ESFRI Landmark Monitoring: LifeWatch ERIC undergoes its first five-year assessment

Monitoring of ESFRI Landmarks

The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Landmarks were introduced in the ESFRI Roadmap 2016 as reference Research Infrastructures (RIs) and are pillars in the European Research Area (ERA) landscape, offering not only services to academic research but also supporting development and innovation. Guaranteeing the excellence of the Landmark label, ESFRI shoulders responsibility for monitoring the quality of the RIs listed in the ESFRI roadmap as Landmarks. Therefore, it has started the evaluation process of all active ERICs subdividing them in three batches, in 2022. 

LifeWatch ERIC had entered the ESFRI Roadmap back in 2006, while it was attributed the status of Landmark in 2016 and has then formally established as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium on 17 March of the following year. 

“This spring it was time for LifeWatch ERIC, together with the other RIs of the third batch, to undergo its first five-year monitoring assessment which will be carried out by a dedicated Monitoring Panel” says Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO. “The report submitted by LifeWatch ERIC provides a picture of the advancements and results achieved in the last first years of its activity, as well as of the challenges ahead of us. I want to thank all LifeWatch ERIC and National Distributed Centres colleagues, who contributed to the submission of this report, as well as the members of our Scientific and Technical Advisory Board (STAB) and General Assembly”.

The Monitoring should further enable regular exchange between ESFRI and Landmarks on their long-term development, assess the quality of each individual Landmark, identify possible problems and support the Landmarks to take appropriate actions. It shall also provide information on the performance, outputs and impacts of the Landmarks. 

The results of the 3rd batch evaluation are expected by December 2024.

To know more about the ESFRI Landmark Monitoring, please refer to:

Civil Society Roundtable: ‘Gender, climate change and health: how can we do better for women and girls?’

On August 1st, 2023, an interactive online roundtable alongside gender, climate, and health experts to devise gender-responsive climate strategies focusing on health. Africa Zanella, LifeWatch ERIC International Gender Officer, had been invited to share her viewpoint and make her recommendations.

As many studies pointed out, climate change disproportionately affects women, girls and marginalised communities, compromising the rights of women and girls and slowing the advancement of gender equality.
Growing evidence shows that the climate crisis has an impact on women’s health and their access to health services. Health impacts related to food insecurity, infectious diseases, mental illness, and poor sexual and reproductive health are increasing due to the warming climate.
International commitments emphasise the importance of gender equality and women’s participation in climate action, but the reality is that gender considerations are yet to be effectively mainstreamed in ongoing climate change strategies, activities and national planning.
The interactive roundtable ‘Gender, climate change and health: how can we do better for women and girls?’ alongside gender, climate, and health experts aimed to study the intersection of these issues and devise gender-responsive climate strategies focusing on health.

Africa Zanella, LifeWatch ERIC International Gender Office, had been invited to join the event and share her viewpoint and perspective on these critical issue with other fellow civil society leaders and specialists in gender, health and climate, including inspirational women working in climate-affected rural communities. Africa is a renowned global expert in gender issues and a social scientist; currently based in Europe, she comes from Australia, one of the eleven Commonwealth member states in the Pacific region (and among one of its historic, founder members in 1931 along with New Zealand).
She made her recommendations during the live event while explaining LifeWatch ERIC’s vision, and how our Research Infrastructures could support researchers and climate action.
“LifeWatch ERIC is the European e-Science and Technology Consortium for biodiversity and ecosystems research, composed of eight member states (Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain), with a Statutory office in Seville and Common Facilities in Italy and the Netherlands”, she explained. “LifeWatch ERIC provides access to a multitude of datasets, webservices and other research resources, allowing the accelerated capture of data, their analysis and support for knowledge-based decision-making for biodiversity & ecosystem management. Under a Gender Equality Plan and EU guidelines, LifeWatch ERIC has promoted a greater participation rate of professional women scientists to help us have a more cohesive as well as fair and scientific gender balance vision of our climate issues and solutions”.

Moreover, she focused on climate finance, illustrating in particular the World Bank Climate Investment Fund, highlighting the nexus between climate, health and gender, and the importance of an inclusive and rights-based approach towards development and disaster risk reduction frameworks.
“Women and girls are reportedly disproportionately affected by disasters: some estimates show for example that women comprised 70% of casualties after the 2004 Indian ocean tsunami; women’s higher vulnerability to risks is rooted in socially defined roles within reproduction and caregiving – women with families suffered the most because of the ‘family commitment’ with aging parents and children-. As Gender Focal Point for the Climate Investment Fund (CIF), I’ve been engaged in integrating gender into programmes, e.g. in the Nature People and Climate Programme, when we focused on differential impact of climate change on men and women, and the specific vulnerabilities of women and girls in disaster situations, exploring even the intersectional nature of women’s realities that are manifested through age, class, caste, disabilities, health status, migrant status, sexual orientation, gender identities, health status, etc.”

Organised by the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society supporting people’s participation in democracy and development, the roundtable aimed to be useful to identify and devise collective positions on gender, climate and health ahead of the 13th Women Affairs Ministerial Meeting (13WAMM) in August where the conclusions from this roundtable will be presented to Ministers and Senior Officials.
Commonwealth Member States use the Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting to set shared priorities for gender equality and women’s empowerment. This year’s Meeting will also shape the gender equality agenda for the 2024 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Samoa.

“In summary”, she concluded, “climate change is a global issue that affects communities, decision-making, economic activities at global, national and regional level; for this reason, we have to consider the global and the ‘local’ dimension of the problem, looking at the organisational culture and socio-economic aspects of each countries and regions. We must address the challenge of a just and sustainable transition for all, mainstreaming health, gender equality and women’s empowerment in climate policies”.

Policy recommendations and video highlights from the Roundtable with Ministers and Senior Officials will be shared next month.

For further information, visit the page of the event.

Enhancing Biodiversity Access through Collaboration

We are delighted to announce the collaboration between LifeWatch ERIC and OpenAIRE, aimed at advancing Open Science. By joining forces, we will enhance the accessibility of Open Science, improve the FAIRness of LifeWatch ERIC research and enrich the OpenAIRE Graph.

Open Science is gradually becoming the modus operandi in research practices, shaping the way researchers collaborate and publish, discover, and access scientific knowledge. Scientists are increasingly publishing research results beyond the article, to share all scientific products generated during an experiment, such as metadata, data, analytical services, etc.

LifeWatch ERIC and OpenAIRE proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding to sustain and accelerate Open Science. They commit to enhance their Open Science activities by improving the FAIRness of the LifeWatch ERIC research and enriching the OpenAIRE Graph. Both organisations have joined forces to work on EOSC projects, with the OpenAIRE Graph playing a crucial role in aggregating data sources and connecting metadata such as funding information, data, publications, software, and other unique identifiers (PIDs). Through this collaboration, the combined efforts of Lifewatch ERIC and OpenAIRE will enhance the overall data quality presented on the EOSC Portal.

As a result of this collaboration, all publications, datasets, research projects, software and other outputs of LifeWatch ERIC will now be made accessible through an OpenAIRE CONNECT gateway. Moreover, a MONITOR service with a set of configurable indicators and tools will be made available to simplify research monitoring and evaluation, while measuring and increasing the uptake of Open Science practices.

Sustaining flagship project outputs that provide the infrastructural backbone of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) and open data discovery is a priority to both organisations. These efforts will also play key role in realising a meaningful European Open Science Cloud for research communities, building upon the work that is already undertaken in other projects, such as EOSC-FUTURE, FAIR-IMPACT, BioDT and OpenAIRE Nexus project. 

“Providing access to the world’s biodiversity content, services and communities in one click is LifeWatch ERIC’s vision. The signature of this Memorandum of Understanding is yet another milestone to this direction, by fostering synergies and complementing each other, both OpenAIRE and LifeWatch ERIC will have a more significant impact and valuable contribution to the acceleration and integration of Open Science and FAIRness within the European Research Area and beyond, providing even more innovative and interoperable tools for our research communities”, Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Executive Officer.

“This partnership aims to bring together the biodiversity communities closer to Open Science in practical ways, through shared infrastructure, bringing economies of scale, and building trusted relationships. OpenAIRE can only learn from LifeWatch ERIC so as to calibrate our services to respond to the real needs of this vibrant community”, Natalia Manola, OpenAIRE CEO.


LifeWatch ERIC: LifeWatch ERIC is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium providing e-Science research facilities and services to scientists investigating biodiversity and ecosystem functions in order to support society in addressing key societal challenges linked to climate change and resource efficiency, food security and agriculture, sustainable development, energy and health. LifeWatch ERIC’s vision is to become the Research Infrastructure providing access to the world’s biodiversity content, services and communities in one click.

OpenAIRE: OpenAIRE is a Non-Profit Partnership, established in 2018 as a legal entity, OpenAIRE AMKE, to ensure a permanent open scholarly communication infrastructure and support research in Europe and beyond. OpenAIRE is making Open Science happen. Collectively and in practical ways. Its fields of expertise and activities include services, policies and training. Operating since 2009, OpenAIRE is an integral part and a leading force behind the European Open Science Cloud developments.

OpenAIRE Nexus: The Horizon 2020 OpenAIRE-Nexus project, a consortium of 11 partners, brings in Europe, EOSC and the world a set of services to implement and accelerate Open Science and tools to embed in researchers’ workflows, making it easier for them to accept and uptake Open Science practices of openness and FAIRness.

Semantic Academy: the registration for the LifeWatch ERIC Intensive School is now open!

In recent years, one of the major challenges in Environmental and Earth Sciences has been managing and searching larger volumes of data, collected across multiple disciplines. Many different standards, approaches, and tools have been developed to support the Data Lifecycle from Data Acquisition to Data Curation, Data Publishing, Data Processing and Data Use. In particular, modern semantic technologies provide a promising way to properly describe and interrelate different data sources in ways that reduce barriers to data discovery, integration, and exchange among biodiversity and ecosystem resources and researchers. Therefore, we are delighted to announce the launch of the 2023 edition of The Semantic Academy – The LifeWatch ERIC Intensive School: Boost your research with semantic artifacts. And this time, we are back in person!

This school is organized by LifeWatch ERIC and will take place in Lecce, from 25 to 29 September 2023.
This edition’s title is “Boost your research with semantic artifacts”. This course is built as a five-day intensive school providing the knowledge on how to create semantic artifacts for a specific domain and use them to annotate and analyse data in a Virtual Research Environment (VRE). It will cover topics such as Data Science, Semantics, Ontology, Vocabularies, Virtual Research Environments (VREs). The School is therefore mainly aimed at IT architects, Research Infrastructure (RI) service developers and user support staff, and RI staff.

The Semantic Academy will welcome participants with a welcome cocktail event and social dinner, while the actual Intensive School programme will last from Monday afternoon to Friday morning, closing with a certificate ceremony.

The outline of the School programme is as follows:

  1. Introducing the LifeWatch ERIC eScience Infrastructure
  2. Ontology Engineering
  3. Designing and Developing vocabularies
  4. Using Semantics for discovering, accessing and analysing data in the Notebook-as-a-VRE (NaaVRE)
  5. Putting everything together: practical activity with participants projects presentations

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Interested persons are invited to apply by 30 July by filling in the sign-up form here
Participation is free, but registration is compulsory. Three grants are made available by LifeWatch ERIC to support applicants younger than 30 years. Successful candidates will be offered accommodation for the whole duration of the intensive school on the basis of their motivation letter and their curricula, while travel must be self-funded. LifeWatch ERIC is an equal opportunity organisation, and encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of race, gender, age, national origin, or sexual orientation. Follow LifeWatch ERIC updates!

You can access the dedicated minisite with more detailed information on the Semantic Academy here.
You can find information about other Summer Schools on Data FAIRness previously organised by LifeWatch ERIC and the ENVRI Community on our Training & Education page.