LifeWatch ERIC at the EOSC Winter School 2024 in Thessaloniki

eosc winter school

The EOSC Winter School 2024 took place in Thessaloniki, Greece, from January 29 to February 1. The meeting aimed to establish a solid foundation to encourage innovation, accelerate scientific discoveries, and empower researchers across Europe and beyond. The meeting gathered representatives from all EOSC-related projects. The discussions included policy recommendations, concrete case studies, and information exchange on future models. The event was held at the Mediterranean Palace, offering a focused environment for mutual learning and networking.

Our CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, attended the meeting as LifeWatch ERIC leads Work Package Number 6 (WP6) of the EOSC Future project. This Horizon 2020 project aims to implement the European Open Science Cloud, supporting the establishment of a reliable platform for open science where data, resources, and services in all scientific disciplines will be available in a fair and accessible manner. 

Following a suggestion of the European Commission, the EOSC Association, organised the EOSC Winter School to address the need for a collective knowledge environment that promotes an inclusive and interconnected research ecosystem for all consortium partners contributing to EOSC, which emerged during the latest coordination meetings.

The school was opened by  Ute Gunsenheimer (EOSC Association) with the inauguration of the Plenary Session, followed by engaging discussions bringing together diverse perspectives and providing a rich blend of insights and experiences.

One of the short-term objectives is to ensure that the Task Forces of the EOSC Association collaborate in a structured manner with the EOSC projects. This collaboration should be hands-on and technical, with a focus on the six identified Opportunity Areas (PIDs, Metadata, Ontologies & Interoperability, FAIR Assessment & Alignment, User & Resource Environments, Skills, Training, Rewards, Recognition & Upskilling, and Open Scholarly Communication).

Mid-term objectives aim to ensure seamless project onboarding and shape EOSC’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) 2.0 through inter-project collaborations. In the long term, the objectives are to increase the potential of Horizon Europe’s EOSC-related projects to deliver sustainable results that benefit the ESOC deployment and maximise project impact. 

To learn more about the EOSC Winter School in 2024, please visit the official webpage.

World Wetlands Day: How our wellbeing relies on restoring wetlands

world wetlands day

Today, 2 February 2024, is the 27th World Wetlands Day. As The World Health Organization said, our well-being depends on the stability of our climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development. Wetlands play a significant role in connecting all three factors.

For instance, just an acre of wetlands can hold up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater, protecting coastal areas against natural disasters. Peatlands have the potential to store twice as much carbon as the global forest biomass. Wetlands also provide food for up to 4.5 billion people annually through the fish and rice paddies harvested from them.

On this day, we would like to draw attention to an article created as part of the RESTORE4Cs project, in which LifeWatch ERIC participate. The project aims to model wetland restoration for carbon pathways, climate change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystem services, and biodiversity co-benefits.

“For centuries people have found solace in remote wetlands, but there is now evidence that spending time in places like these actually helps boost mental health. This is particularly essential for the dark winter months in northern latitude”,

Mark Reed, Professor of Rural Entrepreneurship at Scotland’s Rural College

Despite this history, we are now losing these ecosystems alarmingly. The 2018 Global Wetland Outlook from the Ramsar Convention revealed that one third of the wetlands have been lost globally since 1970, mainly to urbanization and agriculture. A key theme of World Wetlands Day 2024 is the need to act now, and Europe’s researchers believe we already have solutions to turn things around.

“I think global treaties and recent EU laws mean we’re in the right decade to restore these ecosystems”

Dania Abdul Malak, Director of European Topic Centre for Spatial Analysis and Synthesis at the University of Malaga

Nowadays there are policies that can really help reestablish their function, and make sure they can also provide ecosystem services. Restoring wetland ecosystems will become critical for a more sustainable climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing by 2030.

Matuesz Grygoruk, Professor at Warsaw University of Life Sciences’ (SGGW) Department of Hydrology, Meteorology and Water Management

Mateusz suggested prioritising wetland restoration as a central focus in determining environmental management actions. He argued that these efforts are crucial in restoring the functions of wetlands, which are irreplaceable through any other management measures.

Restoring wetlands can have significant benefits, such as improving their biodiversity, water storage capacity, and ability to sequester carbon in soil. WET HORIZONS, a sister project of RESTORE4Cs, aims to enhance wetlands restoration and support European wetland policy.

To learn more about RESTORE4Cs and their commitment to World Wetlands Day, visit this project page.

DTO-BioFlow: Building the biodiversity component of the Digital Twin of the Ocean

Funded through the EC Horizon Europe Programme and coordinated by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), DTO-BioFlow aims at incorporating previously unavailable or difficult-to-access marine-biodiversity data into the biodiversity component of the EU Digital Twin Ocean, ensuring sustainable data flows for marine biodiversity research.

When it comes to observing, mapping, and monitoring biodiversity in maritime ecosystems, marine habitats present specific and one-of-a-kind issues. In spite of the fact that significant advancement has been made in Europe to collect, harmonise, and make available data on marine biodiversity, particularly as a result of the efforts of European research infrastructure (such as EMODnet, Copernicus Marine, and other related European and international initiatives (MBON, OBIS, GOOS)), a large portion of the data that is currently being collected is unavailable and inaccessible; this type of data is referred to as “sleeping data.”

That’s the stage when DTO BioFlow Project steps in: its primary objective is to awaken sleeping biodiversity data, enabling a smooth integration of both existing and new data into the EU Digital Twin Ocean.

The project aligns with the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and Nature Restoration Law and with the mission “Restore our oceans and waters by 2030”, both of which advocate for the protection and restoration of land and sea regions.

The DTO-BioFlow Kick off meeting

DTO-BioFlow project kicked off on September 27th in Ostend, Belgium. The meeting was hosted at the InnovOcean Campus and organised by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the project’s coordinator, host and technical manager of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) portal.

LifeWatch ERIC is one of the 30 partners from 14 countries that make up DTO-BioFlow Consortium. The other project partners include research, infrastructures (e.g., EMBRC), networks (MBON), organisations (ICES), global aggregators and platforms (OBIS), and others.

The consortium partners bring together biological monitoring infrastructures and experts, data managers, and DTO developers, marine biodiversity-relevant policy development and implementation and enabling the Mission to meet its 2030 targets.

Revolutionizing Access to Ocean Biodiversity Data and Driving Sustainable Integration

Between September 2023 and February 2027, DTO-Bioflow will come up with creative and long-term solutions that will make previously unavailable or difficult-to-access marine-biodiversity data available to the public. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the flow of relevant biodiversity data by unlocking current barriers to assimilation and ingestion.”, explains Klaas Deneudt, manager of the VLIZ Marine Observation Centre and coordinator of the DTO BioFlow project.

Over the next four years DTO-BioFlow consortium will work on consolidating standards, quality control, communication protocols, harmonisation pipelines, data products, data models, ingestion procedures and incentives for sustainable connection to improve the interoperability and digitisation of biodiversity data. The project will also test out various technologies that are both affordable and adaptable to carry out species monitoring on a massive scale. The end-to-end approach will be demonstrated via a number of science-based use cases and via mechanisms to monitor, measure progress and drive community action towards increasing biodiversity data flows. To learn more about DTO-BioFlow, please visit the project website.

In Brussels to present the All-Ready project: meet the Agroecology Virtual Lab

Agroecology Living Labs & Research Infrastructures

In collaboration with AE4EU, ALL-Ready organised its final event in Brussels on 27 September 2023. The conference was hosted by the Committee of the Regions.

Our Agroecology Project Manager, Iria Soto Embodas, presented the All-Ready project in the panel “Practice Perspective: How to put Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures in practice? Q&A”. Within the project, one of the deliverables was to produce the Agroecology Virtual Lab, a collaboration platform to standardise collaboration for research and innovation. During the event, the steps to achieve this were presented.

The one-day conference highlighted two projects that have laid the foundation for a European Network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures. The discussions focused on how these projects can best support the transition to agroecology and translate theoretical concepts into practical applications. The event explored the lessons learned from three years of project work and highlighted regions’ role in driving agroecology transitions.

The Agroecology Virtual Lab

The Agroecology Virtual Lab is a web platform designed to simplify, centralise, digitalise and streamline the creation of interdisciplinary innovation ecosystems and communities via collaboration with complementary partners that match your needs. This Agroecology Virtual Lab includes, among other functionalities, a marketplace, networking tools, a repository of resources for dissemination and knowledge sharing, geographical visualisation of innovation ecosystems available agroecology best practices and other data management functionalities.

The platform caters to individuals and organisations from various sectors, including research, innovation, public, and civil sectors. The main objective of Agroecology Virtual Labs is to assist scientists, academics, small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, authorities, public bodies, consumers, citizens, and anyone interested in agrifood systems. Additionally, it aims to bring together stakeholders from different sectors of society to foster collaboration and exchange of knowledge on real-world applications of agroecology, research questions, technological solutions, and any other innovative ideas.

About the project

Agricultural systems face multiple challenges today, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, dwindling resources, and soil and water quality degradation. To address these challenges, Open Innovation Arrangements, including Living Labs and Research Infrastructures, can pave the way to enhance the sustainability and resilience of farming systems.

There is great potential to promote agroecology in Europe. The main objective of ALL-Ready is to establish AgroEcoLLNet, the framework for a future European network of LLs and RI that will facilitate the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe. To learn more about All-Ready, please visit the project website.