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The ocean and waters featured prominently at the 2020 virtual edition of the European Research & Innovation Days (22-24 September).
Chair Pascal Lamy officially presented to the European Commission the Mission Board’s proposal Mission Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters.
Two more sessions then dove into the Mission with the involvement of more than 1,500 participants and a focus on citizen and stakeholder contribution not only to the shaping of the Mission, but also to its implementation.
The sessions highlighted the emotional gap between people and the ocean and waters – our life-support system. Filling the gap in knowledge and emotional connection will be a key part of the Mission as it is crucial to mobilise political leadership and to realise its objectives. There is now a huge potential not only for ideas but for also action for all European citizens, both those living on the shore and inland.
Both sessions emphasised that investment in education and awareness raising must start from the earliest age and cover all segments of society. It was suggested that an EU wide Ocean and Waters literacy programme for primary schools to give future generations the opportunity and the tools to embark on the blue endeavour could be a first step in the implementation of the Mission. Participatory citizen science campaigns and mobilisation of youth across Europe and beyond can also contribute to spreading knowledge and strengthening the connection between European citizens and our ocean and waters. The full potential of science-based storytelling, art and culture will need exploring to create bridges and inspire EU citizens’ wonder and care about our blue planet.
During the sessions, participants were asked how citizens can take action to change the future of our ocean and waters. Many interesting suggestions emerged, such as:
- to be responsible consumers and reduce waste, in particular single use plastic;
- to introduce more education and ocean literacy activities and campaigns, as well as citizen involvement in science;
- to involve children and organise clean-up activities;
- to reduce the impact of tourism on waters; and
- to become active members of communities that engage in local processes and decision-making.
The sessions also underlined the importance of proper and effective governance for our ocean and waters; a governance that would overcome the existing fragmentation of decision-making processes, actors, investments and activities. One of the solutions suggested is the creation of a new European Hydrosphere Agency.
Open session – Mission Area Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters