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Guiding Principles

Drawing on the long list of key challenges and emerging issues, short narratives, and workshop options and actions, a set of MCCIP guiding principles have been developed to support our response as a community.

Four guiding principles are identified, including an overarching principle on working more effectively, and efficiently, as a community. Best practice examples are provided to illustrate where these principles are already being applied.
Principle 1 (overarching): Working as an integrated UK marine climate change community

Better integration across boundaries


  • Promote codesign and cross-sector dialogue on climate change research (from data collection to delivery of policy) making better use of existing UK and devolved coordinating bodies.  
  • Be ‘customer’ focused from the outset. Include ‘them’ in the design process and find your shared language. 
  • Establish better infrastructure from source to application, with a clear line of sight from evidence through to decision making & policy

Best practice case study: MSCC

The Marine Science Co-ordination Committee (MSCC) is a cross-government committee which aims to coordinate scientific knowledge, resources and communications to support marine policy decisions. The MSCC has identified a number of priority areas of which one is to “better understand the impacts of climate change, including its multiple stressors and feedbacks, and the ocean’s resistance and resilience to a changing climate”; MCCIP leads this area as well as contributing to the International and communication sub-groups. MSCC is unique in integrating marine interests across multiple government departments, agencies and other bodies and is multi-sectoral (research, policy, industry) in focus.

Achieving better outcomes


  • Embed long-term principles into decision making to ensure short term gains do not jeopardise our future ability to adapt to climate change.    
  • Integrate transparency within decision-making mechanisms, sharing lessons learned from unintended consequences of decisions to facilitate communal progression

Best practice case study: MERP

The Marine Ecosystems Research Programme (MERP), jointly funded by NERC and Defra, set out to integrate existing marine data and target new data with current models and knowledge of marine ecosystem services, in order to improve our understanding of the whole UK marine ecosystem. MERP demonstrated best practice by establishing a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) at the start of the Programme to advise on how it could best maximise the impact of its science and achieve better outcomes. The SAG included representatives from government organisations, NGOs, intergovernmental-agencies, industry bodies and marine associations.  

Principle 2: Evidence gathering and use

Co-ordinated data gathering


  • Develop a more coordinated, consistent and holistic approach (i.e. across multiple receptors (physical, chemical and biological)) to long-term data collection and storage (and its flows).   
  • Consider data collection in relation to the appropriate resolutions, scales and frequencies needed to improve and validate climate models and projections.    
  • Better integrate principles of environmental economics, natural capital and ecosystem valuation in evidence gathering programmes.   

Best practice case study: OSPAR

The OSPAR Convention (The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic), successor to the Oslo and Paris Conventions is a legislative mechanism through which environmental protection is implemented at a North-East Atlantic scale. Through international coordination, comprising both collective and national action, OSPAR works to further our understanding of marine ecosystems and biodiversity in the North-East Atlantic, addressing cross-cutting issues, such as climate change, pollution, and the over-exploitation of marine resources. OSPAR brings together 16 Contracting Parties, enabling coordinating evidence gathering, assessments and monitoring to deliver national and international reporting, such as the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 


Collect Once, Use many times 


  • Promote open use and reuse of data and metadata, through effective data management mechanisms such as commonly agreed standards and protocols. 
  • Actively seek other uses for existing data that can improve our understanding of climate change or feed into climate models.   

Best practice case study: MEDIN

The MEDIN portal data discovery portal is a service to allow users, through a single point of access, to find information on marine datasets held at the Data Archive Centres and at other public and private sector bodies. MEDIN promotes the use of standardised field names and vocabularies so that datasets are described in a consistent way for every type of marine data, enabling easy discovery and re-use of data.

Baselines and standards


  • Establish standardised baselines and reference points for all measurable climate change parameters and environmental variables.    
  • Agree standardised metrics for indicator assessments assessing environmental change (e.g. biological indicators), and how and where they will be applied. 
  • Develop and standardize valuation frameworks for the impacts of marine climate change (inc. non-monetary values for ecosystems and their services) to support end user decisions.  

Best practice case study: NMBAQC

The NMBAQC (North east Atlantic Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control) Scheme was set up in 1994 to provide a source of external quality control for U.K. competent monitoring authorities (CMAs) contributing to U.K. national or European monitoring programmes. It is also open to consultants and non-U.K. participants. The scheme reports to HBDSEG (the Healthy & Biologically Diverse Seas Evidence Group) under the U.K.’s Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS). NMBAQC helps to standardise results and methods by providing Best Practice guides, taxonomic workshops and training exercises. The scheme comprises a number of biological components, including epibiota, fish, invertebrates, macroalgae, phytoplankton, zooplankton and particle size analysis (PSA), each with its own set of training exercises and/or assessment modules. New components are developed as and when required, as determined by monitoring needs.

Principle 3: Communications and Engagement

Planning communication and engagement activities  


  • Make sure outputs appropriate for your audience (test them!) and monitor their uptake and use, adapting them where necessary to fit changing user needs.  
  • For your audience, focus on outcomes rather than uncertainty and try to provide ‘solutions’ to the marine climate change issues raised. Use best practice examples and case studies.  
  • Make the underlying evidence (e.g. data and modelling results) more accessible and understandable to a wider audience.  
  • Promote successful communication through transparency and use of clear, understandable language and terminology.

Best practice case study: Marine Pioneer

The Marine Pioneer, based in Suffolk and North Devon, was set up by Defra to test the approaches outlined in the 25 Year Environment Plan. A key outcome of the Marine Pioneer was demonstrating that good multi-level collaborative governance is an important activity, and the project benefitted from collaborations and partnership across scientific disciplines and different kinds of government and non-government organisations. The collaborative approach to testing and gathering evidence was an experiment in co-designing and co-delivering approaches and solutions to restoring nature. It was found that local ambition could be tested alongside national objectives, without compromising outputs. 

Building networks and finding a common voice


  • Understand your ‘network’ by mapping key influencers of actions and outcomes. Maintain sustainable stakeholder relationships with regular communication.   
  • Establish dialogue and communication mechanisms to build rapport, trust and understanding between internal and external actors, promoting the development of mutually shared goals and targets.   
  • Promote participatory processes to build consensus and find a ‘shared’ language and values.
  • Train scientists, policy makers, etc. in effective communication and create opportunities for early careers scientists and policy makers to experience each other’s work. 

Best practice case study: UK Marine Strategy

The UK Marine Strategy provides the framework for delivering marine policy at the UK level. The updated UK Marine Strategy Part 1, published in 2019, demonstrates best practice in building networks and finding a common voice. Hundreds of people contributed to the updated UK Marine Strategy Part 1, requiring substantial collaboration between marine policymakers and the marine science community via the four UK Marine Monitoring and Assessment Strategy (UKMMAS) Evidence Groups. The work and discussions of these groups, and their sub-groups, were indispensable to obtaining a coordinated picture of the state of the UK seas and the associated pressures and uses.  

Communicating outputs and outcomes   


  • Make sure outputs appropriate for your audience (test them!) and monitor their uptake and use, adapting them where necessary to fit changing user needs.  
  • For your audience, focus on outcomes rather than uncertainty and try to provide ‘solutions’ to the marine climate change issues raised. Use best practice examples and case studies.  
  • Make the underlying evidence (e.g. data and modelling results) more accessible and understandable to a wider audience.  
  • Promote successful communication through transparency and use of clear, understandable language and terminology 

Best practice case study: MCCIP

MCCIP engages widely across the UK marine climate change community to produce evidence-based outputs for end-user communities. Acting as a neutral clearing house, MCCIP provides an authoritative, unbiased view on the current state of knowledge, communicated in clear, unambiguous language. MCCIP continues to evolve to meet changing user needs for ever more up-to-date (and accessible) evidence, as well as providing support for climate action. With strong principles of scientific integrity and independence, MCCIP is a trusted source of quality assured evidence and advice, communicated through highly accessible outputs.

Principle 4: Decisions and outcomes

Evidence-based decision making and evaluation

  • Account for all relevant stressors and hazards as part of climate impact studies and assessments in the decision making process​. 
  • Develop methods for assessing outcomes (how do we define and measure success?)  
  • Establish a suite of analytical tools and mechanisms available to managers/decision makers to understand impacts of activity/responses to addressing climate change.  
  • Develop quantitative targets using appropriate metrics, indicators, and frameworks to assess change and track progress over time. 

Best practice case study: CCRA, NAP and ARP reporting

The CCRA is an independent assessment of UK climate risk and opportunities for the UK. The report is based on a literature review undertaken by 450 scientists and experts from the public and private sectors and civil society, representing 130 organisations. Three calls for evidence were carried out to identify additional evidence and the report compiles over 2,000 different sources of evidence. The evidence is summarised into an advice report which is subject to extensive peer preview. The final advice report is used to assess and prioritise the 61 climate change risks and opportunities which, in turn, informs UK and devolved National Adaptation Plans (NAP) for adapting to climate change challenges. In addition, the Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP) allows the Secretary of State to ask key organisations to report on the steps they are taking to prepare for climate change. Now in its third round, the committee on climate change (CCC) states that the ARP increases the transparency and understanding of how individual organisations are tackling the changing climate and helps the nation’s preparedness for climate change impacts. 

Adaptive management approaches, enabling flexibility and responsive decision making  

  • Define which adaptive management ‘toolboxes’ would be most useful for different scenarios, environments and outcomes.   
  • Promote scale appropriate approaches that are relevant to the nature of expected climate change effects, the response interval, and the geographic scope.  
  • Ensure that ‘climate action’ works with nature, rather than against it, promoting novel approaches such as Nature-based Solutions to balance socioeconomic and environmental needs.  

Best practice case study: Historic Environment Scotland 

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) published their Climate Action Plan in 2020. With regards to climate change adaptation, this includes undertaking a detailed assessment of climate risks and opportunities for the assets under their protection and developing their first adaptation strategy. In their role in supporting the wider historic environment sector they have committed to continuing to promote maintenance and repair as the first line of defence for historic environment assets and in providing leadership on how to manage the loss of heritage assets where there are no other viable solutions. There has also been a commitment to including climate change resilience measures as part of their Grants & Investment programme supporting heritage conservation and regeneration across Scotland. As well as this they will continue to research the impacts of climate change on the historic environment and provide tools and resources to support others, adding to the extensive collection of guidance case studies that have been published by HES. 

Effective governance and wider engagements for decision making, improving transparency


  • Promote cross-sector working and stakeholder engagement.  
  • Understand your ‘network’ by mapping key influencers of actions and outcome.  

Best practice case study: Welsh Marine Area Statement

Part 1 of the Environment (Wales) Act puts in place a requirement for the ‘sustainable management of natural resources’ (SMNR). This is recognised in Wales’ Natural Resources Policy as a key element in our response to tackling climate risk, ensuring Wales has healthy and resilient ecosystems to help capture and store carbon, and play a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. In response to this requirement, Natural Resources Wales has developed a series of Areas Statements for the whole of Wales, including the Welsh Marine Area, that explore the ways we can work together to achieve the sustainable management of natural resources. Actions are being developed in partnership with others and progress against targets will be continually reviewed in order to set a framework for future development and consent of projects.