A Focus on Gender-Responsive Policy at the Women for the Mediterranean Conference

Women for the Mediterranean

LifeWatch ERIC International Gender Officer, Africa Zanella, took part this week in the Women for the Mediterranean Conference in Madrid, where Union for the Mediterranean member states committed on Wednesday to strengthening the role of women in society in response to regional crises. Ms Zanella, who is also CEO of CGSE, as well as Observer and Gender Focal Point for the CIF, moderated the panel “Gender Equality and Climate Change: women as agents for change and stakeholders instead of vulnerable groups”, followed by participation in the panel “Gender-responsive finance at scale for climate and environment action”.

A recurring theme in her speeches throughout the day was calling for attention to language, and she opened by rejecting the ubiquitous term “climate change”, calling for the phenomenon to be referred to as the “climate crisis”. Also in common with her following presentations, she called for more gender analysis into research and policy, explaining her role within LifeWatch ERIC to implement a Gender Equity Plan, which is now a requirement for participation in EU research funding programmes, and use of tools such as IGAR to increase equality and wellbeing in the research infrastructure, which provides science research facilities and services to scientists investigating biodiversity and ecosystem functions towards addressing key societal challenges linked to climate change.

For the first panel, she introduced panellists: Saira Ahmed, Programme Management Officer at UNDRR, Blanca Moreno-Dodson, Director of the CMIUNOPS, Yasmine Seghirate, Policy and Communication Officer at CIHEAM, and Maggie Refaat, Regional Gender Specialist at FAO. Some of the key points the experts spoke about were the desegregation of data for effective gender analysis of policy, due to the large diversity within genders, and about increased information exchange between universities and research infrastructures in order to develop equality plans and support women who want to become scientists.

Next, Africa Zanella invited the panellists to choose the point of action from the Gender Declaration which they believe would make the best change for women. Points mentioned included training and research, due to the important of having data which reveals how climate change is affecting women; monitoring changes to legislation, which largely needs to be reviewed in order to incorporate gender component; the importance of having reliable data on climate financing, to encourage the private sector to collaborate with public sector; gender transformative approaches, such as increased reporting on women’s access to land ownership and access to knowledge; and increased investment in a gender-sensitiiveresponse to disasters, which would involve more resources made directly available to grassroots women’s organisations.

When as a panellist the Gender Officer was asked how the Union for the Mediterranean roadmap could be improved, she stated the stark fact that only 0.04% of climate funding is dedicated into gender, citing the problem as a bureaucratic resistance to change globally. Moreover, in line with her previous statements, Africa Zanella called for an end to tokenism, explaining that women are not are homogenous group, and further factors must be taken into account, such as sector, region, etc.: requiring a more thorough and detailed analytic approach to developing gender-responsive policy. Finally, Ms Zanella mentioned ongoing research being undertaken by CIF World Bank, for which she is part of the reference group, which shows that what women in developing countries want is a voice, so they can give their perspective and decide their own fate.

About Union for the Mediterranean

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental Euro-Mediterranean organisation which brings together all countries of the European Union and 15 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. UfM’s mission is to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and the implementation of projects and initiatives with tangible impact on our citizens, with an emphasis on young people and women, in order to address the three strategic objectives of the region: stability, human development and integration.

Women for the Mediterranean

Pathways to Improved Resilience through Digital and Remote Access

eRImote Workshop

The eRImote project kicked off in June this year, devoted to considering solutions for digital and remote service provision across Research Infrastructure domains and looking for transferable practices and new developments that will improve accessibility and resilience. The second eRImote workshop, on 24 and 25 October 2022, focused on Remote Operations of RI services, including quality management, and questions of data and access security. Coherent with eRImote’s mission the workshop was offered remotely.

The final panel discussion on the first day was moderated by Johanna Bischoff of Euro BioImaging and featured LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda, alongside Christina Redfield from the University of Oxford and Robert Harmel of EU-OPENSCREEN. Dr González-Aranda’s presentation was entitled “Remote Operations of Infrastructure Services”, but the logic built up from a compelling and disturbing overview of the biodiversity crisis we all face.

Referencing IUCN Red List categories of endangered species data and extinctions since 1500, the presentation emphasised the essential importance of addressing the big environmental challenges by supporting knowledge-based strategic solutions to biodiversity loss. Only though large-scale monitoring can we understand the ecosystem functions and services that nourish life and benefit humans.  

LifeWatch ERIC is the structural tool within the European Research Area that supplies scientific knowledge complete enough to support political decision-making. Combining datasets, service and tools in state-of-the-art virtual research environments, LifeWatch ERIC’s Big Data, AI, HPC-Grid Cloud computing, backed with Blockchain, working with other Research Infrastructures, can deliver the goods.

“The Blue Crab” Wins International Prix Italia Festival

Prix Italia

Focused on sustainability, the 74th edition of the international Rai Festival of radio, TV and web productions took place from 4 – 8 October in Bari in southern Italy. The short film, realised by the students of University of Salento DAMS Filmmaking Laboratory in collaboration with LifeWatch ERIC, centres on the Blue Crab, an alien species that is increasingly replacing native species and changing the balance of the marine ecosystems in Europe.

Readers familiar with LifeWatch ERIC’s work will know that it spent its first five years focused on five validation cases on Non-indigenous and Invasive species in the development of its Virtual Research Environment. Students from the University of Salento, host of the LifeWatch Italy node and LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre, chose one of these validation cases as the premise for their submission to the “Sustainability” category of the Prix Italia festival this year: the infamous Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus).

This year’s theme being sustainability, students of the DAMS course quickly accepted Rai’s invitation to participate in the festival’s YLAB challenge, with a documentary made in collaboration with LifeWatch ERIC, the infrastructure’s Multimedia Production Centre and the Master’s course e-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sciences (EBES). The short film centres on the Blue Crab, an alien species that is increasingly replacing native species and changing the balance of the marine ecosystem in Europe – a focus for research supported by LifeWatch ERIC. It was produced by the University of Salento DAMS Filmmaking Laboratory under the technical supervision of Emiliano Carico by students Martina Di Noi, Immacolata Parisi, Mirko Clemente, Gaia Pascali, Federica Gianfreda, Alessia Merico, Valentina Capone, Cosimo Micelli, Stefania Bocco and Giorgia Chirico.

The students’ creative efforts paid off during the award ceremony at the Kursaal Theatre on Friday 7 October, where “The Blue Crab” won the YLAB challenge prize! To learn more about the effects of the Blue Crab in Europe, read the paper published in the Biodiversity Data Journal “An individual-based dataset of carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of Callinectes sapidus in invaded Mediterranean waters”.

Following this success, DAMS student Mirko Clemente went to the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS) Festival in Rome on Thursday 20 October to present the winning documentary in the session “Sustainability, Culture and Communication”. The aim of the Festival is to spread awareness about sustainability, make sustainable development a topical issue and draw national and local attention to the problems and opportunities related to the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda). The videos will soon also be broadcast on Sky.

Watch all the entries now on the LifeWatching Science Channel!

Il granchio blu (in Italian)

Our Earth, Our Home

Sonata breve (in Italian)

About the Prix Italia Festival

The 74th edition of the annual international Festival of radio, TV e web productions took place, organised by the Italian channel Rai, from 4 – 8 October in Bari in southern Italy, with the title “Sustainable Me”. Founded in Capri in 1948, the festival grows in influence each year, with 13 new members participating in the Prix Italia for the first time in 2022, among these Public Service broadcasters of Algeria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Jordan, Peru and the territory of Kosovo. This time round, the productions entered in the shortlists came from 31 different broadcasters and 23 different countries. Sixty-for competing products were selected by 86 jurors from the 321 works presented: 155 television programmes, 94 radio and 72 web projects. More than just a competition, Prix Italia is a celebration of creativity, with the three days full of conferences, shows, webinars and masterclasses, presented by a variety of international talents and attended by representatives from the UN, the Executive Board EBU (European Broadcasting Union) alongside the most noteworthy European broadcasters.

Marine Regions Launches Extended Continental Shelves Dataset

Extended Continental Shelves Dataset

Marine Regions, the database managed by focal point of LifeWatch Belgium, VLIZ, is proud to have launched the first version of the Extended Continental Shelves dataset. This latest dataset contains the portion of the continental shelf that extends beyond 200 Nautical Miles. Similar to the Exclusive Economic Zones dataset, it consists of both the outer limits of these areas and their polygon representations. Marine Regions is a standard list of marine georeferenced place names and areas.

How does it work?

The Marine Regions Gazetteer is a standard list of marine georeferenced place names and areas. Beside this list, shapefiles of Maritime Boundaries are created and/or shared. The Marine Regions Gazetteer provides the link between the species registers and the species occurrence databases in the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone. Various web services of Marine Regions are part of the LifeWatch Belgium e-lab.

Please contact info@marineregions.org if your organisation is interested in contributing to Marine Regions.

More detailed information about the dataset can be found in the original article on the LifeWatch Belgium website.

LifeWatch Greece integrated into GOOS Biology and Ecosystems GeoNode

GeoNode BioEco Portal

The LifeWatch Greece national node, led by HCMR, hosts a large and continuously updated database with biodiversity data collected from monitoring projects throughout the Mediterranean (MedOBIS). As of September, it has been integrated as a layer of GeoNode BioEco Portal as a monitoring project for Greek Bioversity.

The GOOS BioEco Portal is a publicly available tool to monitor the status of the marine biological observing system. The GEONODE is the back-end interface where registered users can upload, edit and manage their monitoring program details including which EOVs (Essential Ocean Variables) and EBVs (Essential Biodiversity Variables) are monitored; spatial and temporal information; status of the program; data availability and licences; standardisation and protocols; as well as links to applications, tools and outputs based on the collected observations. This GeoNode is hosted and maintained by the secretariat of the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) based at the IOC Project Office for IODE in Ostend, Belgium as a service to support the Global Ocean Observing System Biology and Ecosystem Panel.

You can find the original article on the LifeWatch Greece website.

Second open access data paper published in the Biodiversity Data Journal

procambarus clarkii

The “LifeWatch ERIC Collection of Data and Services Papers” published in the Biodiversity Data Journal is dedicated to the resources and assets developed, upgraded and used during the implementation of the Internal Joint Initiative (IJI), our flagship project focused non-indigenous and invasive species (NIS). Following the debut paper “An individual-based dataset of carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of Callinectes sapidus in invaded Mediterranean waters” (Di Muri et al.) in January, a second open-access data paper in this series was published on 20 October 2022, entitled “Individual and population-scale carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of Procambarus clarkii in invaded freshwater ecosystems” (Di Muri et al.).

Freshwater ecosystems are amongst the most threatened habitats on Earth; nevertheless, they support about 9.5% of known global biodiversity while covering less than 1% of the globe’s surface. One such threat are NIS such as the Louisiana crayfish, Procambarus clarkii. Crayfish species are widely-distributed freshwater invaders and, while alien species introductions occur mostly accidentally, alien crayfish are often released deliberately into new areas for commercial purposes. Native to the south United States and north Mexico, P. clarkii has been introduced in Europe, Asia and Africa, having negative impacts in the majority of invaded habitats where it became dominant, meaning it had become essential to evaluate the ecological consequences and quantify its impact.

The paper presents two geo-referenced datasets of isotopic signatures of the Louisiana crayfish and its animal and vegetable prey in invaded inland and brackish waters. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this effort represents the first attempt to collate in standardised datasets the sparse isotopic information of P. clarkii available in literature. The datasets provide a spatially explicit resolution of its trophic ecology and can be used to address a variety of ecological questions concerning its ecological impact on recipient aquatic food webs.

The research was carried out within the context of the IJI, more specifically the ‘Crustaceans Workflow’, one of the validation cases used to develop an interdisciplinary Virtual Research Environment that utilises disruptive technologies to deal with the impacts of NIS on native species, genetic diversity, habitats, ecosystem functioning and services, and to inform current practices in environmental management and policy implementation. Stay tuned for the next paper!


LifeWatch ERIC in Meeting on Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies

Tomorrow morning, on Wednesday 19 October, LifeWatch ERIC will have the opportunity to meet and establish relationships with other creators and promoters of disruptive technologies, at the online B2B meeting organised by PTE Disruptive of the Association of Science and Technology Parks of Spain (APTE) focused on opportunities in the biotech sector (in Spanish).

LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, will present in a slot from 10:40 – 11:00 CEST. In his presentation, he will talk about the range of disruptive technologies used by LifeWatch ERIC – the virtual infrastructure available to anyone who wishes to support research on biodiversity and the valorisation of ecosystem services with reliable data. 

Other participants include: Felipe Romera, president of Malaga TechPark and APTE, who will present the Spanish Platform of Disruptive Technologies; María Angeles Ferré, responsible for scientific-technical thematic programmes at the State Research Agency, who will talk about the aid programmes; Gabriel Anzaldi Varas, director of technological scientific development at EURECAT, who will speak about digital-bio technological convergence and its applications; and Raquel Álvarez Fernández, head of statistics and intelligence at the Spanish Association of Biocompanies (AseBio), who will discuss business opportunities in the biotech sector. 

The meeting will also see presentations from three company representatives with practical examples on the use of disruptive technologies: Exheus CEO, Teresa Tarragó; Zymvol Biomodeling SL CTO Maria Fátima Lucas; and Honey.Ai COO Iratxe Perales. APTE is funded by Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain through the AIE.

Interested persons are invited to register for the event using the form (in Spanish).

Bilateral meetings will be held after the presentations and will not be streamed.

Fortifying Spanish-Portuguese Cooperation on Technology for Research at IBERGRID 2022


IBERGRID 2022, the 11th Iberian Grid Conference, took place 10–13 October at the University of Algarve in Faro, Portugal. IBERGRID stands for the Iberian Grid Structure, federating computing and data resources across the Iberian area to support research and innovation. The theme of the conference was “Delivering Innovative Computing and Data Services for Research”, and LifeWatch ERIC had a strong presence at the event, with a presentation “EOSC Activities in the Environmental Sciences”  from ICT-Core e-Infrastructure Operations Coordinator Antonio José Sáenz on behalf of CEO Christos Arvanitidis and CTO Juan Miguel González-Aranda, as part of the EOSC tripartite event which took place on day 1, and a two-part workshop on “IBERLifeWatch” – focusing on a good practices approach for scientific, technology and innovation communities and on funding opportunities for Spanish-Portuguese cooperation on day 2 and day 4.

During the IBERLifeWatch workshop, LifeWatch ERIC was able to highlight its collaboration several prestigious research entities, with engaging presentations from representatives from FCTCSICMIRRI ERIC, the University of Huelva, the University of Granada, the FCCN UnitLIPGBIF, the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, the Spanish government, the Junta de Andalucía, the Interreg Spain-Portugal programme, the LIFE programme, Estacão Biológica de MértolaUniversity of PortoLeuphana Universität LüneburgADRAL, the University of Aveiro, the University of Minho and many more, as well as coordinators of the Spanish and Portuguese nodes of LifeWatch ERIC itself. State-of-the-art LifeWatch ERIC tools were presented, such as LifeBlock and Tesseract, alongside important ERDF projects in the region involving the participation of the infrastructure, such as SmartFood and Smart EcoMountains, as well as wide-reaching agroecology initiatives such as ALL-Ready. To learn about the technology underpinning these projects, please see the presentations below.

LifeWatch ERIC would like to thank event organisers University of AlgarveLIPINCD and CSIC. The Iberian Peninsula is a biodiversity hotspot and it is key that synergistic initiatives and projects such as those mentioned during the meeting are maintained and expanded, and IBERGRID 2022 provided the perfect opportunity to acknowledge and reinforce cross-border collaboration.

To see photos from the event, please see our gallery.

Presentations from the IBERLifeWatch workshop are available below:

José Manuel Ávila | Innovation on Agroecology to support a transition to more sustainable and resilient agrifood systems

Kety Cáceres Falcón & Sofía Vaz | Funding European opportunities for ES-PT collaboration

Estação Biológica de Mértola | Presentation

Juan Miguel González-Aranda | IBERLifeWatch: A scientific, technology and innovation Communities of good practices approach

Pablo Guerrero, Jaime Lobo & Emilio de Leon | Improving the environmental monitoring cycle, remote sensing & space technologies

Rohaifa Khaldi | Application of Artificial Intelligence in the study of Ecosystems

Emilio de Leon | Early detection of invasive species using metabarcoding

Joaquín López | LifeBlock and semantic environment status and roadmap

Carlos Javier Navarro | Remote Sensing in ecology and conservation of mountain systems

Nuria Pistón | Ecosystem Services modelling in mountain systems

José Rodriguez Quintero | University of Huelva cross-border projects

Teresa del Rey | Improving connectivity between populations of the endangered Iberian lynx

Antonio José Sáenz Albanés | Tesseract

Antonio José Sáenz Albanés | Technical Presentations Report

Diego de los Santos | Spanish-Portuguese cooperation for the conservation of Iberian biodiversity

Ester Serrão | Biodiversity and Function of underwater habitats

Centro Internacional de Investigacion e Innovacion en Biodiversidad

Oficina Técnica de apoyo a proyectos FEDER LifeWatch ERIC con Junta de Andalucía

Parque Natural Los Alcornocales

Valorizacion de servicios ecosistemicos mediante plataforma AI

Andalusian Minister of Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy visits LifeWatch ERIC

andalusia sustainability

The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Blue Economy of the Junta de Andalucía (Regional Government of Andalusia), Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, visited LifeWatch ERIC’s technological headquarters in Seville this week, in recognition of the Infrastructure as “a scientific and technological reference point” in the field of biodiversity, nature and climate change. He was accompanied by the deputy minister, Sergio Arjona, and the general secretary, María del Mar Plaza.

The purpose of the visit was for the representatives of the Junta de Andalucía to see first-hand the numerous projects LifeWatch ERIC is working on in the region to protect and restore biodiversity and combat the negative effects of climate change. One such example of this is the Indalo project, in collaboration with the Junta de Andalucía, aimed at creating a network of climate change monitoring observatories in the region, which sees the participation of Andalusian public universities, as well as government institutes IFAPA (Andalusian Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training) and INTA (National Institute of Aerospace Technology). It encompasses the study of biodiversity in Andalusian ecosystems, analysing emerging patterns from the impact of climate change, and possible consequences.

“The Junta de Andalucía is proud that an outstanding European scientific entity such as LifeWatch ERIC has its headquarters and management bodies, together with more than 20 scientists, many of them Andalusian, in Seville, which demonstrates the enormous potential of our region to face environmental challenges”, commented the Minister Fernández-Pacheco.

LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, who gave the tour, made the following statement: “We are honoured to have welcomed the Minister to our office. His visit is symbolic of the long-lasting synergy that LifeWatch ERIC has with the Junta de Andalucía, as successful collaborative projects continue to produce positive benefits for the region and further afield. We are extremely grateful for the Junta’s ongoing support.”

Assessing marine biodiversity: MARBEFES project kick-off meeting

Marbefes project

MARBEFES (MARine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning leading to Ecosystem Services) is the latest of LifeWatch ERIC’s related projects to launch, with the kick-off meeting taking place from 4–6 October in Sopot, Poland. The ambitious Horizon Europe project aims to evaluate and characterise the links between marine biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services and the resulting societal goods and benefits in coastal communities. The results will be captured in easy-to-use tools to help practitioners and policy to maximise the ecological value and optimise a sustainable socio-economic use of the marine system for current and future generations.

Representatives from all the MARBEFES project partners gathered in Sopot for a three-day kick-off meeting, involving general presentations of the project goals and expected results, including an overview of all the project Work Packages (WPs). On the first day of the meeting, as part of the general presentation of the project, LifeWatch ERIC CEO Christos Arvanitidis and International Initiatives & Projects Manager Cristina Huertas-Olivares illustrated LifeWatch ERIC’s leading role in in WP5 “Integration & Scenario”. The KOM also involved working group sessions to detail project partners’ involvement and interrelations between WPs to smooth further activities.

You can follow the MARBEFES project on Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved, please visit our Related Projects page