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Science for Good Environmental Status

The Knowledge Hub constitutes a multi-national expert group that coordinates research and innovation to enable countries to assess and achieve Good Environmental Status.


The Knowledge Hub Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES) aims to contribute to a better understanding and achievement of Good Environmental Status in support of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD).






    Nov 2019 - Jan 2024

    Type of action

    Knowledge Hub

    Lead country


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    Participating countries


    The Knowledge Hub Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES) aims to contribute to a better understanding and achievement of Good Environmental Status in support of the Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD). The action will explore new approaches to determine the GES and provide efficient and effective observational strategies to Member States. 

    In 2022, the Knowledge Hub focuses on an expedition by four scientific teams onboard of the Research Vessel Belgica. The expedition aims at assessing the environmental status of the marine environment by integrating physical, chemical and biological information from an area of the North Sea.  


    Good Environmental Status is a comprehensive concept and its achievement a challenge that requires the long-term perspective and international coordination, which JPI Oceans Action facilitate with this Joint Action. The Knowledge Hub will mainly focus on the questions where science make the assessing process effective and efficient. Furthermore, after more than ten years of initiatives in support of the MSFD, the Knowledge Hub attempts to provide refreshed, more integrative perspectives. 


    The Joint Action is establishing three main lines of activities: i) Knowledge sharing towards the determination of GES, through a series of workshops; ii) Joint integrated monitoring approaches, that will take advantage of all state of the art techniques and existing infrastructures; and iii) Test beds and augmented observatories to establish a new infrastructure for near real time monitoring at sea.  

    Knowledge sharing

    A series of scientific expert workshops will be organized for sharing new knowledge and its practical understanding, conceptual approaches, identification of needs and clues, as a structured learning process to support “the official Task Groups”, the Marine Strategy Competence Centre and, in general, the entire community working and addressing the MSFD.  

    Joint Integrated monitoring approaches

    The proposed integrated monitoring approaches should include shared, trans-disciplinary monitoring platforms and expertise. These must be linked to integrated methodologies, development of technologies for monitoring relationships of biological (e.g., omics), biogeochemical, and physical processes, in order to support a common approach, synergies, and complementarity of efforts. The scope of all this is to achieve harmonized, wide-regional, innovative, cost-efficient, and effective assessment schemes of the GES, in particular, from the synergy of modelling, satellite, and in situ products.To meet evolving ocean observation needs, the role of joint, integrated observation approaches as a part of the wider European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) will be taken into account. 

    In this context, joint observational campaigns and shared infrasructures will be explored too. 

    Towards augmented observatories

    Augmented observatories should be conceived as integrated observation, monitoring and experimentation infrastructures. Key elements will be the requirement of being autonomous and automated, provide multidisciplinary measurements, and obtain high-resolution data collection and a real or near-real time link with the base station on the mainland. Furthermore, the observatory ideally allows a multi-platform, adaptive sampling strategy. 

    These new approaches and a harmonised view on specific and crucial indicators will provide an unprecedented opportunity for understanding the marine ecosystem. Setting up test beds that handle different aspects of the tasks and are conceived within the broader strategy of the ultimate augmented observatory is the way forward. The ultimate goal is to provide science-based novel approaches allowing a better uderstanding of the marine ecosystem and changes therein. 

    Why is this important?

    The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the current regulatory European Union framework that promotes actions for environmental assessments, defines environmental targets and sets programs of monitoring and measures, with the overall objective to maintain or restore a Good Environmental Status of European Seas and their resources.  

    The initial assessment and the Member States’ reports on the environmental status in the first implementation cycle until 2020 have shown the necessity to significantly improve the quality and coherence of the determination of Good Environmental Status by the Member States. Furthermore, the Commission recognized that criteria and methodological standards on Good Environmental Status of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment should be based on the best available science. The Knowledge Hub though its trans-national coordination of capacities and expertise will contribute to these requirements.  


    Joint Action endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade.