The social highlight of the 30th meeting was clearly the performance of Eivind Lorentzen from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Irish folk songs on an onboard luggage-sized balalaika during the meeting dinner. To round it, the performance of Hanna Lee Behrens from Research Council Norway and Gilles Lericolais, from the Prime Minister’s Secrétariat Général de la Mer of France joined in with an improvised dance that seems to have adopted folkloristic Irish choreographies. Bravo, da capo …!
In comparison, crowning the meeting’s programming highlight turns out to be much harder. The candidates of exciting Board decisions, discussions and ideas were plentiful.
Two new and indeed innovative topics were agreed to be systematically explored for their prospect to become a Joint Action: (1) The potential of offshore freshened groundwater for alleviating water scarcity and (2) the potential of marinas for ocean observation and education. The Scoping Action on groundwater will be led by Malta and Italy, the one on marinas by Greece and Italy. Both topics had been submitted to JPI Oceans in response to a solicitation of ideas in 2022, and the Board now approved to launch a new solicitation of ideas in mid-November.
The Board further confirmed the launch of JPI Oceans’ third call on Ecological Aspects of Deep-sea Mining in December 2023, led by Germany and Belgium (see pre-announcement). Based on ample interest from JPI Oceans member countries, it was further decided that the new Joint Action on Changing Marine Lightscapes led by Germany and Norway shall launch a joint call in the spring of 2024.
For two Joint Actions that operate in the form of Knowledge Hubs, the Terms of Reference were approved, describing their respective objectives and operation. The recently approved new Joint Action on Blue Carbon, led by Ireland and France, will now appoint the experts to map vegetated coastal ecosystems in Europe. Our Ocean Carbon Capacities Joint Action led by Norway is entering a second phase in the form of a Knowledge Hub to look into strengthening aspects of the ocean carbon information value chain related to reference materials, research vessel capacities, and a review cycle.
For the BlueBio ERANET Cofund coordinated by Norway, the Board greenlighted that JPI Oceans will accept to carry out communication and dissemination responsibilities for the 30 blue bioeconomy projects that will be ongoing beyond the end of the Cofund in May 2024. This will add to the already ongoing fostering of the 17 projects that extended beyond the conclusion of the MarTERA ERANET Cofund.
The Board highlighted that strategic participation of the JPI Oceans AISBL in selected Horizon projects is complementary and synergistic to our own strategy and adds value for JPI Oceans member countries. The Board therefore welcomed participation in the upcoming Horizon Europe project to ‘Advance Marine Research Infrastructures Together (AMRIT)’. This project will add to JPI Oceans’ involvement in the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership, the Pre4Blue Coordination and Support Action to the Ocean Mission, the marine metrology project MINKE, and the EU4Ocean Coalition for Ocean Literacy.
The Board further supported to pledge the recently adopted new Joint Actions on Blue Carbon and on Lightscapes as further contributions to the Ocean Mission charter and to the UN Ocean Decade, respectively, also to propose three satellite events on the topics of sea level rise, blue carbon, and underwater noise at next year's UN Ocean Decade conference in Barcelona. And finally, the Board appointed a Programme Committee to develop a high-level foresight event to be held in Brussels in June 2024. It will be an important contribution to the development of our pan-European JPI Oceans strategy for the second half of the current decade.
Keep an eye for news on whichever you identified as your highlight items and on the opportunities that will come with them. Meanwhile, following up on those decisions will keep JPI Oceans members and secretariat on their toes until and beyond the next Management Board meeting, planned for 16-17 April 2024 in Brussels in hybrid format.