Tropical coasts are among the world’s most productive ecosystems, assuring in manifold ways the livelihoods of millions of people. At the same time, the ecological, social, and economic effects of global transformations become particularly apparent at tropical coasts. Drivers such as climate change, overexploitation of resources, pollution, and urbanisation will continue to alter the social-ecological and socio-economic structures deeply and pose challenges with regard to a sustainable management of coastal ecosystems.

For addressing these challenges in their complexity, inter- and transdisciplinary approaches for the development of solution- and impact-oriented responses at different levels – locally, nationally, regionally, and globally – have proven to be pertinent.

ZMT strives for such an integrated approach in its research programme which is structured in five programme areas. By bringing together scientists form different disciplinary backgrounds working on overarching research questions, the programme areas assure framework conditions conducive for inter- and transdisciplinary research, as well as capacity development, and knowledge exchange in close cooperation with international partners in the tropics.

The five programme areas are:

Programme Area 1: Coastal Resources and Sustainable Blue Economy

Programme Area 2: Global Change Impacts and Adaptation

Programme Area 3: Land-Ocean Fluxes and Transformation

Programme Area 4: Ecosystem Co-Design towards a Sustainable Anthropocene

Programme Area 5: Ocean Literacy, Equity and Leadership

Each programme area is headed by an interdisciplinary team of two programme area leaders. Scientific working groups and senior scientists have a primary affiliation to one programme area (cf. organigramme), while contributions to other programme areas via projects, publications and support to early career researchers are part of our interdisciplinary and agile scientific working culture.