EARC Conference 2022 – Sustainable coastal ecosystems and opportunities for regional development
Venue: Hooper and Woods
Climate change is forcing coastal communities to rethink the way they manage coastal environments.
This can bring challenges but also potential opportunities, for example for capturing green (or blue) finance, opening up ecotourism, and protecting inland areas.
This session will first present one such area of opportunity, namely seaweed farming. The East of England, bordering the southern area of the North Sea, presents an as yet unexploited potential to address multiple challenges including climate change, nutrition, biodiversity and erosion. Macroalgae farming at scale has a role to play in offering solutions to the above challenges through the propensity of seaweed to fix carbon rapidly and provide biomass, rich in nutrients, that can be made into valuable products through onshore processing.
The waters of the south North Sea have been identified as a suitable environment for large scale seaweed cultivation that would not only enhance habitat for biodiversity regeneration but also offer protection against scour and coastal erosion. We see opportunities in colocated wind and seaweed farms eventually helping to meet the growing plant-based nutritional demand in the UK and elsewhere but in doing so, also supporting carbon sequestration with an environmentally positive product life cycle.
Prof Sheng Qi (UEA) and colleagues will look at how a sustainable seaweed circular economy in the East of England can fix carbon rapidly and provide biomass, rich in nutrients, that can be made into valuable products through onshore processing.
In the second part, we will open up the discussion to a wider set of opportunities with a panel discussion with representatives from CEFAS, UEA Low Carbon Innovation Fund, regional government, conservation charities, as well as the seaweed farming initiative.
Christa is an Associate Professor in Economics at the School of Economics at UEA, head of the School’s Environment, Resources, and Conflict research group, and UEA co-champion for the Eastern Arc theme “Sustainability, Natural Resources and Food”.
Her research interests are in applied economics. She has mainly explored topics in economic growth and development, particularly in resource economics and conflict studies. She has recently been studying how we can change attitudes and behaviour for better natural resource management using behavioural economics. In her research, she uses secondary data, as well as primary data gathered through surveys, field experiments, and lab-in-the-field experiments. She is also fascinated by economic history and how it helps us understand present-day economic and political activities, and she loves delving into old books and archives.
Christa has an MA in Political Science and a PhD in Economics from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Before coming to UEA in 2015, she was a Research Associate Professor at NTNU (Norway) and a Senior Researcher/Lecturer at ETH Zurich (Switzerland). She also worked for a bank in Zurich and an audit and consulting firm in Moscow (Russia). She is an External Research Associate at OxCarre, University of Oxford (UK).
Prof Qi has a keen research focus on material and process innovation, with a wide range of applications of technologies developed in her lab spanning from pharmaceutical to food and packaging. Her research lab has a track record of working closely with industrial partners to develop innovative products using materials from natural and sustainable sources, such as seaweed.
After recently taking on the role of the Associate Dean of Innovation of the Faculty of Science, she has played an active role is driving the collaborations between Norwich Research Park and Algae Innovation Platform which led to formation of SeAnglia Technologies spin-off group with a vision for establishing a seaweed based circular economy in East Anglia
William Athill is a seaweed and oyster farmer in North Norfolk, England. Born and educated in Norfolk he was soldier for five years before joining a maritime salvage company that metamorphosed into an oil and gas exploration company where William worked for 35 years specialising in international rig move operations into harsh and hostile environments.
After a four year sabbatical in large scale aquaculture in south east Asia and investment banking in New York and Hong Kong he saw that un-regulated extractive industries were so damaging to the world we live in he founded Norfolk Seaweed Ltd to pilot the production of low impact, low carbon, fully sustainable macro algae for bio-pharma, agricultural and soil health sectors.
Schalk de Beer is the Managing Director of Central Pharma Biotechnica. CP Biotechnica is the oldest and largest seaweed extraction company in the UK and services an international client base. Schalk holds a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and has more than 30 years’ experience in the extraction, fractionation and purification of functional molecules from organic material.
He is committed to the future of seaweed, both from an environmental as well economical point of view. Schalk’s main focus is to create a Biorefinery that can serve the needs of seaweed cultivation farmers.
Dr. Nigel Hargreaves is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He is the founder and Managing Director of Synfo which he set up in 2015 to offer support for smart energy systems development.
He has over 30 years technical and multidisciplinary experience in engineering, climate change, sustainability and sociotechnical fields. Nigel provides consultancy on challenges at local, regional, national and international scales, offering a whole systems approach that can contribute to better leadership, business development and policy decision making. He is a Climate Commissioner advising Norwich City Council on climate change mitigation and adaption policies, and a member of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce Business Climate Leaders initiative.
Nigel works collaboratively with other organisations seeking to find solutions to man-made global warming, regeneration and biodiversity loss. In 2020, recognising the undeveloped potential of local aquaculture and the urgency to regenerate marine ecosystems, he co-founded the SEAnglia vision for a seaweed based circular economy in East Anglia. This led to setting up the Algae Innovation Platform with Rikke Nagell-Kleven at Hethel Innovation.
Tiziana Luisetti is a principal environmental economist at Cefas, where she leads the environmental economics and social sciences, and honorary senior lecturer at UEA in the School of Environmental Sciences and member of the Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE) with over ten years of research experience. Tiziana specialises in coastal and marine ecosystem services and natural capital valuation, management and accounting.
Tiziana’s research interest has extended from intertidal ecosystem services valuation and management to a wider interest in the whole coastal and marine environment valuation, management and governance for policy design and decision making. Tiziana is particularly interested in inter- and intra-disciplinary research. Her current research focuses mostly on the economics of Blue Carbon, investigating the value of conserving and restoring saltmarsh, seagrasses, and mangroves, but also the carbon sequestration potential of marine sediments. Her research interest also includes the economics of marine biodiversity, food security, cultural services and invasive species.
Dr Gill Malin is Reader (Associate Professor) in Biological Oceanography at the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK , Director of Marine Biology for the Marine Knowledge Exchange Network, a former President of the British Phycological Society (BPS brphycsoc.org; 2015-2018) and Chair of their Algal Applications Committee (2012-present). Gill’s major research interests involve biogenic trace gas production involving micro- or macroalgae (seaweeds).
Dimethyl sulphide, halocarbons and non-methane hydrocarbons are of particular interest and such compounds have wide-ranging effects on global atmospheric chemistry and the Earth’s climate. Her group have also worked on related aspects of marine biogeochemistry and biological oceanography. Recently this has included projects on autonomous analysis of marine zooplankton and on changes in nutrient concentrations and ratios in UK coastal waters and how these affect phytoplankton speciation.
Gill’s in-depth academic knowledge of algae sparked early interests in the exploitation of microalgal and seaweed biomass and its vital connection with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a targeted and “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”
Rikke works as as an Innovation Advisor in the Business Development team at Hethel Innovation. She studied a BSc in Biomedicine and an MSc in Molecular Medicine, and an MSc in Business Management at the University of East Anglia. She is passionate about growing and communicating her interest in both high-quality science, particularly anything related to the ocean, and business.
She coordinates the Algae Innovation Platform, with the overall aim to bring local, domestic and international expertise together to better understand what is needed to develop a viable and sustainable seaweed industry in the East of England.
Katy leads the Protected Landscapes Team at Norfolk County Council, which unites the Norfolk Coast AONB, The Wash and North Norfolk Marine Protected Area Network, Norfolk Trails and the National Trails Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coast Path. She oversees strategic collaboration between these designated landscapes to improve outcomes for both people and place.
She holds extensive experience in project development and delivery, with a focus on delivering measurable change through cross-sector partnership working. Her portfolio includes the EU projects EXPERIENCE and [norfolk.gov.uk/what-we-do-and-how-we-work/our-budget-and-council-tax/our-budget/bids-and-funding-weve-won/prowad-project]PROWAD-Link which seek to reinvent the way communities, environment, economics and brand interact to secure a more sustainable approach to the visitor economy and lasting benefits for rural areas. EXPERIENCE also places emphasis on developing new tourism products which empower people of all abilities and backgrounds to enjoy Norfolk’s nature and culture – something she is passionate about.
Katy is Vice-Chair of The Wash and North Norfolk Marine Partnership and a Trustee of the National Trails UK charity.