A Plenary Dedicated to Biodiversity in Support of the SDGs | The UNGA77 Science Summit


The Biodiversity Plenary at the Science Summit held to coincide with the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) was convened by LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF (the Global Biodiversity Information Facility) on Friday 16 September. The event brought together representatives from governments, research infrastructures and data repositories, with demonstrations of collaborative research systems and examples of innovative digital technologies to facilitate the society to meet the challenge set by the SDGs to preserve ecosystems, through better informed decision-making that is firmly rooted in science. 

With the support of the European Commission (European Regional Development Fund) and the Government of Andalusia, Spain, and organised and moderated by ISC Intelligence in Science (advisory firm specialised in science, technology and policy), the hybrid summit saw real engagement in global science cooperation with representation from Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, Ghana, Greece, Mongolia, Nigeria, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and the USA. Recommendations made at the conclusion confirmed the centrality of open data in attaining Sustainable Development Goals numbers 14, Life below Water, and 15, Life on Earth. 

The free availability and interoperability of biodiversity and ecosystem data globally is essential to solve the interrelated challenges of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, and the involvement of indigenous knowledge was acknowledged as being critical in identifying and implementing local solutions to these complex and global matters. Aligning policies, priorities and protocols will provide an enabling regulatory environment that will allow communities around the world to exchange data and interpret science-based knowledge with confidence.   

The meeting, held in the Extenda office of the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations in New York, provides a springboard to preparing input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA78 in September 2023. LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF were thanked at the end for providing powerful leadership in convening the summit.

Watch a recording of the full Plenary on the LifeWatching Science Channel.

See the complete day’s programme here.

ECSA59: Showcasing the LifeWatch ERIC VRE


ECSA59 was the first face-to-face meeting of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association in three years and attracted 460 participants to the Kursaal Conference Centre in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain from 5–8 September 2022. Under the theme of ‘Using the best scientific knowledge for the sustainable management of estuaries and coastal seas’, scientists from all over the world discussed urbanisation, remote sensing, social ecology, governance, resilience to global warming, modelling food webs and much, much more.

Professor Angel Borja of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (AZTI) as Conference Chair noted in his opening address how much things have changed in the 50 years since ECSA’s first papers were published in 1962. 150 years after Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition first circumnavigated the world, we are all now concerned that anthropogenic changes are impacting estuarine and coastal waters more than other domains, and the only way to set up sustainable management strategies is to provide decision-makers with the best scientific knowledge. 

Diverse aspects of that scientific knowledge were presented in five keynote plenaries and 44 parallel sessions over the four days of ECSA59. LifeWatch ERIC sponsored the conference and its stand proved very popular; early-career researchers in particular were keen to learn more about its open data, open-access Virtual Research Environment, the constantly-evolving result of the Infrastructure’s first internal project, which focuses on the topic of invasive alien species. The event concluded with field trips and the start of the AZTI Summer School. The next ECSA conference will be held in 2024.

Visitors to stand included: Mike Elliott, University of Hull; John Humphries, ECSA president-elect; Irene Prete, Università del Salento; Henrique Cabral, INRAE, France; Professor Omar Defeo, Universidad de la República de Uruguay; Patrick L. Friend, Deep-time Digital Earth; Irene Guarnieri, CNR-ISMAR; Nathalie Caill-Milly, Ifremer, France; Sonagnon Olivier Tokpanou, Université Laval, Quebec; Grzegorz Rozynski, Polish Academy of Sciences; Marina Dolbeth, University of Porto; and Heliana Teixeira, University of Aveiro.

LifeWatch Greece launches Marine Creatures Citizen Science platform for Nautilos project

Nautilos Marine Creatures

The Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture at the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research –coordinator of the LifeWatch Greece node– has launched a new citizen science platform for the Horizon2020 project, Nautilos. Using the software Zooniverse, they have called their platform for Nautilos Marine Creatures, at the service of citizen scientists everywhere. The aim of the project is to help identify the sessile and often unnoticed benthic communities living on hard substrates using high-definition underwater images from artificial reefs, ports and natural sea caves. Morphological characters can be used to identify the taxonomic groups of these sophisticated marine communities.

If you would like to participate in this voluntary project and help out, please click here and get involved! A Tutorial and a Field Guide are available which will help you discover the project, be a Citizen Scientist and learn more about the marine environment.

New EU project MarineSABRES to tackle coastal and marine biodiversity decline

marine biodiversity loss

LifeWatch ERIC is pleased to announce that it is involved as a partner in a new, EU-funded research project called MarineSABRES. The project aims to address the continued and accelerated biodiversity loss caused by the intensification of human activities at land and sea. The project — coordinated by MaREI, the SFI Centre for Energy, Climate, and Marine Research at University College Cork — will bring together an international consortium of 22 partners across 11 countries and will receive €9.8m in funding from Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. Running for four years, MarineSABRES aims to enable stakeholders from government and policy, coastal and marine management, scientists, and the public to make informed decisions that balance human and ecosystem needs.

To set European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline, MarineSABRES will bring together diverse audiences and perspectives to co-design a simple Socio-Ecological System (SES) framework. The aim of this approach is to strengthen interventions and measures for the protection and conservation of coastal and marine areas and improve the uptake of ecosystem-based management. The Simple SES will be tested in three areas: the Tuscan Archipelago, where research will focus on seagrass conservation and protection; the Arctic (Greenland, the Faroes, and Iceland), where work will address climate change and fisheries; and Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, and the Canaries), where the emphasis will be on biodiversity conservation and the responsible use of the region for multiple maritime activities.

The coming decade will be critical in meeting the challenge of climate change, reversing trends in biodiversity loss, and developing a sustainable ocean economy. Effective marine environmental management and biodiversity protection are fundamental to achieving the transformation to a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive low-carbon sustainable ocean economy. MarineSABRES’ Simple SES approach aims to show how we can protect and maintain the natural structure and processes of marine ecosystems while simultaneously delivering the societal goods and benefits that people rely on. Successful development of this Simple SES will enable managers to make sustainable decisions; empower citizens to engage with marine biodiversity conservation; promote sustainable development in coastal and marine sectors and setting European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline.

You can find more detailed information on this project at the following page

You can learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved on the Related Projects page

Stepping Closer to Biodiversity 2030 with Biodiversa+

Data Interoperability

On 1 September, alongside 37 other participants, LifeWatch ERIC took part in the Data Interoperability and Harmonisation workshop organised by Biodiversa+, with a presentation from LifeWatch ERIC Web Portal Officer, Lucia Vaira. During her presentation, she gave an overview of the EOSC Interoperability Framework in technical, semantic, organisational and legal terms, explaining the (Meta)data structure and workflows within LifeWatch ERIC, along with the status and main challenges of interoperability within the Infrastructure.

Biodiversa+ is the European Biodiversity Partnership supporting excellent research on biodiversity with an impact for society and policy. It was jointly developed by BiodivERsA and the European Commission as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, and will contribute to the ambition that “by 2030, nature in Europe is back on a path of recovery, and that by 2050 people are living in harmony with Nature”. The Commission recognises that it is vital to make biodiversity data more accessible in order to make faster progress in this research area and achieve the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

Lucia Vaira touched on many important topics in her presentation, demonstrating not only key openly-accessible LifeWatch ERIC tools such as the Metadata Catalogue and EcoPortal, but explaining the importance of interoperability to the Infrastructure: In light of the FAIR principles, interoperability essentially means that “research data need to be integrated with other data; and need to interoperate with applications or workflows for analysis, storage, and processing”, principles which are always held in consideration during the development of the Infrastructure’s tools. After all, interoperability is essential to enable the seamless combination of all LifeWatch ERIC’s assets, providing added value for the final users. You can access the full presentation here.

Other speakers at the event included Alberto Basset – Italian Ministry of Universities and Research, Hilde Eggermont – BelSPO, Dani Villero Pi and Nestor Fernandez – EuropaBON, Tim Hirsc – GBIF, and Sujeevan Ratnasingham and Rutger Vos – BIOSCAN/iBOL, with whom a fruitful discussion was held on how Biodiversa+ can help achieve effective data interoperability. LifeWatch ERIC is honoured to participate in opportunities to nurture and maintain multilateral dialogue within the European Research Area to support the EU Biodiversity 2030 Strategy, in line with its mandate to enhance understanding, linkages and synergies between biodiversity loss and other societal challenges. Increased interoperability with other biodiversity databases through the support of Biodiversa+ facilitates the Infrastructure in its mission to mobilise and integrate data and algorithms for biodiversity and ecosystem research.

Biodiversity Plenary at the UNGA77 Science Summit

Biodiversity Plenary


On Friday 16 September, LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, will organise a Biodiversity Plenary at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Science Summit in New York, which is taking place from 13 – 30 September to mark the 77th General Assembly of the UN. Together, they will present collaborative research systems and examples of innovative digital technologies to meet the challenge set by the SDGs to preserve ecosystems –specifically SDG 14 Life below Water and SDG 15 Life on Land– encouraging better informed decision-making that is firmly rooted in science. Their complementary experiences will be offered both to the national delegations in the General Assembly and to the international community, in order to increase understanding about the resources, procedures and examples of effective interventions that can halt biodiversity loss in the context of climate change – in fact, 40 speakers will participate: representatives and experts from world organisations such as the UN; regional institutions such as the European Commission; and directors of scientific centres and research consortia from all corners of the planet. In particular, the Biodiversity Plenary will call for special attention towards the contribution of agroecology to sustainable agriculture and biodiversity, also drawing on the knowledge of indigenous communities, and will contribute to the preparation of the 2023 UN Summit of the Future, which has the purpose of forging a great consensus in the face of global challenges.

The Plenary on Friday 16 September is one of the four Plenary Sessions of a programme that lasts over 18 days and includes more than 100 events, to examine the role of scientific research and cooperation in achieving the UN SDGs for 2030. It will be broadcast live on the UNGA Science Summit website. During the event, LifeWatch ERIC aims– both through the Biodiversity Plenary and the numerous meetings that it will hold in New York with authorities, diplomats, scientists, conservationists, administrators of resources and social agents– to create awareness of the 2030 Agenda. 

Biodiversity Plenary Programme

The hybrid Plenary, taking place on Friday 16 September in New York from 09:00  – 17:00 EDT, will be opened with contributions from representatives of supranational organisations, including European Commissioners, representatives from UNESCO, and national ministers.
It is split into two sessions; the first focuses on the growing importance of networked research infrastructures, with the data, services and resources that essentially provide the backbone for fundamental and applied science, and the definition of evidence-based policies. It will begin with the panel ‘Scientific Setting: How biodiversity is crucial to delivering UN’s SDGs and what has to happen now’. This will be followed by the panel entitled ‘Biodiversity Data: support for global policy optimisation’.
The second session, ‘Biodiversity Case Studies: Accessing global datasets and using new other forms of technology-enabled evidence to inform policy-making’, is focused on case studies of biodiversity that demonstrate the qualitative leap that access to global data sets brings, using new technologies as a way to broaden scientific evidence, which improves the orientation of policy to manage, preserve or recover ecosystems.

You can find more detailed information regarding speakers on the UNGA Science Summit website.

Balloon Sensor Released to Collect Data on Agriculture Biodiversity Impacts

Balloon Sensor

Andalusia, the region home to the LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat and ICT-Core, drives the innovative Smartfood Project in the agricultural and fishing sectors. SmartFood is led by the Andalusia Agency for Agriculture and Fisheries Development (AGAPA), which is part of the Junta de Andalucía, and its aim is to better understand the impact of agriculture on the region’s biodiversity. On Monday 18 July, in Cordoba, a project event was held in which a balloon sensor probe was thrown, attended by LifeWatch ERIC CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Project Coordinator, Rocío Moreno Domínguez, Direction Secretary and QARM/FitSM Technical Assistant, María Luz Vázquez Santana, and Satellite & HAPS Operations Manager for Earth Observations and Navigation Applications, Jaime Lobo.

The first flight of the balloon sensor probe took place on Cordoba University Campus, called ‘Rabanales’, with the principal aim of gathering data on the agricultural impact on a natural environment, as well as identifying and quantifying variables associated with ecosystem services in the agricultural sector.

AGAPA Director, José Carlos Álvarez Martín, commented on the importance of governamental institutions like Junta de Andalucía supporting projects as Smartfood, given the strategic importance of the agriculture and fishing sectors.

In the same vein, Dr Arvaniditis noted that the Andalusian region is a strategic European partner, due to its agricultural potential and natural protected areas becoming a hotspot for the development of these kinds of projects.

Finally, Dr González-Aranda highlighted that these types of projects are essential for sustainability development and innovation, so that we can measure the impact of climate change in order to advise better decision-making based on FAIR data. He also mentioned the importance of optimising existing distributed resources by improving our understanding of their associated ecosystem services.

LifeWatch Italy in ParAqua Initiative to Investigate Algae-Parasite Interaction


In May this year, LifeWatch Italy was invited to join the COST Action CA20125 – Applications For Zoosporic Parasites In Aquatic Systems – ParAqua.

The main aims of this project are to organise and coordinate an innovative and dynamic network of academia researchers, industries, and water management authorities to advance and apply knowledge and expertise on zoosporic parasites (i.e. aquatic fungi and fungi-like microorganisms) and the relation with their hosts in natural ecosystems and industrial algal biotech production. 

Among the ParAqua objectives, specific task of WG1 and WG2 is to compile and integrate a database on zoosporic parasites across Europe and inventorise parasite effects on algal hosts in algal biotech and natural systems.

Ilaria Rosati and Andrea Tarallo, from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and in charge of several management aspects within LifeWatch Italy, joined the Action as members of WG 1 and 2. They led the workshop to kick off the activity, held in Larnaca (CY) on 5 July 2022, and will coordinate the actions to collect and manage the data provide by the project participants that will be hosted on the ParAqua database.

The final goal is to build the database and use it in order to provide a tool to help researchers and companies to take early data-informed decisions for algae cultures and parasite recognition.

This news item was originally posted on the LifeWatch Italy website.

ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting

ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting

The ALL-Ready Pilot Network Meeting took place on 4-6 July 2022 in Ghent, including a Demonstration Day in Hansbeke. The meeting gathered the members of the Pilot Network and the consortium partners, in person and remotely. The meeting included an interesting discussion about how to operationalise the thematic working groups during the project and a learning roundtable about best practices for co-creation, involving stakeholders. On the second day, a workshop was organised for Work Packages 4, 5 and 6 to discuss 1) Why a European Network of Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructure is important, 2) What competencies and skills a European Network can improve, and 3) How a Virtual Research Environment can support a European Network. The second day concluded with a ILVO Living Lab Agrifood Technology demo of their agro-ecological trial platform in Hansbeke – a great opportunity to experience how a #LivingLab operates and to learn how to improve soil quality based on low input use.

During the meeting, Iria Soto, LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Project Manager, represented the infrastructure as a member of the Pilot Network, and José Manuel Ávila, LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Coordinator, dynamised the workshop to validate the functionalities of the Agroecology Virtual Research Environment, which was already defined in the previous workshop, with the members of the Pilot Network. 

ALL-Ready is a European-Funded H2020 project that aims to prepare a framework for a future European network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures that will enable the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe. Based on the premise that agroecology can strengthen the sustainability and resilience of farming systems, the project will contribute to addressing the multiple challenges that they are facing today including climate change, loss of biodiversity, dwindling resources and degradation of soil and water quality. It is a Coordination and Support Action funded by the European Commission. 

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

Research Infrastructures Accelerating Global Effort to Achieve Environmental Sustainability

ESOF 2022

Today, 15 July 2022, the ERIC Forum organised an online session as part of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF2022), taking place in Leiden from 13 – 16 July 2022.

The session, entitled “Research Infrastructures’ contribution to environmental sustainability puts Research Infrastructures and the added value they bring to the European Research Area in the spotlight, with their major role in creating new opportunities to advance scientific research, enabling access to large-scale facilities and e-Science infrastructures.

LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, is joining the session with a presentation on the “The key role of Research Infrastructures to advance Environmental Sustainability through Digital Transformation”. Illustrating the role that LifeWatch ERIC tools like Tesseract and LifeBlock can play in the organisation and management of knowledge, the presentation demonstrates how, through the many projects in which the infrastructure is involved, they can support biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services monitoring and assessment, and ultimately human well-being, contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals, as well as the targets of the European Biodiversity Strategy and Green Deal.

Today’s panel also witnesses the participation of ESBB President, Dominik Lermen, Deputy Director of CERIC-ERIC, Ornela de Giacomo, Director General of BBMRI-ERIC, Jens Habermann, and was moderated by the ERIC Forum Chair, and Director of JIV-ERIC, Francisco Colomer.