Important shift for marine and maritime research:
A blue future for Europe
Norwegian researchers and research administrators played a key role when representatives of the European marine and maritime research community recently hammered out the foundation for setting research priorities for the coming decade.
The principles are laid out in the Ostend Declaration, which was presented to the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, at the conclusion of the EurOCEAN 2010 conference held on 12-13 October in Ostend, Belgium.
“Ensuring healthy and productive seas and oceans is one of the Grand Challenges we are facing in the 21st century,” stated Lars Horn, chair of the strategic research body Marine Board-ESF and Department Director at the Research Council, as he handed over the document.
Enhancing existing cooperation
Researchers across Europe are already collaborating closely to safeguard the potential of the seas and oceans, which is essential in the context of job creation and human health and well-being. Nevertheless, further intensification of joint activities is needed. In the declaration, a unified European marine and maritime research community describes the conditions and identifies the challenges that individual countries and research at large will be facing in the coming years.
“More large-scale, multinational research programmes will be needed if we are to meet these challenges,” said Mr Horn, citing the Joint Programming Initiative on Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) as a good example.
Monitoring and knowledge-sharing
Joint infrastructure is also vital to strengthening pan-European cooperation. “The establishment of an improved common system for observing changes and monitoring developments is essential to our work to safeguard the future health of our seas,” asserted Mr Horn. To this end the Ostend Declaration recommends the establishment of an Integrated European Ocean Observing System.
Knowledge building and sharing was high on the conference agenda. “The marine science community needs to share data, information and knowledge not only with its European neighbours,” stressed Mr Horn, “but with the global science community – particularly in the developing world.” He also emphasised that “training the next generation of scientists will be crucial to maintaining the position Europe has in ocean science.”
JPI Oceans in full swing
In 2009, Norway, together with Belgium and Spain, proposed the establishment of a large-scale, joint European initiative on healthy and productive seas and oceans. The JPI Oceans has now been launched and is well underway. Norwegian Kathrine Angell-Hansen is director of the programme secretariat at the Research Council’s Liaison Office in Brussels.
“Tackling challenges while at the same time developing new and traditional marine and maritime industries will require viewing the seas and oceans in an integrated perspective. The programme was established precisely to take such an integrated approach,” explained Deputy Director General Christina Abildgaard of the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs when she presented the JPI Oceans at the EurOCEAN 2010 conference.
The programme recently launched its own website: www.jpi-oceans.eu.
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