Atsushi Watanabe studied geography and earth and planetary science at the University of Tokyo. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the graduate school of environmental studies at Nagoya University from 2004 to 2007 and at the Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center (HyARC) at Nagoya University from 2007 to 2008, and as an assistant professor at the graduate school of information science and engineering at Tokyo Institute of Technology from 2008-2018. He studied material (especially carbon) cycles in coral reefs, coastal seas, and coastal blue carbon ecosystems and the impact of climate change or local stressors on these ecosystems.
Since 2018, he has been working as a senior research fellow of the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, leading the blue economy and blue carbon policy researches. His current research interest is the policies to strengthen resilience of coastal communities through sustainable use of coastal ecosystems and resources and the creation of economically viable livelihoods. He acts as a councilor of the International Coral Reef Society and a representative of the Japanese Coral Reef Society. He holds a doctor degree in Science (2004, Univ. Tokyo).
Throughout his academic career, he undertook intensive and extensive fieldwork in Okinawa, Palau, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere. He also has experienced over 20 research cruises in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines for conducting oceanographic observation in the Japan Sea, East China Sea, and the Philippine Sea.