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The All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the EU Green Deal

The All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance and the EU Green Deal

The Business2Sea, organised by Fórum Oceano and by the CETMAR Foundation, was held virtually from November 16th to 20th. The international event was dedicated to the interaction among people and organizations and to promote projects and businesses within the marine economy and was open to the participation of any organisation. Business2Sea aimed at strengthening the dynamics of strategic cooperation between all the marine economy stakeholders and raised social awareness about the need to protect oceans’ health are crucial aspects to benefit from its whole potential.

The Coordinator of the AANChOR CSA, Sofia Cordeiro (FCT, Portugal) participated as a speaker in the debate during the final session dedicated to the implementation of the EU Green Deal throughout the marine dimension of Horizon Europe. The EU Green Deal is the new growth strategy adopted by the European Commission at the end of 2019. The plan outlines the investments needed and the financing tools available to achieve the climate neutrality objective for 2050. Due to its cross-cutting nature, it is expected to influence any other European strategies, in particular the research and innovation (R&I) policy and, therefore, the design of the annual work programmes of Horizon Europe, its main financing instrument.

Since Horizon Europe constitutes an essential tool for the promotion of R&I throughout the marine scope, the debate focused on how both of them interweave and interact, mainly through the Cluster 6 “Food, Bioeconomy, Natural resources, Agriculture and Environment”. Within this context, the new European Partnership “A climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy” was highlighted as a relevant tool for aligning national, regional and EU R&I priorities and bringing together science, industry, governance and society to deliver knowledge and solutions to make ocean businesses sustainable.

In her talk, Sofia addressed how are the sea basin strategies collaborating and how does that come together with the new “Climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy” Partnership.  Sofia highlighted that before collaboration occurs, people and institutions need to connect and know each other. Geographically, the Atlantic Ocean is a big space. In addition, it has a multicultural dimension that you do not find in smaller sea basins. Before we work on sea basin collaboration, one should strengthen and have effective collaboration at its own sea level basin. Sofia defended that, currently, we are at this stage in the Atlantic Ocean.

The All-Atlantic Cooperation started at the bilateral level between the EU and the different Atlantic countries several years ago and they have produced excellent results. These science diplomacy efforts at the Atlantic level were geographically broadened since 2013 and now involve 6 countries plus the EU in a massive connection and collaboration effort to implement jointly. At the Atlantic level, we have three types of collaboration that we need to work on: North-North, South-South and North-South.

According to Sofia, the operational differences are the biggest issue to overcome as there is already alignment of priorities with the Signature of the Galway (2013; EU, CA, USA) and Belém (2017; EU, BR, ZA) Statements and the EU-AR and EU-CV Administrative Arrangements – All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.

The new “Climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy” Partnership is the current opportunity to bring the All-Atlantic Alliance partners to collaborate with the other sea basins. If you carefully analyse all the sea basin strategies/plans/priorities, you easily understand that the same topics appear in all. The question is how we can work together with the cultural and operational differences that exist. This is how the partnership can help with: by providing a place where we can all sit at the same table to connect, know each other, understand each other difficulties and priorities with the aim to collaborate and act together. The partnership needs to capitalize on the efforts being developed at different sea basins.

The session also covered the integration of the EU Green Deal with the various sea basin workplans. Sofia began by restating our unofficial motto, the African saying: “If you want to go far you go alone. If you want to go further, you go together”. The All-Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation contributes to the EU Green Deal as it promotes:

  • New models of cooperation (facing the operational differences that I mentioned a few moments ago)
  • The understanding and deepening of the scientific knowledge
  • The capital development and scientific exchange
  • The sharing of research infrastructures
  • The access to and management of data
  • The work with emerging methods of data science
  • Ocean-engaged citizens (including youth)
  • Academic-industry collaboration

Always having in mind, the benefit for the society, the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation will:

  • CONNECT the stakeholders:
    • in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forums and related events as for example the forthcoming All-Atlantic2021 Conference to be organised in June 2021 ins cope of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union;
    • in the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Multi-stakeholder Platform (currently 74 experts from 3 continents);
    • in the database of existing marine research and innovation initiatives at the Atlantic level –
  • EMPOWER the youth generations:
    • All-Atlantic Ocean Research Youth Ambassadors initiatives and the related Forum that was launched by the EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel in February this year. The second cohort of Youth Ambassadors will be announced in the next Forum;
  • ACT together:
    • All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Joint Actions will be launched in the next Forum contributing to the above-mentioned topics and therefore strongly contribute to the EU Green Deal Goals.

Finally, when questioned about how the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Cooperation is contributing to the UN Ocean Decade and specifically achieving the SDGs, Sofia informed that our Joint Actions (to be launched on the 3rd and 4th December 2020 in the next All-Atlantic Forum) tackle areas as:

  • Capital development
  • Data management and sharing
  • Infrastructure sharing
  • Knowledge transfer (crucial for the development of new technologies and innovation)
  • Ocean literacy

Above all, we are CONNECTING stakeholders from different countries, we are EMPOWERING them to work together, we are promoting NEW MODELS of collaboration, we are testing INNOVATIVE TOOLS, and we are creating SHARING MECHANISMS.