EuroGOOS response to the EC consultation on the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 5 work programme

EuroGOOS submitted its response to the European Commission consultation on the 2018-2020 work programme for the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 5 ‘Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials’. The Commission is planning to allocate €1 billion in this societal challenge for projects which should help achieving a resource-efficient and climate-change-resilient economy and society, as well as sustainable ecosystem management and supply of raw materials.

In its response to the consultation, EuroGOOS stressed the importance of an integrated approach across the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges. In the new programme the environmental protection should be further addressed supported by comprehensive and sustained global environmental observation and information systems.

Investing in ocean observation and forecasting allows one of the key parts of the Earth system to be observed and trends, predictions and projections to be produced for ocean and climate. The real-time operational measurements of today augment and enhance the long-term time series that are used in the climate context. Sustained observations of all Essential Ocean Variables remain a high priority for policy makers, scientists and society.

The substantial EU investment in ocean data and forecasting to date should be able to generate tailored products and services for many Blue Growth sectors. This will create additional employment and enhance the sustainable use of European seas. The private sector can build on this investment alongside research institutes to develop new products and services e.g. bespoke ocean forecasts for a variety of Blue Growth sectors. Such sectors include shipping, tourism and leisure as well as maritime safety (e.g. search and rescue, pollution/oil spill events). Furthermore, those efforts will aid in managing and protecting the marine environment and ecosystem. There is also scope for advanced sensor and platform development by European companies building upon previous EU research projects. The market for such sensors is global.

EuroGOOS highlighted that ecosystem services require high-quality ocean observations and forecasts. Making biogeochemical measurements in the coastal and open ocean is challenging. Furthermore, major observational gaps still exist in all European regional seas i.e North and South West shelf seas, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Sea, as well as the Arctic Sea where sea ice complicates remote and routine measurements. Finally, biofouling and longevity of instruments due to power consumption remain major impediments to measuring physical, chemical and biological parameters.

International collaboration is critical to fill those gaps. At European level several regional operational oceanographic systems have been established under EuroGOOS (EuroGOOS ROOS). The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) of IOC/UNESCO has called for more cooperation between adjacent GOOS regional alliances. There is considerable scope to enhance cooperation between Europe and GOOS systems in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Africa and the Arctic by enabling basic capacity to be built and technologies to be transferred to adjacent regions.

EuroGOOS highlighted that the recent evolution of the socio-economic and policy context represents emerging priorities for Societal Challenge 5. The ongoing migration crisis highlights the need for high-quality ocean information to support decision making related to the crisis. Much of the migration activity occurs in the maritime domain and requires many actors including national navies and civil protection authorities. Enhanced ocean observation and forecasting will assist such authorities in planning marine operations including ship routing and search and rescue/recovery operations.

Operational oceanography is an excellent example of the open approach described by Commissioner Moedas. The ocean observing community has a history of involving the third countries, public institutes and private sector in developing solutions in a collaborative way. The data and information collected in the community is becoming well integrated and interoperable. However, more needs to be done to develop specific tools to exploit this information and to engage more researchers and the public in open science. Enhanced telepresence in research activities and a higher involvement of citizens in oceanography and marine research is a priority.

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