Dr Leslie Mabon

        Dr Leslie Mabon

Senior Lecturer in Social Science

Environmental social scientist studying how society understands and responds to change in the sea and on the coast. Especially interested in resilient cities and communities in the coastal zone, governance of new and complex risks, and in inter- and transdisciplinary working.

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My research addresses the social and cultural dimensions of environmental change. I also have a strong interest in the interdisciplinary research process itself. I am particularly interested in environmental issues that are not so clear cut and ‘easy’ to address – for example, where there is a clearly-defined technical and scientific course of action to be followed, which might have to be balanced with what is considered socially acceptable or desirable. I explore these issues through two sub-areas of research:

(b) policy and governance for climate change adaptation at the regional, city and local level. Within this, I focus on equity and justice issues within nature-based solutions as a resilience strategy for cities and communities in the coastal zone. I have looked at these issues in depth for Fukuoka (Japan); Taipei (Taiwan); and Nam Dinh Province/Quang Nam Province (Vietnam);

(a) risk, environmental infrastructure and the coastal and marine environment. I am interested in how environmental change impacts upon socially and culturally meaningful activities, and what the effects of this may be. Key research sites include coastal Fukushima Prefecture (Japan) following the 2011 nuclear disaster; and Tomakomai City in Hokkaido (Japan), which hosts Japan’s first demonstration of sub-seabed carbon dioxide storage.


Current projects

Hydrogen Storage in Porous Media (HyStorPor)

Project assessing potential of subsurface geological formations for seasonal hydrogen storage to meet energy demands. Dr Mabon leads WP4 on public and stakeholder understanding.

Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Building Social Resilience to Environmental Change in Marginalised Coastal Communities:

PI for interdisciplinary UK-Japan research network into coastal resilience. Project connects environmental social science (SAMS); marine law (Robert Gordon University); integrated coastal zone management (Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology); and marine biology (Marine Ecology Research Institute).

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council.


Past projects

Assessing Energy Precarity in Sub-Tropical Asian Cities

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, 2017-18. 

PI on project to understand climate adaptation strategies and effects on energy in 3x subtropical Asian cities (Taipei, Taiwan; Hanoi, Vietnam; Fukuoka, Japan). Connect partners from Taiwan (Ming-Chuan University); Vietnam (University of Science and Technology Hanoi); and Japan (Kyushu University).

Towards methodologies for assessing effects of climate change on coastal communities – Vietnam and Scotland

Funder: British Academy, 2016-17

PI on collaborative project with Institute of Human Geography, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. Field-based research into effects of climate change on coastal livelihoods in Nam Dinh Province, Vietnam.

Environmental Change and Risk in Coastal Communities

Funder: Japan Foundation Fellowship, 2014

Awarded Fellowship from Japan Foundation to undertake visiting position at Tokyo.

Peer-reviewed publications

Mabon L, Shih W-Y (2021) 'Urban greenspace as a climate change adaptation strategy for subtropical Asian cities: A comparative study across cities in three countries'. Global Environmental Change 68: 102248. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2021.102248

Fan, M-F, Chiu, C-M, and Mabon L (2020) ‘Environmental justice and the politics of pollution: the case of the Formosa Ha Tinh Steel pollution incident in Vietnam’ Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space DOI: 10.1177/2514848620973164;
Kondo, K, Mabon, L, Bi, Y, Chen, Y, and Hayabuchi, Y (2020) ‘Balancing conflicting mitigation and adaptation behaviours of urban residents under climate change and the urban heat island effect’  Sustainable Cities and Society DOI: 10.1016/j.scs.2020.102585;
Huang, Y-C and Mabon L (2020) ‘Coastal landscapes, sustainable consumption and peripheral communities: evaluating the Miramar Resort controversy in Shanyuan Bay, Taiwan’ Marine Policy DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2020.104283;
Mabon, L, Kawabe, M, Huang, Y-C, Moller, L, Gu, J, Wakamori, D, Narita, K, Ito, T, Matsumoto, A, Niizeki, K, Suzuki, S, and Watanabe, M (2020) ‘Inherent resilience, major marine environmental change and revitalisation of coastal communities in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan’ International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction DOI: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101852;
Mabon, L, Nguyen Song Tung, Pham Thi Tram, Tran Thi Tuyet, Doan Thi Thu Huong, Le Hong Ngoc, Hoang Thi Ngoc Ha, Mueller-Hirth, N, and Vertigans, S (2020) ‘Elaborating a people-centered approach to understanding sustainable livelihoods under climate and environmental change: Thang Binh District, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam’ Sustainability Science DOI: 10.1007/s11625-020-00861-3;
Carver R, Childs J, Steinberg P, Mabon L, Matsuda H, Squire R, McLellan B and Esteban M (2020) ‘A critical social perspective on deep sea mining: Lessons from the emergent industry in Japan’ Ocean and Coastal Management DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2020.105242;
Mabon, L (2020) ‘A historical approach to understanding governance of extreme urban heat in Fukuoka, Japan’ Disaster Prevention and Management DOI: 10.1108/DPM-01-2020-0010;
Mabon L (2020) ‘Environmental justice in urban greening for subtropical Asian cities: the view from Taipei’ Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography DOI: 10.1111/sjtg.12341;

Mabon, L, Kita, J, Onchi, H, Kawabe, M, Katano, T, Kohno, H, and Huang, Y-C (2020) 'What natural and social scientists need from each other for effective marine environmental assessment: insights from collaborative research on the Tomakomai CCS Demonstration Project' Marine Pollution Bulletin  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111520

Shih W-Y, Ahmad S, Chen Y-C, Lin T-P and Mabon L (2020) Spatial relationship between land development pattern and intra-urban thermal variations in Taipei. Sustainable Cities and Society 62: 102415 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102415

Huang Y-C, Fan M-F, Yang C-Y, and Mabon, L (2019) ‘Social science studies of the environment in Taiwan: what can the international community learn from work published within Taiwan?’ Local Environment DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2019.1693987

Swennenhuis F, Mabon L, Flach T, and de Coninck H (2019) ‘What role for CCS in delivering Just Transitions? An evaluation of the North Sea Region’ International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control DOI: 10.1016/j.ijggc.2019.102903;

Mabon L (2019) ‘Making climate information services accessible to communities: what can we learn from environmental risk communication research?’ Urban Climate DOI: 10.1016/j.uclim.2019.100537

Shih W-Y, Mabon L and Puppim de Oliveira J (2019) ‘Assessing Barriers to Local Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Governance through an International Survey’ Land Use Policy DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.104291;

Alcalde J, Heinemann N, Mabon L, Worden R, de Coninck H, Robertson H, Maver M, Ghanbari S, Swennenhuis F, Mann I, Walker T, Gomersal S, Bond C, Allen M, Haszeldine S, James A, Mackay E, Brownsort P, Faulkner D and Murphy S (2019) ‘Acorn: Developing Full-chain Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage in a Resource- and Infrastructure-Rich Hydrocarbon Province’ Journal of Cleaner Production 233: 963-971.

Mabon L, Kondo K, Kanekiyo H, Hayabuchi Y and Yamaguchi A (2019) Fukuoka: Adapting to climate change through urban green space and the built environment?' Cities DOI 10.1016/j.cities.2019.05.007;

Mabon L, Shih W-Y, Kondo K, Kanekiyo H and Hayabuchi Y (2019) 'What is the role of epistemic communities in local climate change adaptation? Understanding the evolving relationship between research and policy for the planned environment in Fukuoka City, Japan' Geoforum DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2019.04.024

Mabon L (2019) ‘Enhancing post-disaster resilience by ‘building back greener’: evaluating the contribution of nature-based solutions to recovery planning in Futaba County, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan’ Landscape and Urban Planning DOI: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.03.013;

Yuill, C, Mueller-Hirth, N, Nguyen Song Tung, Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, Pham Thi Tram and Mabon, L (2019) ‘Landscape and wellbeing: a conceptual framework and an example’ Health 23: 122-138;

Mabon, L and Shih, W-Y (2018) 'Mapping the socio-political landscape of heat mitigation through urban greenspaces: the case of Taipei Metropolis' Environment and Urbanization DOI: 10.1177/0956247818767318

Mabon, L and Shih, W-Y (2018) 'What might 'just green enough' urban development mean in the context of climate change adaptation? The case of Taipei Metropolis, Taiwan' World Development DOI:10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.02.035;

Yin, BCL, Laing, R, Leon, M, and Mabon, L (2018) ‘An evaluation of sustainable construction perceptions and practices in Singapore’ Sustainable Cities and Society DOI: 10.1016/j.scs.2018.03.024;

Mabon L, Nguyen Song Tung, Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, Pham Thi Tram, Cao Thi Thanh Nga, Le Thu Quynh, Dang Thanh Trung, Nguyen Thi Huyen Thu, Nguyen Thi Bich Nguyet, Le Hong Ngoc, Tran Thi Tuyet, Bui Thi Cam Tu, Tran Ngoc Anh, Mueller-Hirth N and Yuill C (2018) ‘Bringing social and cultural considerations into environmental management for vulnerable coastal communities: responses to environmental change in Xuan Thuy National Park, Nam Dinh Province, Vietnam’ Ocean and Coastal Management DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2018.03.022;

Mabon, L and Shih, W-Y (2018) ‘Management of sustainability transitions through planning in shrinking resource city contexts: an evaluation of Yubari City, Japan’ Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2018.1443004;

Shih, W-Y and Mabon, L (2017) 'Land use planning as a tool for balancing the scientific and the social in biodiversity and ecosystem services mainstreaming? The case of Durban, South Africa.' Journal of Environmental Planning and Management DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2017.1394277;

Mabon, L, Kita, J and Xue, Z (2017) ‘Challenges for social impact assessment in coastal regions: a case study of the Tomakomai CCS project’ Marine Policy 83: 243-251;

Mabon, L and Kawabe, M (2017) ‘Making sense of complexity in risk governance in post-disaster Fukushima fisheries: a scalar approach’ Environmental Science and Policy 75: 173-183;

Mabon, L (2016) ‘Using Google Street View to chart disaster recovery: a social science perspective on challenges and limitations raised by the case of the Fukushima nuclear disaster’ International Journal of Disaster Risk Science 7 (2): 175-185;

Mabon, L and Kawabe, M (2016) ‘Engagement on risk and uncertainty – lessons from coastal regions of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan after the 2011 disaster?’ Journal of Risk Research DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2016.1200658;

Mabon, L and Littlecott, C (2016) ‘Stakeholder and public perceptions of CO2-EOR in the context of CCS – results from UK focus groups and implications for policy’ International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 49: 128-137;

Mabon, L and Kawabe, M (2015) ‘Fisheries in Iwaki after the Fukushima Dai’ichi nuclear accident: lessons for coastal management under conditions of high uncertainty?’ Coastal Management 43 (5): 498-518;

Mabon, L, Shackley, S, Blackford, J, Stahl, H and Miller, A (2015) ‘Local perceptions of the QICS experimental offshore CO2 release: results from social science research’ International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 38: 18-25;

Mabon, L, Shackley, S, Vercelli, S, Anderlucci, J, and Boot, K (2015) ‘Deliberative decarbonisation? Exploring a framework of ethical governance for low-carbon energy’ Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 33 (2): 256-271;

Kaiser, M, Brunsting, S, Mastop, J, Zimmer, R, Shackley, S, Mabon, L, and Howell, R (2015) ‘CCS acceptability: social site characterization and advancing awareness at prospective storage sites in Poland and Scotland’ Oil and Gas Science and Technology 70 (4): 767-784;

Mabon, L, and Shackley, S (2015) ‘More than meeting the targets? The ethical dimensions of carbon dioxide capture and storage’ Environmental Values 24: 465-482;

Howell, R, Shackley, S, Mabon, L, Ashworth, P, and Jeanneret, T (2014) ‘Engaging the public with low-carbon energy technologies: results from a Scottish large group process’ Energy Policy 66: 496-506;

Mabon, L, Shackley, S, and Bower-Bir, N (2014) ‘Perceptions of sub-seabed carbon dioxide storage in Scotland and implications for policy: A qualitative study’ Marine Policy 45: 9-15;

Mabon, L (2012) ‘Values, places and bodies: opportunities for forging a deeper understanding of public perceptions of CCS?’ Energy and Environment 23 (2-3): 329-343.


Other publications 

Mabon L and Kawabe M (in press) ‘Fighting against harmful rumours, or for fisheries? Evaluating framings and narrations of risk governance in marine radiation after the Fukushima nuclear accident’ in Cortesi L and Joy KJ (eds) Split Waters: Examining Water Conflicts and Their Narration Routledge: London;

Shih W-Y and Mabon L (in press) ‘Ways of creating usable, multipurpose greenspace in impoverished settlements in cities of the Global South: Urban Growth, Green Infrastructure Loss and Spatial Inequity under Climate Change in Hanoi, Vietnam’ In Douglas I et al (eds) Routledge Handbook of Urban Ecology (Second Edition) Routledge: London

Mabon L (2018) ‘Balancing industry, identity and the environment: how a carbon-intensive city in northern Japan is narrating a low-carbon transition’ RSA Regions Volume 2: DOI: 10.1080/13673882.2018.00001016

Mabon L and Shih W-Y (2018) ‘Getting Buy-in for Climate Change Adaptation through Urban Planning: Climate Change Communication as a Two-way Process’ In: Leal W, Azeiteiro U, Manolas E, and Azul A.M (eds) Handbook of Climate Change Communication Springer: New York pp 61-75;

Mabon, L, and Kawabe, M (2017) ‘‘If over a hundred Becquerels is no good, then what does fifty Becquerels mean?’ Governing fisheries and marine radiation in Japan after the Fukushima nuclear accident’ in Baghel, R, Stepan, L, and Hill, J (eds) Water, Knowledge and the Environment in Asia: Epistemologies, Practices and Locales Earthscan: London pp19-35

Current research students 

Yi-Chen Huang: Examining the effect of Taiwan’s policy toward carbon reduction for motorcyclists. PhD Feb 2018-Jan 2022, Robert Gordon University.

Mariana Xavier Nicolletti: Social Learning contributions for adaptation policies to climate change in cities using nature-based solutions. PhD Jan 2018-Jan 2022 (Sandwich Year Supervisor in UK – December 2018-June 2019), Fundacao Getulio Vargas (Brazil).

Expert advice to regulators / government

Minamisoma City Government ‘Reconstruction University’ Initiative – Let’s Talk about the Sea and Fish of Minamisoma (2017-2019 (PI: Prof Midori Kawabe, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Japan) – analysis of social media responses to fisheries produce from Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture, to support revitalisation of Minamisoma fisheries.


Outreach/public engagement

Guest lecture: Nature and Green Space in Coastal Fukushima, Japan Consulate of Edinburgh, 27 February 2019;

Expert participant: One Day to Play/The Fierce Urgency of Now, National Theatre of Scotland/Aberdeen Performing Arts/Peacock Visual Arts; 30 November-1 December 2018;

Discussant: Anote’s Ark Film Screening, Take One Action’s Fourth Aberdeen Film Festival, 18 November 2018 (in association with Christian Aid and Oxfam Scotland);

Speaker/panellist: Associates' Social: Presentation and conversation with Manami Sato, W OR M, Aberdeen, 15 November 2018;

Film screening and discussion: Over the Sky (with Director Toko Shiiki), Aberdeen Science Centre, Aberdeen, 12 October 2018;

Guest lecture: Climate change responses at the local level: comparing Scotland and Fukuoka, Fukuoka Committee on Climate Change Action, Fukuoka, 25 April 2018 (in Japanese).


Professional memberships

Since 2016: Member of the Regional Studies Association

2018-present: Member of Young Academy of Scotland


Other professional responsibilities 

Invited international expert, Ministry of Science and Technology Young Scholar Forum, Tainan, Taiwan, 13-15 August 2019

‘Working across and between disciplines in marine and coastal research: thoughts from the field’ Invited speaker at MEOPAR Interdisciplinary Research Forum, Ottawa, Canada, 28 September 2016

‘Social and economic risks associated with marine resource development: the case of Scotland’ Invited speaker at SIP Environmental and Social Impact Assessment International Workshop, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Japan, 1 March 2016

Reviewer for international peer-reviewed journals including: Weather, Climate and Society; Environmental Sociology; Science of the Total Environment; Environment, Development and Sustainability; BMC Public Health; International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control; Journal of Risk Research; International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction; Land Use Policy; Energy Research and Social Science; Marine Policy.

Proposal reviewer for Natural Environment Research Council, Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, and Routledge for Geography book series.


Employment history

2018-2019: Reader in Environment and Society. Robert Gordon University

2017-18: Senior Lecturer in Sociology. Robert Gordon University

2014-2017: Lecturer in Sociology. Robert Gordon University

2011-2014: Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Low-Carbon Society. University of Edinburgh


Other affiliations

2016: Guest Researcher at CO2 Storage Group, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, Japan

2014/2020: Guest Researcher at Department for Marine Policy and Culture, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Japan


Education qualifications

2012 PhD Geography. University of Edinburgh

2008 MSc (Research) Human Geography. University of Edinburgh

2007 MA (Hons) Geography. University of Edinburgh

I have undertaken consultancy work across a number of sectors relating to my research, particularly in relation to: evaluation of policy and of community engagement for climate change adaptation; risk communication for new coastal and subsea technologies; and assessing public and stakeholder perception of new energy technologies. Examples of recent consultancy work include:

Development of evaluation framework and assessment of national-level competences for climate change adaptation in Scotland for the Scottish Government-supported Traction project (managed by Sniffer and International Institute for Environment and Development);

Delivery of training workshops and public lectures on risk communication and societal impact assessment for sub-seabed carbon dioxide storage in Japan, for the Japan CCS Company and Engineering Advancement Association of Japan;

Leadership of public perceptions work programme (focus group-based research) for the CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery Joint Industry Project, led by Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage in association with industry partners.