Mapping bodies of water will benefit our planet, and the EU has taken up the challenge

by Ishai Shamir

Who doesn’t like the sea? Personally, it is difficult for me to imagine anybody who does not have any connection to or feelings for the oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers that surround us. For some of us, this link will be just the feeling of vacation, recreation, or sports, for others – an occupation. Fishermen, freight carriers, sailors, navy people, cooks, and many other respectable professions, are highly reliant on the seas.

The health, accessibility, knowledge, and resources of the bodies of water that we all love are important for human prosperity. According to the EU’s Mission Area: “Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters”, they are the lungs of our planet, producing half of the oxygen we breathe. These bodies of water are a source of healthy food, responsible for 16% of the animal protein we eat. They are the planet’s largest carbon sink and have absorbed 26% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are home to the richest biodiversity on our planet. They are the source of all life on Earth and our planet’s life-support system. They supply fresh water and renewable energy and provide benefits associated with our well-being, cultural values, tourism, trade, and transport.

As such, a bulk investment is expected to be allocated in this area in the scope of Horizon Europe, The EU’s next framework programme for research and innovation. With grant opportunities in:

  • Prevention, reduction, mitigation, and removal of marine pollution, including plastics
  • Transition to a circular and blue economy
  • Mitigation of pollution and climate change in the ocean
  • Sustainable use and management of ocean resources
  • Development of new materials, including biodegradable plastic substitutes, new feed and food
  • Urban, coastal, and maritime spatial planning
  • Ocean governance
  • Ocean economics applied to maritime activities

As a kick-starter for these activities, the EU is planning a call under the European Green Deal umbrella with the aim of creating a digital twin for the ocean, a live map, and a knowledge base of the ocean, that will be used in green ocean initiatives, education and screening of pollutants.

This is indeed an interesting time to get into the world of EU grants, with the European Commission targeting the most important and pressing issues, but also topic areas that everyone can relate to, such as the oceans, the seas, coasts, and inland waters.

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