Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Fish near mangrove root credit

Oceans and Climate Change

The current fragile state of ocean health is a bellwether for the earth’s changing climate. The impact of human activities on marine ecosystems threatens human and other species’ well-being.

The Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability draws on Duke University’s expertise to support policies promoting a healthy ocean for shared prosperity. The program serves as a bridge between policy makers around the world and Duke’s vast natural sciences expertise to support ocean health assessment and policy impact evaluation, social sciences and legal expertise to inform policy formulation and adoption, and finance expertise to lever­age resources for policy implementation.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world live at close proximity to the shoreline, and sea level rise due to climate change will affect their ability to live in these coastal regions. These same people depend on the ocean’s resources for food security, nutrition, and health, as well as for livelihoods, homes and shelter, and sustainable economic growth. Many of these resources are threatened by climate change, pollution, acidification, overfishing, and degradation and loss of natural habitats. 


US Coastal Habitat Policy Review

Coastal habitats in the United States provide significant environmental, social, and economic benefits, including shoreline protection, carbon sequestration, food provision, and recreational and cultural services.


Oceans@Duke is a multidisciplinary community of Duke’s scholars working on challenges to sustainable use of the oceans.

Coastal Blue Carbon

Research at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability examines the economic and scientific challenges that need to be addressed in order to determine whether payments for storing coastal blue carbon may one day help conserve mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes, and keep them from being converted to other uses and releasing their stores of greenhouse gas.

Coral Reef Resiliency

Warm-water coral reefs around the world have undergone rapid and accelerating changes in recent decades as ocean temperatures have risen with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.