The purpose of this special issue is to consider a number of contemporary issues related to coastal and marine governance in the UK. This is a particularly pertinent geographical question at this time, as coastal and marine spaces are at the forefront of a number of important challenges for the UK, and governance structures are a key influence on how these issues can be tackled (McFadden 2007). The first and most obvious issue is climate change, the impacts of which are likely to be felt at the coast before anywhere else, perhaps through increased flood severity and frequency, increased erosion, and greater land instability. Second, the UK’s coastal spaces are under immense socioeconomic pressure for development and exploitation, for tourism, port infrastructure, residential development, and more recently, for environmental mitigation schemes, managed realignment sites, and compensatory habitat. Third, is the changing pattern of the use of the UK’s marine environment, including a reduction in fishing activity and an expansion of both the offshore renewable energy and cruise tourism sectors. These challenges form the context for the central question of this special issue: how to establish an effective governance framework for the UK’s coastal and marine environment.