The marine environment consists of complex systems. These involve interconnected aspects with delicate trade-offs between exploitation by human activities and conservation of natural resources.
Sustainable socio-economic and environmental interference with these systems requires a fundamental scientific knowledge base. The EU and Member States are tackling many environmental challenges with different approaches, through legislation and interventions in many sectors. The concept of marine Good Environmental Status (GES) is at the core of most of the policy challenges.
In this context, the MSFD EU directive has provided a fundamental milestone towards the cooperation and integration of national efforts. Yet there are key scientific challenges that remain to be addressed, notably towards the understanding of the processes underlying the dynamics of the marine ecosystem impacted by human activities. Member States are struggling to make efficient and effective their huge investments in data collection and reporting, and in adopting appropriate interventions. Moreover, they are now facing the revision of the MSFD with new inputs that need to be incorporated into the process.
JPI Oceans (Joint Programme Initiative on Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans) is a strategic platform that coordinates and integrates research efforts on marine and maritime challenges. It has been officially adopted in 2011 by the Council of the European Union and involves relevant ministries and research funders from European Member States, Associated Countries, and international partners in different typologies of actions (https://jpi-oceans.eu/).
In November 2019, JPI Oceans has launched a Joint Action called “Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES)”, to better understand marine ecosystems, how multiple activities impact the environment and how the requests of the MSFD can be fulfilled (see S4GES and Sprovieri et al., 2021).
Eleven national institutions from the participating countries have agreed to adopt an innovative approach for the assessment of GES. A first observational campaign on board of the RV Belgica has been carried out in July 2023 and data analysis is now providing preliminary results.
This is an opportune time to debate the new results from different initiatives within the scientific community, to promote a salient knowledge-based support to policy, and to give new substance to interpretation of GES.
The workshop will be held in Malta on the 21st and 22nd June 2023, and will be hosted by MCST, the public body mandated to advising the Maltese government on science and technology policy. MCST, through its Internationalisation Unit, is participating in several international collaboration initiatives, including JPI Oceans, and contributes to the activities of the S4GES Joint Action to strengthen international R&I collaboration amongst local and foreign researchers.
During the first day, scientists are invited to address the state of the art of the scientific support to the definition and assessment of GES, to present and debate the lessons learnt by the JPI Oceans Joint Action S4GES, to debate the different approaches and consequences of the scientific results on the implementation of the MSFD.
During the second day, scientists, policymakers, and practitioners are invited to address the state of the art of the implementation of MSFD, to reflect on the effectiveness of the scientific support to policy in marine challenges, to affirm the strategic role of the EU in addressing the blue sustainability as a global lighthouse, to identify what future actions can be implemented to fulfil the MSFD in an efficient and effective way.
Scientists from different initiatives of JPI Oceans and beyond, representatives from relevant authorities, regional conventions, the EU Commission and Parliament will be invited to join the workshop.
The agenda can be downloaded here.