How do research and innovation contribute to the protection and sustainable use of marine and freshwater ecosystems? A new report published by the European Commission takes stock of the progress made in addressing this issue, which is the focus of the EU Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030.
The document describes the results achieved by a portfolio of more than 800 projects, completed or ongoing, funded by 16 EU programmes, most by Horizon Europe and Horizon 2020.
The cases examined were selected on the basis of their contribution to restoring waters and biodiversity, reducing pollution, and making the blue economy carbon-neutral and circular.
The report provides an overview of tangible results delivered, including good practices and innovative solutions, together with recommendations for the implementation of the Mission. Gaps and synergies that could require further support at the EU level are also highlighted.
The analysis was carried out by 12 independent experts who assessed the extent to which the projects examined contributed to the objectives of the Mission and the Green Deal targets in the various thematic areas of intervention, geographical areas and making use of levers of change.
The experts pointed out that, for example, a large number of projects focuses on marine and coastal habitats while freshwater ecosystems are significantly underrepresented. The solutions proposed include better alignment between different funding programmes or cross-programme funding, as well as defining additional lighthouse areas – sites to pilot, demonstrate, develop and deploy the Mission activities – to be situated in freshwater ecosystems.
Also, the report underlines that societal groups outside those targeted by projects are yet insufficiently involved and suggests improving communication by using a language targeted to the general public and proper communication channels.
Together with the Report, a Dashboard is made available online, which allows users to filter information according to specific interests.