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OKEANO – supporting the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance

OKEANO – supporting the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance

Through a large-scale basin effort, representatives of 16 organisations from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Cabo Verde, France, Germany, Ireland, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain have joined forces to establish the OKEANO Coordination and Support Action (CSA). Funded under Horizon Europe to support the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance (AAORIA), OKEANO marks a significant milestone in the journey towards sustainable management of the Atlantic Ocean. OKEANO seamlessly follows its two successful predecessor CSAs, the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) and the All-Atlantic Cooperation for Ocean Research and innovation (AANChOR).  

Main objectives of OKEANO

The main objective of OKEANO is to provide coordination and support to the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance, ensuring effective governance, cooperation, and communication amongst signatories, across the Atlantic Ocean, from pole to pole. OKEANO aims to facilitate dialogue and cooperation at local, national, and international levels, to consolidate existing initiatives and to tackle socio-environmental issues in the Atlantic region, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, ecosystem protection and restoration, and sustainable and inclusive ocean economies.

The All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance

Signed in 2022, the AAORIA Declaration builds on the foundations of the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation and the Belém Statement on Atlantic Research and Innovation Cooperation. Furthermore, its objectives align with the EU’s priorities outlined in the European Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030, the Partnership for a climate-neutral sustainable and productive blue economy, the European Green Deal, and international dimension of the EU Atlantic Action Plan.

With AAORIA’s motto being ‘Connecting-Cooperating-Acting’, OKEANO will serve to scale and transition the Alliance to a long-term, sustainable, and highly impactful international partnership, capable of delivering transformative science and innovation, and concrete benefits for Atlantic communities.

OKEANO kick-off meeting in Brussels

The inaugural meeting of OKEANO was held on 7-8 March 2024 at the JPI Oceans Secretariat in Brussels.

The kick-off meeting, attended by project partners and representatives of the European Commission, focused on outlining detailed methodologies for achieving the project’s strategic objectives. Dr. Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Services at the Marine Institute, and Coordinator of OKEANO, chaired the meeting, with Dr. John Bell, Director of Healthy Planet at the European Commission outlining the vision for the next phase of the Alliance. Participants discussed the work plan for the CSA, emphasising inclusivity, international cooperation, and active societal engagement. The importance of facilitating access to a diversity of relevant data, knowledge, expertise, capacities, and resources was addressed, positioning OKEANO as a pivotal point of contact to link scientists, researchers, public and private stakeholders, including civil society and youth.

“The OKEANO project is ready to support and contribute to the goals of a growing and dynamic Alliance” noted Dr. Niall McDonough from the Marine Institute and Coordinator of OKEANO. “Through its range of planned activities and strong international partnership we are committed to reaching and empowering communities across the entirety of the Atlantic to respond to the complex challenges presented by issues such as climate change and ecosystem protection and restoration”.

Focus areas of OKEANO

  • Enhancing governance and coordination – led by the Marine Institute (Ireland)

Providing professional support and coordination for the All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Alliance governance, organisation, monitoring, and outreach activities.

  • Facilitating dialogue across stakeholders – led by the AIR Centre (Portugal)

Fostering collaborations with different organisations, and facilitating structured dialogue and coordination at local, national, international, and multilateral levels between AAORIA and relevant stakeholders.

  • Supporting and consolidating existing initiatives – led by IFREMER (France)

Supporting and consolidating existing AAORIA initiatives, including capacity building for early-career ocean professionals (ECOPs) and youth to promote sustainability and community engagement along the Atlantic Ocean shores.

  • Development of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda – led by KDM (Germany)

Developing an All-Atlantic Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda aligned with the priorities identified in the AAORIA Declaration to foster knowledge exchange, innovation, and benefit to local communities across the Atlantic.

  • Maximising impact through communication and outreach – led by JPI Oceans (Belgium)

Maximising the impact of the OKEANO CSA and supporting communication of AAORIA through effective dissemination, exploitation, and communication measures.

  • Co-design and implementation of All-Atlantic Fora – led by the Marine Institute (Ireland)

Co-designing and implementing international All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation Fora to strengthen scientific cooperation and shared goals as outlined in the AAORIA Declaration.

Future perspectives

Looking ahead, OKEANO aims to foster a robust All-Atlantic Ocean Research and Innovation community, promoting cooperation, innovation, and sustainable development across the Atlantic basin. By leveraging the collective expertise and resources of its diverse consortium, OKEANO is poised to support AAORIA in continuing as a long-lasting and robust community.