EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

EU Biodiversity Strategy

LifeWatch ERIC CEO Christos Arvanitidis has welcomed the release today, 20 May 2020, of the ‘European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030′, a blueprint that sets out targeted actions to preserve and restore European ecosystems in recognition that humanity’s relationship with nature is much in need of repair. 

Recognising that climate change, unprecedented decreases in wild species populations and the recent pandemic are the result of unsustainable human activity, the strategy will dedicate €20 billion to restoring degraded ecosystems, increasing protected forest and wetland areas, and creating green spaces in cities to achieve the climate change mitigation that is needed by 2030.

The strategy will support recovery in a post-pandemic world by restoring biodiversity for the benefit of people, climate and the planet, on the basis that nature not only provides the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, but accounts for over half of global Gross Domestic Product. It is central, in fact, to the European Green Deal for sustainable prosperity.

Specific targets include establishing protected areas for 30 percent of land and sea in Europe; restoring degraded ecosystems, increasing organic farming and biodiversity-rich landscape on agricultural soils, halting and reversing the decline of pollinators, reducing the risk and use of pesticides by 50 percent, restoring at least 25,000 km of EU rivers to a free-flowing state, and planting three billion trees by 2030.  

“It is essential to reverse the decline of the biodiversity that is essential for life,” said Dr Arvanitidis. “It is clear that biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and the climate crisis are organically connected and this is where LifeWatch ERIC can play a pivotal role in supplying evidence-based synthetic knowledge and nature-based solutions to societal challenges, not only for decision-makers in government, but also to ordinary citizens. To achieve this goal, LifeWatch ERIC offers facilities, open data, web services for reproducible analytics and a vast network of scientists all over Europe. We all have our part to play in turning this around”.

All these points are of a key importance also in economic terms, as biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation have clear economic and social costs cost. More than half of global GDP – about €40 trillion – depends on nature, and its restoration is part of the EU’s recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic. New opportunities for business and growth will arise in sectors like construction, agriculture and food and drink, which could produce, according to the European Commission’s estimation, up to 500,000 jobs. 

The new biodiversity strategy will make the EU a true leader in addressing the global biodiversity crisis, and in global negotiations at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, in October 2020. 


Towards a Comprehensive & Integrated Strategy of the European Marine Research Infrastructures for Ocean Observations

Strategy European Marine Research Infrastructures

LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director Alberto Basset and CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda have contributed to a recently-published paper that addresses today’s environmental challenges, entitled “Towards a Comprehensive & Integrated Strategy of the European Marine Research Infrastructures for Ocean Observations”, published in Frontiers in Marine Science.

Addressing environmental challenges is crucial for humanity and for life on Earth, and will depend on accurate information about fundamental processes in the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere, and their interactions. Marine Research Infrastructures (RIs) are key tools for understanding these complexities and interrelationships through multi-, inter-disciplinary approaches, because they constitute a dynamic long-term infrastructure framework, supported by European and national funds, to facilitate research, and provide highly accurate data and services.

Collaboration is essential to provide solutions to complex issues that cannot be solved by one partner alone. Europe has the resources and capacity to make comprehensive ocean observations for the benefit of society, and collaboration between RIs is emphasizing the development of multi-sensor technologies and the adoption of multi-parameter and interoperable methodologies for integrated and sustained marine observations. Click here to download the article.

LifeWatch Polls #LWpoll


Planned as part of the escalation of online communications, #LWpoll is a new initiative launched at the beginning of April 2020 by the infrastructure on Twitter to further connect with its scientific community.

The inspiration from the start was to understand the needs of scientists and to engage them in the development of the research infrastructure. Moreover, the initiative was thought of in an unprecedented time of our history, the COVID-19 pandemic, during which many scientists experienced limitations to their normal activity, and have had to adapt and find alternative solutions for their work. 

Now reaching its fifth edition, the LifeWatch Polls has been relaunching debates on hot topics and trying to understand the implications of the lockdown for ecologists and biologists in their field work, and if and how open access data repositories are used. Every poll is accompanied by a ‘Did You Know’ #DYK page with plenty of useful resources on the topics dealt with.

The #LWpoll on 6 May delved into the scale of biodiversity research, trying to catch a glimpse of which the most investigated domains are. In the spirit of two-way communication, quite apart from the many replies and Retweets, we’d welcome an email to suggest more topics. 

Previous polls:

European Research Infrastructures for a smarter future

When the ‘European Research Infrastructures for a smarter future’ conference, originally planned for 19–20 March in Zagreb by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, had to be cancelled because of public health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, a digital conference sprang up to take its place. Held online on Friday 15 May, 2020, the international event attracted representatives of Research Infrastructures and policy makers from all over Europe.

LifeWatch ERIC CEO Christos Arvanitidis featured as the first contributor to the morning panel on ‘Research Infrastructures and the European strategic agendas – Green Deal and Energy Transition’. Research Infrastructures, he argued, are organically linked to the European Green Deal Roadmap objectives, as they are tools for science offering the ideal environment to boost integration, community de-fragmentation, and innovation and growth. This, together with cross-domain integration, is of a key relevance on the road towards cleaner energy, more sustainable industry and mobility, reducing pollution and preserving biodiversity. Disruptive technologies also play a pivotal role in addressing the above goals. LifeWatch ERIC, for instance, offers blockchain technology for linking and managing open access data (LifeBlock) and develops the technical layer for the composability of its web services (LifeWatch ERIC Tesseract) towards reproducible analytics. Both technologies play an instrumental role in advancing science and in breaking current barriers between disciplines.

“Research Infrastructures will be critical in assisting the European Union to deliver on commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and deliver science based and nature based solutions to global challenges” he said. “The challenges we are facing are at the same time scientific, technical, societal, cultural, therefore further progress will depend on breaking through traditional barriers and effecting a change in our culture. Synergies at national and regional levels, with industry and business, will be better able to capitalise on this synthetic knowledge, as has been demonstrated in Andalusia, with the ERDF recources”.

The panel on The Green Deal and Energy Transition, was moderated by Inmaculada Figueroa, Vice Deputy Director General for the Internationalisation of Science and Innovation, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain and ESFRI Vice-Chair, and also featured interventions from Sverre Quale, Director of ECCSEL ERIC; Tonci Tadic, Head of the Croatian Fusion Unit at the Ruder Boškovič Institute; and Jana Kolar, Executive Director of CERIC-ERIC. Click here for details of the ESFRI White Paper ‘Making Science Happen’.

The conference continued touching other key topics for Research Infrastructures their contribution for Regional Development and in the fight against COVID-19, presenting ESFRI White Paper ‘Making Science Happen – a new ambition for Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area’, leading to the policy panel European Research Infrastructures for a smarter future.


Christos Arvanitidis, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Alberto Basset & Peter Van Tienderen – “Opportunities the European Green Deal and Energy Union provide for RIs”.

LifeWatch Species Information Backbone

LifeWatch Species Information Backbone

The LifeWatch Species Information Backbone (LW-SIBb) facilitates the standardisation of species data and the (virtual) integration of many distributed biodiversity data repositories and operating facilities. Built on expert-validated and literature-based information, the LW-SIBb is structured in different open data systems for taxonomy, biogeography, genetics and species traits. It is the driving force behind the species information services of the Belgian e-Lab. Several taxonomic data systems, species registers, nomenclatures and taxonomy-related projects contribute to the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone. They all help to make the Species Information Backbone more complete, either by an active collaboration to fill gaps, opening their data system for data exchange or by making their data accessible through web services. Recently, two major milestones were reached within the Backbone. 

Firstly, the data rescue and secured continuation of the Global Compositae Database into the Aphia platform has become a fact. Although Compositae (or Asteraceae) are not even remotely linked to the marine environment, the Aphia database – the platform behind the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) – is suitable for managing non-marine taxa as well. Rather than letting this enormous resource of Compositae information run the risk of disappearing, the WoRMS Data Management Team undertook to transfer it to the Aphia platform, starting work in 2017. That transfer has now been completed.

Secondly, the Interim Register of Marine and Nonmarine Genera (IRMNG) is a compilation of genus names that covers both living and extinct biota in a single system to support taxonomic and other queries dealing with e.g. homonyms, authorities, parent-child relationships, spelling variations and distinctions between marine and non-marine or fossil and recent taxa. IRMNG provides  the most complete and consistent coverage of all kingdoms of life presently available in such a form and serves to illustrate the scope of a project for a more detailed survey of “all the genera of the world” as well as providing a comparison with existing lists and preliminary content that can be of value for the compilation of new lists. 

Like the Compositae Database, IRMNG, which was originally started and managed by the CSIRO in Australia, has also experienced a major data rescue and become an integrated part of the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone, accessible through its very own portal, and through the LifeWatch e-services.

Opportunity for early stage researchers

The European Training Network RIBES “River flow regulation, fish BEhaviour and Status”, funded by the European Commission under the EU Horizon 2020 programme Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network (Grant no. 860800), announces 15 positions for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) giving the opportunity of being awarded a Doctoral Degree, with innovative complementary training activities and attractive travel, laboratory and research opportunities.

RIBES ESRs will be trained by international leaders in the interdisciplinary field of Ecohydraulics to find innovative solutions for freshwater fish protection and river continuity restoration in anthropogenically altered rivers within a European consortium of universities, research institutions and companies in Italy, Sweden, Germany, UK, Estonia and Belgium in an excellent scientific environment with state-of-the-art technologies.

The 15 ESRs will have access to a number of laboratory and field facilities, modelling techniques,  experimental practices and instrumental technologies, to expand current understanding of fish bio-mechanical, behavioural and physiological processes, and to promote development of novel tools and management solutions in the area of freshwater fish protection, ameliorating passage of migratory fish species in regulated rivers.

Deadline: 31 May 2020
Euraxess call:
For further info contact Prof. Claudio Comoglio at:

Data Protection Legislation Webinar

What are the main challenges awaiting Data Protection Legislation for health research? How is COVID-19 pandemic affecting this?

These are the themes at the heart of the International webinar hosted, today 5 May 2020, by Intelligence in Science (ISC), on health research in the era of General Data Protection Regulation, discussing how regulations might affect the coordination of global responses and how data transfers and processing can be achieved with safety and security.

Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Executive Board member of ERIC FORUM, was invited to join the panel on GDPR/Blockchain, Federated Machine Learning and AI. This is in fact a central niche for the distributed e-Infrastructure which, under the lead of its CTO and thanks to the effort of all ICT staff, developed the LifeBlock platform, establishing LifeWatch ERIC as the first Environmental ESFRI using Blockchain technologies for engaging, tracking and securing biodiversity and ecosystem research resources & services provision.

The webinar featured contributions from National Institutes of Health, government departments and eminent universities, while topics ranged from GDPR and Data Transfers, their implication for Horizon Europe funding opportunities, and downstream data sharing for COVID-19 research. The webinar concluded with a World View, working towards recommendations for global alignment on data protection regulation for improved health outcomes in advance of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020.