World Harbour Project

WG3 – Multiple Uses and Users

Harbours are often places with lots of stakeholders whose decisions are really important. Stakeholders – governments, national and international businesses and industries, hinterlands and forelands and communities – have not yet figured much in harbour research.

Researchers in this World Harbour Working Group have brought together knowledge of multiple harbours that deal with multiple users. Harbours are associated with many activities and uses.

Transportation and commercial activities are usually dominant, but there are also residential, recreational, traditional and spiritual activities that all essentially focus on a harbour. Great harbour managers recognise that the varied requirements of stakeholders makes it essential to understand and govern the multiple uses and users of these spaces.

Good ideas need to be shared. New innovations are needed. Research already shows that managing coastal conflict is important to everyone. WG3 aims to promote the integration of human and biophysical sciences and highlight the gaps between harbour users, so that research can improve the ‘know what’ as well as the ‘know how’.

For more information on this workgroup, contact


Click here to access the World Harbour Project publications archive.


Should you be interested in becoming a research or commercial partner of the WHP, or simply require further information on any aspect of the project globally, please phone +61 2 9435 4600 or email


Harbours have both unique and universal ways of responding to those that use the natural resources of the sea and the land.

Examples of the great opportunities, challenges and conflicts that exist in harbours have been shared in the leading MARE conference and submitted to an open access journal. Research on Qingdao (China), Jakarta (Indonesia), Plymouth (UK), Sydney (Australia), Ria de Vigo (Spain), Auckland (New Zealand) and Crete (Greece) provided important insights into what researchers, managers and others can learn from comparisons of harbours and their management.

The group presented a MARE conference paper (Panel 3 Thursday June 24th, 2015) and has published  Conflicts in some of the World harbours: What needs to happen next? (Open Access) in Maritime Studies.

So now, framed with a research agenda that includes integration, risk appreciation, future scenarios and other approaches, this working group works in important and increasingly contentious environments. What is next? We are currently working to develop knowledge about the futures of multiple uses in harbours and hope to present results in Amsterdam at MARE2017.

If you would like to be involved please let us know.


The development of artificial structures (e.g. breakwaters, reefs and seawalls) in urban harbours can have widespread ecological impacts.

However, attention is turning to green engineering techniques (e.g. designing structures that support rather than degrade their surrounding ecosystems) to restore the coastal environment.

This project aims to compare and contrast global community perceptions of green engineering in order to improve understanding, identify new knowledge needs, and attract research effort and investments.

This study is a collaboration between Working Group 2: Green Engineering and Working Group 3: Multiple Uses and Users. We will use an online survey method in combination with an online mapping exercise to investigate a number of hypotheses, the results of which we plan to feed back to harbour managers.


This project aims to discover if futures are underway and if that is improving the current and future outcomes for the users.

The engagement of people in visioning harbour futures improves understanding, identifies new knowledge needs, and attracts research effort and investments.

This project contributes to the ongoing activities of the larger World Harbour Project launched in 2015 at the IUCN. Lead by Working Group 3 it relates to and adds to the other projects across a global network of researchers, managers and decision-makers.

This meets an identified knowledge gap about harbour-based conflicts (Pearson, Windupranata et al. 2016) and a recommended action to make the values of users explicit using futuring or foresighting activities in a theory of change.

A questionnaire about the futures of harbours is underway for this project. The participant approach forms part of an experience-research-to-practice chain (Delgado-Serrano, Vanwildemeersch et al. 2016). Foresight also help interdisciplinary and integrated views that improve adaptive approaches in theory, policy and practice (Morf et al., 2013).

Participation of the full range of users and including marginalised users, is seen as a key innovation to improve the rigour, relevance, and reach of science (Diaz, Johnson et al. 2015). It also reduces the risk of undesirable futures becoming realities in harbours.

The future outcomes will be an active community of interest, results of the questionnaire and peer-reviewed publications. From these we will develop proposals to run collaborative and harbour specific projects.

This project adds to the World Harbour participants local capacity that makes participation work, it helps incorporate long-term considerations and increases the usefulness of future scenarios to manage conflict and contributes to reducing the risk of undesirable futures unfolding in the complex environments of harbours.

References: – Delgado-Serrano, M. d. M., P. Vanwildemeersch, S. London, C. Ortiz-Guerrero, R. Escalante Semerena and M. Rojas (2016). “Adapting prospective structural analysis to strengthen sustainable management and capacity building in community-based natural resource management contexts.” Ecology and Society 21(2). – Diaz, A. E. K., C. R. S. Johnson and T. A. Arcury (2015). “Perceptions that influence the maintenance of scientific integrity in community-based participatory research.” Health Education & Behavior 42(3): 393-401. – Pearson, S., W. Windupranata, S. Widodo Pranowo, A. Putri, Y. Ma, A. Vila-Concejo, E. Fernández, G. Méndez, J. Banks, A. M. Knights, L. B. Firth, B. Bollard Breen, R. Jarvis, D. Aguirre, S. Chen, A. N. Howard Smith, E. Johnston, P. Steinberg, E. Chatzinikolaou and C. Arvanitidis (2016). “Conflicts in some of the world harbours: what needs to happen next?” Maritime Studies 15: 10.