EU-AFRICA e-Biodiversity & Ecosystem Sustainable Management in support of GeoScience

EU-Africa Geoscience Infrastructure

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda participated as speaker and in the discussions at a workshop co-organised on 22 January 2021 by The Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) and the Council for Geoscience of South Africa to present a vision for a shared EU-Africa Geoscience Infrastructure. 

The meeting was organised as part of the AERAP EU-Africa science collaboration platform, aimed at providing input for the forthcoming EU-Africa summit during the Portuguese Counsel Presidency. Although the summit date has yet to be finalised, the EU Strategy for Africa and the launch of Horizon Europe and the Neighbourhood, International Cooperation and Development Instrument (NDICI) can benefit from contributions from the EU and African geosciences communities. 

In line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 17, “partnerships for the goals”, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for socio-economic transformation and the European Commission’s Africa Strategy call for partnerships to achieve common goals. The foundation for a strong and enduring partnership needs to be rooted in our shared Earth, and informed by the knowledge of what science and technology can deliver. Justly achieving the green transition and the digital transformation while delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals requires a full understanding of our planet home. 

In fact, Earth sciences provide solutions for many aspects underpinning the European Green Deal and the circular economy, including water security, agricultural sustainability, energy security, raw materials availability, especially as regards the critical minerals necessary for decarbonisation, the blue economy, and community safety from geohazards including climate change. The revolution in earth sciences brought about by the Big Data generated through AU-EU research partnerships will require additional distributed ICT e-Infrastructures in Africa and Europe, and the development of data analysis and management skills, especially for younger generations and particularly women. 

An AU-EU partnership in earth sciences is being leveraged by expanding the existing cooperation between the Organization of African Geological Surveys (OAGS) and the European Geological Surveys (EGS), such as PanAfGeo which has been ongoing since 2016. At Friday’s meeting, Dr González-Aranda presented LifeWatch ERIC as a distributed ICT e-Infrastructure which is already providing support to address the primary challenges outlined in the European Commission’s comprehensive strategy with Africa, based on the essential relationship between Geodiversity and e-Biodiversity.