Stakeholder Discussions

Listening to: Marine experts / Medical experts / Policy makers / Public / Stakeholders

This activity listened to a broad mix of people, from different backgrounds and disciplines across Europe, to define future oceans and human health research priorities.

Identifying the research needed to maximise the health and wellbeing benefits of marine and coastal environments is a complex issue. It affects numerous people and organisations, and no one person or group is fully in charge.

Yet every person in Europe has a stake in promoting and protecting the benefits to health and wellbeing provided by the marine environment, whether it is high on their agenda or not.

Oceans and Human Health Conversations

The SOPHIE multi-actor stakeholder discussions are ensuring that all voices are heard, identifying key OHH experts, societal and citizen stakeholders, their current behaviours, and their connections with oceans and human health (OHH) systems.

These ‘OHH Conversations’ were carried out online and in-person, engaging thousands of expert and citizen stakeholders across Europe, to identify key priorities and actions for OHH. These conversations used Collective Intelligence, a methodology that specialises in facilitating group discussion and consensus building around problems and solutions.

Expert workshops

Over 800 expert stakeholders from marine and public health sectors around the world were invited to our online conversations and asked to identify their top priorities for OHH. 673 priorities were identified, falling into 26 key priority areas This started the first multi-actor, cross-country dialogue to discuss, debate and map the dynamics at work in relation to OHH.

Following our online conversations, we brought together 31 experts at a series of workshops in Dublin in February 2019 to map the dynamics between these priorities. This gathering of ocean minds included a diverse mix from clinical, medical and planetary health backgrounds, marine conservation and activism, marine policy and planning, research, tourism, education, and more.

Through the use of consensus-based Collective Intelligence method, expert stakeholders generated 2 structural priority maps and 9 calls to action to realise these priorities.

People discuss around tables with notes and posters

Lively oceans and human health discussions take place.


In an online, pan-European survey, citizens in 14 European countries have also contributed their top priorities for OHH. Over 700 of these have been categorised into 24 areas with ‘preventing pollution’ and ‘protection of the marine environment’ among the key topics.

Citizen workshops

In November 2019, 14 citizens from across Europe took part in a workshop to continue to build consensus around these priorities and solutions. Following the same process as the expert stakeholder workshops, citizens generated a structural priority map and nine calls to action.

Engaging oceans and human health discussions at citizen stakeholder workshop.


Multi-actor calls to action included topics such as ‘health benefits from the ocean’, ‘OHH governance’, ‘OHH awareness’, ‘preventing pollution’, and ‘mitigating climate change.’

Read our summary report from these workshops

Together, experts and citizens generated priorities provided a more nuanced and sophisticated OHH understanding and a highly participatory space for everyone to actively build collective leadership capacity, vision and commitment.

Meta-Analysis of Stakeholder Priorities

A meta-analysis revealed nine priority themes that are most influential for OHH in Europe, illustrated in the SOPHIE multistage influence map, read from left to right in order of greatest influence (see the figure below). This map highlights the causal processes that drive OHH dynamics in Europe.

Influence map

SOPHIE multistage influence map of stakeholder priorities for OHH in Europe.


The influence map highlights a need to link knowledge with practice in a way that can support and promote sustainable actions and greater citizen engagement. This presents opportunities for transdisciplinary research and partnership building between research scientists in OHH and marine science, social sciences and public health. Coupled with stakeholder priorities and actions, the map provides robust support for research and actions outlined in the Strategic Research Agenda.

Project partners involved

National University of Ireland, Galway

National University of Ireland, Galway

Easkey Britton

Easkey Britton

Marine Social Scientist

Christine Domegan

Christine Domegan

Behavioural Change Expert

Patricia McHugh

Patricia McHugh

Behavioural Change Expert

Related content

Resources: Reports

Citizen conversations report

This summary report describes the key findings from our oceans and human health citizen conversations.

  • Blog
  • 30 May 2018

Expert workshop #1

SOPHIE members gathered in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland in April, to take part in the first of two expert workshops.


Citizen Science Program

This project has created awareness of Oceans and Human Health issues in the tourism industry.



This pan-European survey aimed to improve our understanding of the European public’s beliefs about how marine issues affect human health and wellbeing.