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Research and innovation
News article11 June 2020BrusselsDirectorate-General for Research and Innovation1 min read

Project SOPHIE, it’s a wrap

After two and a half years of tireless activity, the Horizon 2020 project SOPHIE (Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe) has ended. SOPHIE brought marine and environmental scientists together with medical and social scientists, public health and other experts to explore the complex links between ocean and human health (OHH).

SOPHIE dived into a diverse range of topics, from blue tourism to citizen science, from marine data to policy review, and much more.

The key objectives of SOPHIE were to deliver a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) on ocean and human health for Europe, to create a network of stakeholders and to identify innovative solutions to sustainably reduce risks and promote benefits.

Leveraging on a consortium of eight partners from Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom, their work included mapping evidence, designing future scenarios, building awareness and skills.

The SOPHIE team have also designed the world’s first public survey to explore people’s understandings of the links between ocean and human health, and collected standardised, representative data across 14 EU countries.

This SRA focuses on three main action areas: Sustainable seafood and healthy people; Blue spaces, tourism and well-being; and also outlines policy and research needs, public and stakeholder attitudes, and capacity and training requirements in relation to these three areas, as well as OHH more generally.

In addition to providing resources to explore the three target areas of the SRA, the following main priorities and overarching recommendations emerge

  • Systematic reviews and longitudinal studies should be conducted to better understand the state-of-play in OHH research, and to identify gaps in understanding linkages;
  • The benefits of marine protected areas (MPAs) to human as well as ocean health should be demonstrated;
  • Medical, public health, marine, environmental science communities need to work together;
  • Inter- and transdisciplinary training and education programmes should be developed at different academic levels to support the development of OHH research;
  • Co-creation and engagement with communities, business, NGOs and governments is essential.



Publication date
11 June 2020
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation