Keeping up with LifeWatch Belgium

Keeping up with LifeWatch Belgium: a hand displaying Wormsina specimens, a still from a MarineRegions map, and the cover of the UN's World Oceans Assessment.

LifeWatch Belgium has been busy over the last few months, so enjoy a round-up of some of their best stories. You can read more news from LifeWatch Belgium, including the full versions of these featured articles, on their websiteSource images: Alice Schumacher (Natural History Museum Vienna), &


WoRMS honoured with new genus

The World Register of Marine Species, better known as WoRMS, is hosted by VLIZ, which is a member of LifeWatch Belgium. For the first time, in recognition of the platform’s contribution to taxonomy research, a genus has been named after the Register: Wormsina. Harzhauser & Landau established the genus for a Miocene Paratethyan Mitridae, noting: “We all are frequently using and consulting WoRMS and this is [our] contribution to make this important platform even more visible.”
The full paper is available on ZooTaxa & ZooBank. Be sure to check out the Wormsina monograph on page 49! You can view the genus on WoRMS and MolluscaBase. Click here for the original article.


MarineRegions’ Exclusive Economic Zones featured on

An important dataset from MarineRegions, (funded partly by LifeWatch Belgium) has now been featured as a map on, helping to improve the experience of millions of users. Since 31 March 2021, vessel locations can be plotted against the global Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), a dataset provided by MarineRegions. EEZ was originally published in 2006 and shows the ocean and seas belonging to coastal states. The EEZ dataset and its derived products are increasingly being adopted by a wide range of users, from industry over researchers to journalists.
Read the full article here.    


VLIZ research data infrastructures played key role in UN Ocean report

On 21 April 2021, the United Nations launched the Second World Ocean Assessment (WOA II) on the state of the ocean, covering environmental, economic and social aspects. Staff from the data centre of VLIZ, a member of LifeWatch Belgium, were among the 300 selected from a pool of 780 experts around the world who contributed to this landmark document. The first cycle (WOA I) focused on establishing baselines, whereas WOA II, which ran from 2016 until 2020, extended the scope to evaluating trends and identifying gaps.
The contributions of VLIZ to WOA II were made possible through the support received from the Research Foundation – Flanders as part of the Belgian contribution to LifeWatch. Click here to learn more about the details of these contributions.

EOSC Future: Call for Evaluators

EOSC Future

LifeWatch ERIC is proud to be a partner in the EOSC Future project, which, over the next two and a half years, will develop an environment with professional data services, open research products and infrastructure. It looks to create a so-called ‘system of systems’ that will support European researchers in managing the entire data lifecycle: from sharing, managing and exploiting their own data to discovering, re-using and recombining the datasets of others. The project will engage, train and support (potential) EOSC users and will encourage providers to sign up by offering easy onboarding, ticket management and analytics.

Since its official kick-off meeting on 10 June, the project has launched a call for external evaluators, seeking experts to evaluate a series of diverse grants to be awarded by the Research Data Alliance (RDA). Though the call will remain open for submissions until June 2023,  experts will be called on to evaluate grant applications as soon as October 2021.

To enable the co-creation of EOSC, via early adoption, technical and domain solution development and interoperability, RDA will be running a rich set of regular open calls. The RDA Open Calls mechanism is backed by a €1 000 000 grant earmarked for engaging with multiple stakeholders, including targeted scientific communities, technical experts and early career researchers. The calls will be complemented by a broad range of support activities, such as events, use cases, info packages, best practices, a Scientific Ambassador Network and dedicated RDA groups. These activities will enable a continual innovation workflow and engagement with science projects to support the implementation of an EOSC environment.  

In keeping with its principles of transparent and community-driven action, RDA is looking for external expert evaluators to support the decision-making process for awarding the RDA Open Calls grants. These evaluators will operate remotely via the EOSC Future Grants Platform and will be responsible for evaluating applications for RDA Open Calls, both for general and discipline- or domain-specific grants. While the call for external expert evaluators is open for the entire duration of the EOSC Future project, evaluators will be needed as soon as October 2021. Evaluators will be routinely selected from the pool of applicants based on their availability and the expertise required. Aside from a few exceptional cases, drafting an individual evaluation report will be compensated with a €150 fee (equivalent to 0.3 working days). 

Experts can submit their applications via the dedicated EOSC Future Grants Platform, which will manage the grants application process for all calls under EOSC Future‘s €1.6 million grant fund. This includes the €1 000 000 in grants under the RDA Open Calls as well as another €600 000 awarded through various DIH Calls.

The AERAP Science Summit

LifeWatch ERIC at AERAP

What a week! LifeWatch ERIC staff members participated in a total of 14 sessions across the Africa-Europe Science and Innovation Summit, hosted virtually by AERAP Science on 14-18 June 2021. 37 hours of presentations and discussions, all focused on improving knowledge transfer on science and innovation between Africa and Europe. This Summit drew on a range of processes, including AGENDA 2063, Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse; the AU Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024); and the European Commission Communication Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa which foresees future cooperation built on five partnerships: green transition, digital transformation, growth and jobs, peace and governance and migration and mobility. 

LifeWatch ERIC took part in sessions covering a range of topics, from Blockchain, to agri-food systems, to the Global Biodiversity Framework, featuring participation from CEO Christos Arvanitidis, CTO and ICT-Core Director Juan Miguel González-Aranda, CFO Lucas de Moncuit and Service Centre Director Alberto Basset, along with staff members from the ICT Core and the Service Centre: Elisa Morón-López, Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés, José Manuel Ávila, Javier López-Torres and Cosimo Vallo.

LifeWatch ERIC staff participated in 14 panels overall, alongside esteemed representatives from Europe and Africa, such as Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of GBIF; Intisar Soghayroun, Minister of High Education and Scientific Research of Sudan; Maria Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation in Research & Innovation at the European Comission; Clint García Alimandri of the Junta de Andalucia; Maxwell Otim, Director at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Uganda; and many more. The Summit saw a large amount of support from LifeWatch ERIC, which also convened the discussion “Cooperation on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services” alongside the South African Department of Science and Innovation. LifeWatch ERIC also participated in the last AERAP conference in September 2020.

You can view LifeWatch ERIC’s presentations below:

Elisa Morón-López, Lucas de Moncuit – Overview of European Science Programmes and Policies

Juan Miguel González-Aranda – Opening Plenary

Juan Miguel González-Aranda – Africa-Europe Geoscience Cooperation to Sustain our Planet

José Manuel Ávila – Developing a Skills Agenda that Works for Future Generations in Africa. Download PDF

Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés – Our Digital Future for our Citizens

Juan Miguel González-Aranda – Science Capacity Building in Africa

Christos Arvanitidis, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Alberto Basset – Cooperation on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services

José Manuel Ávila – Africa-Europe Research Cooperation for the Advancement of Agri-Food Systems. Download PDF

Christos Arvanitidis: Oceans of Cooperation

Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés, Juan Miguel González-Aranda – Building ICT Capacity

Juan Miguel González-Aranda – Science at the United Nations’ 76th  General Assembly, September 2021: How Science Advances the SDGs

Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés – Blockchain in Africa

Javier López-Torres, Cosimo Vallo: Youth Challenge: Inspiring the Next Generation with the Schools Satellite Project. Download PDF

Christos Arvanitidis, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Alberto Basset – Africa-Europe Cooperation on the Global Biodiversity Framework

Christos Arvanitidis, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, José Manuel Ávila (Download PDF) – Africa-Europe Partnering Together for Future Biodiversity Challenges: Consortia Building

The 2021 ENVRI Community International School

The official banner for the ENVRI Community International School - Services for FAIRness

The 2021 edition of the ENVRI Community International School has been launched!

Organised by ENVRI-FAIR and LifeWatch ERIC, the ENVRI Community International School is at its fourth edition, having established itself as an unmissable opportunity to learn about FAIRness in the framework of Research Infrastructures. Having gone into depth on data FAIRness and data management during previous editions, this year the School will focus on Services for FAIRness, from their design to their development and publication.

Further information on the programme and teachers will soon be available.

SAVE THE DATE | The school will take place online from 27 September – 8 October 2021.

Do you want to know more about the School? Check out the previous editions at the following links:

The 2020 Winter School on DATA FAIRness

The 2019 Summer School on DATA FAIRness

LifeWatch ERIC at the RI-VIS Latin America-Europe Symposium

RI-VIS Latin America Symposium

LifeWatch ERIC was delighted to take part in the RI-VIS Latin America-Europe Symposium on Research Infrastructures, held online 15-17 June 2021. The European Union and Latin America enjoy privileged relations and are natural partners, linked by strong historical, cultural and economic ties. The EU-LAC ResInfra project (Towards a new EU-LAC partnership in Research Infrastructures, funded under Horizon 2020), of which LifeWatch ERIC is a partner, has for ten years been building biregional collaboration on climate change, digital innovation, research and education. Cooperation between the 27 EU and 33 LAC (Latin American and Caribbean) countries, which together comprise over one billion people, is an important part of addressing major global issues like infectious disease, food security, and natural disasters.

The RI-VIS Latin America-Europe Symposium on Research Infrastructures brought together nearly 200 speakers to consolidate collaboration on enabling scientists to use specific facilities, resources, and expertise to accelerate scientific achievements, overcome boundaries, train highly skilled specialists, and promote sustainable research. The goal was to deliver a sustainability plan and roadmap which included human capital development and capacity building within its science, technology and innovation framework.

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer and ICT-Core Director, Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda, delivered an enthusiastic presentation on the “LifEuLAC Pilot Case Study” on Tuesday 15 June, as part of the session Case studies of multinational and biregional Latin American-European partnerships. He outlined LifeWatch ERIC’s role in economic evaluations of ecosystems, describing how through strategic, tactical and operational plans it will continue to expand environmental studies that contribute to economic growth and equity.

The development of innovative ICT tools – Blockchain, which illustrates the socioeconomic value of ecosystem services, and Tesseract, which is designed to support policymaker decision-making – places LifeWatch ERIC in a strong position to measure the impact of global climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem research. Ongoing collaboration with other Research Infrastructures will produce greater data evidence and understanding that will greatly benefit both regions of the partnership.

For more information, click here to read the White Paper published ahead of the Symposium, entitled “Recommendations towards cooperation between Latin American and European research infrastructures”.

ENVRI Community – Studying the environment today to tackle the challenges of tomorrow

A screenshot from the ENVRI Community video, showing planet Earth in Space

LifeWatch ERIC is proud to be a member of ENVRI: a community of environmental research infrastructures working together to observe the Earth as one system. We strive to provide open and FAIR environmental data, tools and other services for anyone to use for free.

Planet Earth is an interconnected system. Biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere – all these parts of the Earth interact together.

Planet Earth is an interconnected system. Biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere – all these parts of the Earth interact together.

Researchers grab chance to experiment with LifeWatch ERIC tools at Hands-on Session

Screenshot of Hands-on Session featuring smiling participants

On Friday 4 June 2021, as a follow-up to the successful e-Science for NIS Research Workshop on 20-21 May, LifeWatch ERIC gave researchers the opportunity to try out LifeWatch ERIC-developed software at a Hands-on Session. It marked the debut of key tools built by LifeWatch ERIC as part of its Internal Joint Initiative (IJI) in its quest to facilitate open access data in the domains of biodiversity and ecosystem research.

All training resources, including presentations, demos and manuals are available through the LifeWatch ERIC Training Platform. (Please note, those who missed out on the Session can find the relevant materials simply by following the link to the training programme and creating an account).

After an introduction from CTO and ICT-Core Director Juan Miguel González-Aranda, together with Service Director Alberto Basset, the floor was given to technical staff, Lucia Vaira, Xeni Kechagioglou, Antoni Huguet Vives, Nikos Miandakis and Antonio José Saénz Albanés, to explain and demonstrate the Metadata Catalogue and the Tesseract VRE, which was illustrated using the Crustaceans Workflow (presented at the Workshop on 20 May). After the presentations and demonstrations, participants were given the opportunity to try the services and workflows for themselves, interacting with the trainers who provided guidance and feedback.

The session was brought to a close with input from Juan Miguel González-Aranda, who reiterated the importance of continued feedback and exchange with the scientific community in order for LifeWatch ERIC to refine and improve its services. CEO Christos Arvanitidis then thanked everyone who took part, noting that the Session was just the beginning of the results LifeWatch ERIC has to showcase after its first five years of hard work alongside dedicated collaborators. He also highlighted that LifeWatch ERIC is leading an important Work Package as part of the EOSC Future project, and how the efforts of everyone involved will ensure that LifeWatch ERIC services can be deployed on the EOSC platform, benefiting a wider audience than ever before.