Biodiversity loss is considered the second biggest challenge after Global Climate Change. This is why as many as sixteen projects funded by the European Commission this year are focused on the issue of marine biodiversity in the European Seas.
Public concern about the Sixth Great Extinction is widespread, yet we need to understand the reality of the situation on this issue at the European scale. At the same time, the European Union and its Member States (MSs) have a fundamental need to understand how biodiversity and ecosystem functioning must be maintained to ensure that they deliver ecosystem services, goods and benefits, which in turn must be sustainably used by society. At the same time, MSs need to value these natural and social capital aspects of ecosystems.
In such efforts, BC3 aims to advance knowledge in innovative ocean science solutions across the three pillars of sustainability – social, environmental and economic – to ensure more sustainable use of our marine natural resources.
In this regard, efforts will aim to provide an answer to the following questions: How the goods and services provided by the marine ecosystem are linked with biodiversity? What are the new types of use of the seas? How to secure sustainable use of the ocean and protect its life?
The MARBEFES project
As of 1st of September 2022, BC3´s Artificial Intelligence for Environmental Sustainability (ARIES) Team started working on the MARBEFES Horizons project. MARBEFES, which stands for MARine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning leading to Ecosystem Services, is a 4-year Horizon-RIA project that was awarded by the EU Commission under the HORIZON-CL6-2021-BIODIV-01- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Call and will last until September 2026.
On the 4th of October, 2022 took place the kick-off event of the MARBEFES project in Sopot, Poland, where BC3 will be an important partner for the modelling task force through the ARIES team. The project is coordinated by the Polish Institute of Oceanology (IO PAN) and aims to evaluate and characterise the links between marine biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services and the resulting societal goods and benefits in coastal communities.
The ARIES team will provide spatial-temporal analysis of changes in coastal and marine natural capital and ecosystem services, with the scope of spreading its artificial intelligence (AI) paradigm for mapping, evaluating, and visualising European marine natural capital in a global context.
The MARBEFES project, which involves 23 European research entities and over 100 researchers from multiple science disciplines – marine biologists, chemists, physicists, sociologists and economists –, will exchange information with other EU projects in order to avoid overlap and support each other in field research, in order to contribute towards an equitable and sustainable planet – UN Ocean Decade’s main challenge.
BC3 at the EU Ocean Mission’s map
As part of the Horizon Europe research and innovation (R&I) programme, EU Missions are a new way to bring concrete solutions to some of our greatest challenges. They have ambitious goals and are expected to deliver tangible results by 2030 by putting research and innovation into a new role, combined with new forms of governance and collaboration, as well as by engaging citizens.
BC3 has joined the Mission Charter to one of the five existing EU Missions – Restore our Ocean and Waters Charter. By adhering to this Mission Charter, BC3 reinforces its commitment to building a sustainable blue economy and puts its work and activities on the global map.
A roadmap on marine spatial planning
Besides the previous actions, BC3 has hired Marta Pascual, Spanish National Hub at the WestMED Blue Economy Initiative, the Atlantic Action Plan Assistance Mechanism and an ARIES team member. She is a marine scientist with a broad professional experience in different lines of marine and coastal research applied to marine spatial planning (MSP); ecosystem services mapping, modelling, and valuation; integrated coastal zone management; biological valuation and blue economy.
By adhering to all these EU Oceans and Waters efforts, BC3 would like to send a clear signal on the importance of protecting our aquatic ecosystems and taking concrete measures for their restoration and protection. BC3 also intends to show its commitment to carry out concrete actions that contribute to these objectives at all levels -European, transnational, national or regional/local-, which can be promoted by both public and private funds and increase its visibility in R&I on these ecosystems in order to participate in forums and events, including calls for projects.
BC3 will also have an important role in providing access to the knowledge, services and tools developed through the European Digital Twin Ocean, the Mission Implementation Platform, and other coordination actions. It will also give access to tools to train citizens so that they get involved in actions for the restoration of aquatic and marine ecosystems.