Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Ocean and Coastal Policy Program
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay /

Ocean and Coastal Policy Program

The impact of human activities on marine ecosystems could threaten human well-being.

Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend on the ocean’s resources for food security, nutrition, and health as well as for livelihoods, homes and shelter, and sustainable economic growth, yet many of these resources are threatened by overfishing, degradation and loss of natural habitats, pollution, acidification, and climate change.

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 University’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.

The program focuses on two broad areas—fisheries and food security and the blue economy and marine ecosystem services—and it provides services in three capacities. As an Ocean Science-to-Policy Advisory Facility, it connects Duke’s experts to decision makers through service agreements with secretariats and governments, providing pro bono research support as well as targeted research and advisory services, data gathering, and training opportunities on a cost-recovery basis. As an Ocean Conservation Finance and Impact Investment Laboratory, the program helps to develop the success metrics and risk assessment tools necessary to leverage the public and private capital required to meet global and local goals for a healthier ocean.



Blue Economy

To expand the ocean economy to create jobs and economic growth while achieving global targets set for ocean health, ocean policy should account for the value of the services dependent on marine ecosystems.


Climate Resilience and Adaptation

Given accelerating global climate change, understanding and enhancing the ways in which our social and ecological systems can withstand, respond to, and recover from changes and disruptions is critical.


Fisheries and Food Security

To sustainably feed 9.6 billion people, overfished stocks must be rebuilt, and the production and environmental performance of aquaculture must be increased.


Oceans and Climate Change

The current fragile state of ocean health is a bellwether for the earth’s changing climate. The Ocean and Coastal Policy Program draws on Duke’s expertise to support policies promoting a healthy ocean for shared prosperity.


Plastics Policy

A growing body of scientific evidence documents plastic's harmful environmental and human health impacts throughout its life cycle, spanning production to its post-consumption state as pollution or recycled material.