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NISD Thought Leaders seminar series

This seminar is part of the 2021  NISD seminar series that brings leading experts together to share knowledge around sustainable development challenges. This first season of the series focuses particularly on sustainable agriculture.


Professor Eddie Allison – Director of Science and Research, Aquatic Food Systems,  WorldFish

Attendees can join virtually or in person (REG 1.14, UEA).


Land and land-based activities and societies have played the dominant role in shaping thinking in International Development but the development trajectories of nations and regions have been heavily influenced by the maritime and aquatic realm. Rivers, lakes, seas and oceans have shaped human settlement patterns, trading relationships, cultural interchanges and the formation and demise of colonies and empires.  Human societies were once – and are perhaps once again becoming  – coastal.

Yet, oceans, in particular, have been treated as unpeopled spaces of little interest to those studying patterns of economic and social development.  However, in recent decades, the ‘blue economy’ has emerged as a focus for nations ways to find new energy and material sources for growth, to decarbonize their economies, and to find ways to live in and with non-human nature in new ways.

What scope is there for development studies scholars, advisors and practitioners to critically engage in this emergent blue economy?  What benefits to equitable and sustainable development could such engagement foster?


Eddie Allison is an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in marine biology, fisheries science and international development studies and particular interests in aquatic food systems, livelihoods and wellbeing of people engaged in small-scale fisheries.  He is currently Director of Science and Research at WorldFish, one of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)  institutions. He is also a principal investigator in the Nippon Foundation’s Ocean Nexus Program, an honorary professor at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University in the UK, and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, University of Washington in Seattle, USA.

Eddie’s work is often closely linked to policy or management and development practice and spans scales from global meta-analysis, through national policy analysis to local-site case-studies. He draws ideas mainly from scholarship in social-ecological systems and sustainability science, development studies and political ecology.  He often works in partnership with anthropologists, economists, human geographers and ecologists as well as other interdisciplinary scholars. In 2020 was named a Clarivate ‘highly cited scientist’ in the cross-disciplinary category.

Eddie has worked mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia, though he has also participated in projects in Europe, South Asia, North and South America and Oceania.  The work he will present in this talk arose from a policy report to the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, entitled “The Human Relationship With Our Ocean Planet”.

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