not have a suitable level of knowledge about the characteristics and governance of the maritime domain and/or feel as though they do not have an impact on activities in the maritime domain when they clearly do. The corresponding 'landblindness' of some maritime actors was also apparent. The impact of such respective blindness is duplication of activities, often in similar neighbourhoods. Options to enhance stakeholder information-sharing, including improving training on the land-sea nexus would be beneficial for efforts to both enhance sustainable development and maritime security.

4) The fourth main finding of the seminar series was that the role played by civil society in enhancing maritime security needs further consideration. Existing focus often falls on state actors (either individually or through inter-governmental organisations) with a growing recognition in academic and policy circles of the role the private sector can play also. Yet the project heard many interesting and inspiring examples of the way in which civil society actors and principles such as local ownership can enhance the sustainability of projects and facilitate more innovative responses. The role of civil society, alongside consideration of the opportunities and pitfalls associated with such roles, is worthy of further consideration if we are to truly enhance sustainable development on land and at sea.
Exploitation Route The seminar series has provided valuable spaces for different stakeholders - academic and non-academic - to come together to share insights about significant challenges to maritime security and the implications of these on sustainable development efforts. While every participant will take away different things from the events, it is strongly felt that knowledge of key challenges such as Illegal Fishing and Armed Violence at sea has been expanded. Associated with this expansion of knowledge, another outcome of the grant has been the way in which opportunities to expand networks have been created by the project. Individuals from the Royal Navy, NGO's working on development and maritime security issues, the private sector and crucially individuals who have lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa have been brought together in a spirit of open discussion to share insights. It has allowed enhanced communications to emerge and represents the start of a formation of a new community of practice in to this area. Here the active use of 'break out' sessions during seminars particular assisted the process. The ideas and networks developed by the grant could be put to particular use by Early Career Fellows, one of our secondary project objectives. Each seminar involved Early Career Fellow involvement, with bursary support to facilitate such attendance. The investigation team have had positive feedback from these Fellows about their learning experience. Our design and launch of a project website opened up the research work to a wider audience. In recent years the Co-Investigator has drawn upon the insights around the maritime security/sustainable development relationship gained during the seminar series to publish journal articles exploring this security/development relationship in the Western Indian Ocean. Whilst not direct outputs of this project, they illustrate the way project findings have been taken forward and built upon.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Other

Description The seminar series encapsulated six one-day events highlighting the connections between insecurity at sea and development challenges on land. The first seminar examined the concepts of 'Sustainable Development' and 'Maritime Security' amidst the backdrop of the emerging Sustainable Development Goals to highlight potential conceptual synergies. With this complete three events were held to investigate security challenges associated with the maritime domain. One event focused on Illegal Fishing, another on armed violence at sea, and a third event considered irregular migration across the Mediterranean. With this complete the penultimate seminar examined the role of emerging technologies in responding to maritime insecurity, whilst the final seminar looked at lessons learnt across the series and thought through ways in which the emerging stakeholder network forged during the series could move forwards. Academically the seminar series has served as an important mechanism to highlight the emerging sub-discipline of Maritime Security Studies and shed further light on the comprehensive approach to conceptualising Maritime Security which recognises the importance of moving beyond the military lens to consider Human Security issues. More specifically, the seminar series has given a space for academics, including young researchers, to share their research findings, get constructive feedback, and build their networks. Beyond the academic realm, the emphasise on better understanding security challenges associated with the maritime domain such as Illegal Fishing, Piracy and Irregular Migration has informed policy-makers and practitioners that the sustainable development agenda cannot and must not stop at the water's edge. Here broader awareness of these linkages were captured in a joint authored commentary piece by the project's Co-Investigator with another Coventry University academic on the migration crisis, published in 2015 by 'The Conversation' website. The Co-Investigator has published a series of short 'Maritime Security Briefings' during 2016, among which two have highlighted the role of local communities in responding to maritime insecurity, and sought to build on the project's findings with a case study on Small Island Developing States. These briefings have been distributed to a range of policy-makers and practitioners with positive feedback being received. The investigatory team's work on maritime (in)security-sustainable development also resulted in the Co-Investigator being invited as one of just 12 independent academic experts at a Hague Institute conference on Oceans Governance. Here the Co-Investigator was able to share findings with other academics, but crucially Dutch government representatives who widely supported the conference. A journal article in 'Global Policy' journal from this conference has been selected for a special issue and was published in 2017. A subsequent journal article on maritime security in the Western Indian Ocean was written by the Co-Investigator with an international academic colleague and published in the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region in 2017. The project also brought together a range of academic and non-academic actors including UK and EU government officials, UK military personnel, foreign government representatives, Non-Governmental Organisations, and technology companies to form an informal network of stakeholders interested in Maritime Security issues. More specifically the Investigatory team drew upon the support of two principal external partners - The Royal Navy and The Nautical Institute - to organise events and facilitate the attendance of varied participants. The external partners provided venues to host events and sent representatives to contribute to discussions. Beyond these two organisations, the Investigatory team also engaged with and co-organised one seminar with the UK governments' Knowledge Transfer Network for Transport helping us to raise awareness of the project with the business community. This served to bring together technology companies to gain insights in to the social science dimension to responding to maritime (in)security, whilst exposing social scientists to the interests, needs and concerns of the technology business community. Collectively the networking has highlighted the relationship between sustainable development and maritime (in)security and provided a mechanism through which actors have gained increased understanding of each other's projects, specifically in African coastal areas, hopefully enabling the development of co-operative relationships to enhance sustainable development and maritime security. Beyond the Hague Institute attendance, over the last 12 months the added profile for the investigatory team that emerged from this seminar series has led to the Co-Investigator being invited to serve as an independent expert on the UK Government Office of Science's evaluation of Ocean issues. Here the Co-Investigator attended a one-day expert engagement day hosted by the UK Government's Chief Scientist. The Co-Investigator has also held meetings with three UK government departments (Transport, Foreign Office and Defence) to discuss maritime security issues.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Delivery of Maritime Security Awareness training to FCO
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The Co-I has led the development and delivery of a CPD programme on Maritime Security Awareness for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This short training package - delivered face-to-face and by distance - is open to interested FCO staff internationally and increases their knowledge and awareness of maritime security. The Co-I has delivered two face-to-face sessions with UK government staff (2017 and 2018) and one train-the-trainer session (2018).
Description Coventry University Pump Priming Funding Scheme
Amount £4,852 (GBP)
Funding ID Grant Holder - Dr James A. Malcolm 
Organisation Coventry University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2015 
End 06/2016
Description Event co-organiser - Transport Knowledge Transfer Network (BiS) 
Organisation Knowledge Transfer Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution When seeking to organise a seminar on the role technology could play in responding to maritime (in)security and enhancing sustainable development we co-operated with the Transport Mobility Research Centre within Coventry University. Through this engagement we were introduced to the Knowledge Transfer Network - Transport Division. We contacted to the KTN to highlight our event and agreed to co-organise the specific seminar in central London. Regular communications followed by email and telephone to help organise the event.
Collaborator Contribution The KTN circulated information about the seminar to their extensive practitioner/stakeholder networks and helped advise and sign-up both presenters and participants for the one-day seminar. This allowed us to tap in to a wider circle of actors who had an interest and expertise in understanding more about maritime (in)security and the way in which technology systems may assist in enhancing security.
Impact The principle output was the one-day seminar itself. Engagement with technology scholars and companies ensured the event brought together social scientists with computer scientists and engineers.
Start Year 2015
Description Principal External Partner - The Nautical Institute 
Organisation The Nautical Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, through this ESRC project, made contact with The Nautical Institute in the application stage of the project. Headquartered in London, the Institute represent seafarers internationally and served as an important conduit between the research team and the wider seafarer community, crucial for a seminar series examining maritime (in)security. The research team worked with a senior official within the Institute to outline the specific role the organisation would play in the seminar series, regularly communicating by email and in person to ensure the views and insights of the Institute were factored in to specific events to maximise interest and transferability.
Collaborator Contribution The Nautical Institute provided a venue free of charge to the research team to organise our fourth seminar which examined the impact of armed violence at sea on seafarers. Alongside the central London venue, they also helped to put the research team in touch with external speakers provided their own representative for this seminar and sent a member of staff to four additional seminars.
Impact One-day seminar within the series examining the impact of armed violence at sea on seafarers.
Start Year 2014
Description Principal External Partners - Royal Navy 
Organisation Ministry of Defence (MOD)
Department Royal Navy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Contact was made with the Royal Navy as the investigation team's home centre - Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations - had existing communications with representatives in the Royal Navy. The request was made as to whether they would be interested in supporting the seminar series as a principal external partner by hosting one seminar and sending a representative to participate.
Collaborator Contribution The Royal Navy provided a venue in London to host the second seminar in the series free of charge. They also shared information about the seminar internally encouraging valuable attendance from Naval personnel.
Impact The hosting of the IUU Fishing seminar in London was greatly assisted by this collaboration.
Start Year 2014
Description Attendance at GO:Science Expert event on the Oceans. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited attendance at the UK Government Office of Science expert meeting on the oceans. My invitation emerged out of a conversation with a GO:Science researcher who was keen to learn more about my work and subsequently felt I could provide a maritime security perspective at the event. Maritime security and the relationship with sustainable development was subsequently fed in to the GO: Science review process aimed at providing UK ministers with ideas around ocean governance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Maritime Security presentation to College Students 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A talk delivered to sixth-form students at the James Allen Girls School in London titled, 'Liberty and Security in a Dangerous World', introduces students to maritime security and seeks to highlight from this topic trends around security and liberty. The expectation is that students will have more awareness and interest in maritime security issues and associated policy-development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Media Interest -IHS Maritime 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The interview resulted in a short article in the magazine, IHS - Maritime, titled, 'University seeks security insight' which laid out the context and objectives of the seminar series and highlighted a call for expressions of interest from those working in maritime security.

One organisation contacted the Co-Investigator to learn more about the seminar series.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description UK Government Departmental Meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Co-Investigator of the project met with an official from three UK government departments (Foreign Office, Transport, Defence [Royal Navy]) to update them on the maritime security work being conducted in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, a process which included elaborating the nature and outcomes of the ESRC seminar series on the maritime security and sustainable development project. This continued to enhance relations with the departments and increased knowledge of the maritime security/sustainable development relationship, with a Continued Professional Development training opportunity emerging alongside these conversations, whereby the Co-I led on the development and delivery of maritime security awareness training for the Foreign Office.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016