In almost 5 years of activity, the All-Atlantic Cooperation for Ocean Research and Innovation project (AANChOR) engaged All-Atlantic stakeholders in co-design and co-implementation of joint activities reinforcing Atlantic international research and innovation cooperation, upscaled cooperation with countries bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, in particular Brazil and South Africa, and built on, aligned and converged national initiatives in the Atlantic Ocean. These actions reinforced capacity building, promoted citizen awareness and literacy on ocean issues, supported marine research infrastructure sharing, promoted knowledge transfer for ocean innovation and economy, developed common standards for ocean data, and contributed to national, European, and international strategies. The contribution of the AANChOR project to upscale cooperation along and across the Atlantic Ocean and to create long-term partnerships, supporting the implementation of the Belém Statement and its related All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance, can be divided in the Alliance three main pillars – Connect, Act, Cooperate (find the infographic here).
The creation of the All-Atlantic multi-stakeholder-platform, divided into 5 sub-multiple stakeholder platforms, was the start of the Connect pillar. The platform gathered 70+ All-Atlantic expert stakeholders from 18 Atlantic countries. Two other activities highly contributed to creating and strengthening the connectivity among the All-Atlantic stakeholders: the support of AANChOR to 3 All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Forums, and the development of a global portal for the All-Atlantic cooperation – allatlanticocean.org, where all Alliance-related activities are included. The portal has currently 1000+ users, while the connection activities allowed the Alliance to reach more than 18,000 stakeholders from 44 European and Atlantic bordering countries from diverse backgrounds (researchers, entrepreneurs, science managers, policymakers, early career scientists, and students).
With the aim to build on existing initiatives and to collaborate in an innovative way, the experts in the All-Atlantic multi-stakeholder-platform identified more than 800 existing Atlantic initiatives that can contribute to the implementation of the Alliance’s ambition and aims of the All-Atlantic Marine Research and Innovation Database. Based on this database and on the 56 All-Atlantic gaps and 79 All-Atlantic needs/recommendations, the experts co-designed 6 ambitious and long-term Joint Pilot Actions (AA-TP; AA-ATiP; AA-BIOTECMAR; AA-DATA2030; AA-BSN; AA-MARINET). They are the main implementing initiatives of the AANChOR project, supporting the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance with their results and strategic inputs. Another activity that allows stakeholders to act together is the collection of more than 250 relevant All-Atlantic Resources, which can be accessed via the All-Atlantic portal. Several activities were also implemented to empower and train the next generation of ocean leaders under the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors Programme. Through the AANChOR project, this programme engaged 26 ambassadors from 15 countries and 12 mentors, providing them with an opportunity to participate in various trainings, seminars, events (the EU4Ocean Ocean Literacy Festival, the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forums, the UN Ocean Decade kick-off conference, the UNFCCC COP26 and the One Ocean Summit) and other activities – giving them tools and contacts to become drivers of change in their communities. The ambassadors developed the “Bridging the Ocean” booklet, aimed at bringing awareness on ocean concepts and the challenges threatening the ocean. In addition, 18 All-Atlantic Podcasts exploring collaboration efforts around the Alliance’s key priority themes were published, and 10 All-Atlantic storytelling videos were supported, followed by a training workshop providing simple narratives and compelling storytelling techniques to All-Atlantic researchers.
In this pillar, AANChOR supported the 6 Joint Pilot Actions prior mentioned through the provision of a 3,800€ seed funding for their first implementation stage. In addition, AANChOR has actively participated in clustering meetings with All-Atlantic projects, with the aim to strengthen the All-Atlantic community. Needs for the long-term implementation of the Joint Pilot Actions were also identified, supporting the development of initial drafts for the Actions’ sustainability beyond the lifetime of AANChOR.
The main legacy of the AANChOR project is the All-Atlantic community and the Joint Pilot Actions which will allow the continuation of the cooperation. The development of single communications channels (the portal, YouTube channel, and Alliance hashtags – #AtlanticAll and #AtlanticYouth) are another legacy of the project, as well as the two databases developed (initiatives and resources).
In the scope of their activities, the 6 All-Atlantic Pilot Actions organised 18 training activities, including 3 on-site and several online courses and workshops; implemented 136 synergies with existing Atlantic projects and initiatives and 3 synergies with European research infrastructures; developed 14 strategic documents, including white papers, roadmaps, action plans, terms of reference, statutes, guidelines, and recommendations; and contributed to a few national, European and international strategies, such as the National Plan for Implementation of the UN Ocean Decade in Brazil, the Canadian Strategy for Ocean Literacy, the National Sea Strategy in Portugal, the National Aquaculture strategy in Brazil, the National Aquaculture strategy in South Africa, the Leibniz Association’s Open Science Directive, the UN Ocean Decade, the Agenda 2030, the Atlantic Strategy and Action Plan, the EU Blue Growth Strategy, the EU International Ocean Governance Communication and the EU Food 2030.
Overall, in these last 5 years, the AANChOR project strengthened international research and innovation cooperation through a dynamic All-Atlantic community, with several external collaborations whom we need to thank for their availability and commitment. The All-Atlantic community is now a reality!
Stay tuned for more to come on the All-Atlantic Cooperation for Ocean Research and Innovation!