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Supporting the Coastal Partnerships Network (CPN) is one of TEP’s wider and more nationally strategic work streams. Alice Watts, the network’s National Coordinator, speaks about the CPN, its progress and what the near future holds.

The Coastal Partnerships Network (CPN) exists to support the 56 coastal partnerships around the UK coastline. These partnerships evolved organically from local needs and work with their stakeholders to advocate a balanced approach to sustainability on the coast. The local partnerships are champions of integrated coastal management and holders of invaluable local knowledge and trust, and the CPN helps to share their knowledge and best practice among partnerships and represent them on a national scale.

In 2018, the voluntary network was successful in securing funds from the John Ellerman Foundation for a full-time National Coordinator post for three years. I have now been in working with the Network for two years and we have made great progress over that time.

This year we began our first funded national project in collaboration with the Rivers Trust, entitled the Wholescape Approach to Marine Management (WAMM). The project aims to connect Catchment and Coastal Partnerships for collaboration across entire river systems, from source to sea. If you are interested in finding out more about this work, the outputs will be available via our mailing list.

We also kicked off planning for a national Year of the Coast. The Year of the Coast is a multi-organisational project than aims to celebrate our coast whilst raising awareness of the challenges it faces and progressing its political representation. The project has recently been reframed and its timing reconsidered due to the impacts of the global pandemic. The project will be progressing in a staged manner that supports coastal communities and businesses to recover from COVID-19. With key coastal networks represented on the steering committee, the concept is evolving through communication with communities over what they want and need. If you have any thoughts you would like to add to this conversation, please feel free to get in touch.

Our annual event, the Coastal Partnerships Network Annual Forum, continues to bring partnerships together and provide valuable time to discuss successes, challenges and opportunities for collaboration. The last two events in Cardiff and Southampton saw record numbers of Coastal Partnerships joining the discussions. In light of current circumstances, this year we will be holding an online forum and hope for even greater engagement.

Our second Coastal Challenge Summit event was held last autumn. This event, co-hosted by the three coastal fora – ourselves, the Coastal Communities Alliance and the Local Government Association Coastal Special Interest Group – brings the members of each network together to share knowledge and discuss priorities for action. By working together, the three main complimentary coastal networks can encourage a larger collective voice on coastal issues at the highest levels.

Exciting things are in the pipeline for the CPN over the next six months. This Spring, the network was successful in securing an £80,000 grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Alongside the ongoing John Ellerman funds, this money will enable the next stage of the network’s strategic development and evolution to be supported. The grant will allow us to transition from a voluntary network to an organisation with a formal legal status. Alongside a clear strategy, this will mean we can effectively work to ensure that local coastal voices are represented in national and international initiatives.

We will be working with facilitator Richard Harris, from 3KQ, to guide the CPN through a Theory of Change to develop our strategy for the next five years. A Theory of Change is a methodology for participative planning and evaluation and will help us to re-define our vision and aims, our short and long-term goals and our plan for realising them.

As part of this work to consolidate and grow the network, we have welcomed Dr Sam Lew to the team. In his role as Coastal Researcher, Sam will be looking for opportunities where existing work by the Marine CoLABoration can be scaled through new collaborations. The CoLAB’s main projects centre around plastic water bottle reduction, ocean literacy and engagement around Marine Protected Areas, so we will be particularly focusing upon where capacity lies within these areas. Please visit the Marine CoLABoration website to find out more about their brilliant projects.

The Theory of Change process will begin next week, and we are excited to see where the conversation takes us! To keep up to date with the progress of the CPN, sign up to our quarterly newsletter. If you would like to find out more about the work of the CPN and our brilliant Coastal Partnerships, visit the new CPN website or contact Alice Watts (


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