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Galway Statement anniversary: a decade of marine research cooperation along and across the Atlantic Ocean

Galway Statement anniversary: a decade of marine research cooperation along and across the Atlantic Ocean

Today, the European Union together with Canada and the US, are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Galway Statement.

The Galway Statement is a cooperation agreement to join forces on Atlantic Ocean research, increase the knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and build a common path for sustainable management of this shared resource. This has been instrumental in fostering collaborative research and cross-disciplinary efforts, revolutionising the way we study ocean ecosystems including the deep sea and collaborate with international partners.

Over the past decade, the Galway Statement has garnered global recognition and catalysed a wave of initiatives, projects, and policy developments aimed at addressing the most pressing issues in ocean science. These include:

  • Boosting the restoration of marine ecosystems, protecting coastal communities which are vulnerable to the sea level rise;
  • Advancing ocean science, research and observation systems, to help vulnerable species and habitats;
  • Aligning programmes and instruments to pursue strategic common activities and address the common challenges for a more sustainable use of marine resources.    

On top of the concrete research deliverables, additional Atlantic Statements and agreements were triggered by the Galway Statement, among which the Belem Statement on Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Cooperation, and the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA).

The celebratory activities take place today in Iveagh House, Dublin (Ireland), where Tánaiste Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, will reunite high-level representatives of all the signatories, including Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union, several Ministers from countries across the Atlantic, Ambassadors, renowned scientists and international guests, to discuss the results of the cooperation and the way forward. Activities will continue on 5 and 6 July in Galway with events open to the public, co-organised by the EU, the Marine Institute and the University of Galway.

EU contribution to international ocean science diplomacy 

From an EU perspective, this science diplomacy endeavour is well recognised as a positive example of the EU Global Approach to Research and Innovation, and constitutes the international and research pillar of the EU Atlantic Strategy.

Over the last decade, the EU has invested over €300 million in projects to promote cooperation between European and international scientists from all around the Atlantic. With this same ambition, the EU has also launched new, historical initiatives, such as the Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030, with its Atlantic and Arctic lighthouse, and the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership.

These commitments and results show that the EU and its partners across and along the Atlantic are strongly committed and support the UN Decade of Ocean Science, and more broadly the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

The Marine Institute in Ireland coordinated the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Coordination and Support Action up to 2020, partners in many of the Mission Ocean initiatives and looks forward to playing a pivotal role in the implementation of the All-Atlantic Research and Innovation Alliance. The Marine Institute has recently launched its new five-year corporate strategy (2023-2027) which sets out eight strategic priorities centring on transforming the Institute’s knowledge, advice and services to benefit people, policy and planet. Ocean Knowledge that Informs and Inspires sets out a roadmap to enable Ireland to deliver on national and EU policy goals on sustainable seafood production, ocean science and management, environment and biodiversity, maritime transport, offshore renewable energy and climate action.

The University of Galway, which will host part of the Galway 10 celebrations, sees Sustaining our Planet and People as central to its research landscape with an emphasis on climate action, clean energy, ocean, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, a sustainable bioeconomy and One Health approaches.

Background

Europe and the world depend on the ocean and seas for food, as a buffer to the impacts of global warming and to provide opportunities for new human activities.

Marine littering, pollution, climate change and overexploitation are threatening our ability to sustainably use the ocean, seas and coasts.

Research and innovation are critical so we can better monitor, understand, protect, preserve and harness our ocean and seas. We can also create sustainable value from traditional and new marine and aquatic value chains and sectors.

The Galway Statement was signed by the European Union, the United States, and Canada, in May 2013, in Ireland.

Additional Atlantic Statements and agreements were signed, among which the Belem Statement on Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Cooperation that was signed by the European Union, Brazil, and South Africa in 2017. This brought in the perspective of the South Atlantic dimension. New countries joined the activities undertaken in the framework of implementing the Galway and Belem statement, which became a stronger international effort with a Pole-to-Pole dimension, resulting in an extended All-Atlantic cooperation.

These international agreements have led to a new scale of ocean science cooperation, resulting in the signature of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA) Ministerial Declaration in Washington D.C. on 13 July 2022, signed by the EU together with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Morocco, South Africa and the United States.

Since the signing of the Galway Statement, agreed under the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, Irish researchers and institutions have been at the forefront of this collaboration, coordinating several EU-funded Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects, and supporting, for example through the participation of its research vessels, the wider ocean research collaboration between the EU, US, and Canada, now extended to several new partners from along and across the Atlantic.

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