LifeWatch ERIC and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) are meeting from 30 May to 2 June, 2023, to support the Kunming-Montreal package of decisions adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, approved at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, in December 2022.Continue reading
The LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core held an extensive working meeting at their headquarters in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park in Seville, with Octavi Quintana, Director of PRIMA Foundation.
PRIMA’s Director left an important legacy as Director of “European Research Area”, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, while fostering the development of Research Infrastructures and policies.
LifeWatch ERIC and PRIMA – The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area – are exploring collaboration opportunities with the intention of extending good practices and use of e-research tools in Mediterranean countries.
The aim of the PRIMA Foundation is to build research and innovation capacities and develop much-needed, shared and innovative solutions for a more sustainable management of water and agri-food systems in the Mediterranean basin. PRIMA focuses in particular on new research and innovation approaches to improve: sustainable management of water in arid and semi-arid Mediterranean areas; sustainable farming systems under Mediterranean environmental constraints; sustainable Mediterranean agri-food value chain for regional and local development.
LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, introduced the team and explained the major initiatives in applied research and innovation, and the digital tools that LifeWatch ERIC is designing and developing to protect biodiversity and ecosystems, both in natural and urban environments. All this in collaboration with international networks such as GBIF, UNOOSA and IUCN-Med, while contributing to strengthen networks such as the EU-CELAC Working Group on Research Infrastructures.
Researchers and Project coordinators, José Manuel Ávila-Castuera (Agroecology), Jaime Lobo Domínguez-Roqueta (Satellite & HAPS Operations), Rohaifa Khaldi and Yassir Benhammou (Data Science & Artificial Intelligence), presented in detail the ongoing projects and their challenges, such as the transition from productive models to agroecology, or the generation of more precise and reliable data for the sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystem services.
On 24–25 April, LifeWatch ERIC participated in the working groups of the EU-LAC Knowledge Forum, held in Montevideo, Uruguay. The event was organised by the EU-LAC International Foundation, with the Uruguayan International Cooperation Agency (AUCI) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) as main partners. Its purpose was to generate input to feed the agenda of the high authorities of the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean at the Summit of Heads of State and Government in the field of access to knowledge, higher education, and science, technology, and innovation. This CELAC-EU Summit of Heads of State and Government is scheduled for 17–18 July 2023, within the programme of the Spanish presidency of the European Union.
120 representatives of international or national organisations and entities participated in the EU-LAC Knowledge Forum. In addition to the plenary sessions, the work in the forum was structured in 3 face-to-face and 3 virtual groups to exchange good practices, experiences and balances of cooperation in science, technology and innovation, higher education and opportunities. LifeWatch ERIC was represented by its CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, and by Maite Irazábal Plá, EU-LAC Fundraising, Networking & Projects Manager.
Within the framework of the international expansion process of LifeWatch ERIC, and with the objectives of this high-level strategic discussion forum, Juan Miguel González-Aranda held meetings with numerous authorities and representatives of the academic and scientific communities, experts from international organizations, and senior government officials. Among others, with the Vice Chancellor of the Republic of Uruguay, Nicolás Albertoni; with the Vice Minister of the Environment of Uruguay, Gerardo Amarilla de Nicola; with the Executive Director of the EU-LAC Foundation, Adrián Bonilla; with the Director of Innovation, Science and Technology of Uruguay, Alberto Majó; with the Ambassador of the EU in Uruguay, Paolo Berizzi; with the Ambassador of Spain in Uruguay, Santiago Jiménez; and with AUCI Executive Director, Mariano Berro.
The meeting with Gerardo Amarilla de Nicola, who received LifeWatch ERIC’s CTO at the complex of the Presidency of the Republic of Uruguay, had special relevance. They delved into local governance mechanisms to help implement e-Biodiversity measures in compliance with the 2030 SDGs, in synergy with the EU Green Deal and themes of Blue Growth, Agroecology, etc., applying the Motto “Thinking globally, acting locally”. They also discussed the establishment of a LifeWatch ERIC Office in Uruguay.
Also importantly, LifeWatch ERIC participated in the Forum in Working Group 1: Cooperation in science, technology, and innovation, dedicated to topics such as: Research Infrastructures; enabling environments for innovation; technology transfer; open science / open access policies; and the role of research institutions to generate the technical and scientific knowledge and expertise needed to implement EU Global Gateway investment agenda. In this vein, Juan Miguel González-Aranda reaffirmed the work of LifeWatch ERIC as a research infrastructure of best practices in EU-LAC within the framework of Biodiversity, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, citing specific working methods through the Bioregions paradigm.
We are excited to announce the upcoming 2nd ALL-READY Regional Workshop, entitled “Accelerating the Agroecology Transition: Your potential role and benefits of contributing to a European Network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures”. This interactive discussion session will take place on 11 May 2023, at the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core premises in Seville, Spain, and will also be available online as a hybrid event.
The workshop is organised by LifeWatch ERIC, Thünen Institute and INRAE as part of the ALL-Ready project, and will focus on exploring the potential of a European Network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures to enable the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe.
The European Partnership under Horizon Europe for Accelerating Farming Systems Transition by Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures is currently being prepared by the SCAR Agroecology Strategic Working Group. ALL-Ready is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) funded by the European Commission with the aim of preparing a framework for a future European network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures.
The workshop will not only raise awareness of the future Horizon Europe Partnership on Agroecology but also build on the knowledge gained at the previous workshop in November 2022. The event will provide a platform for exchange and networking among local and regional actors, exploring possible solutions to overcome problems and difficulties that initiatives face in the transition process. The workshop will particularly emphasise a capacity-building programme for Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures.
This workshop is ideal for policy makers and funding organisations, companies, entrepreneurs, researchers and academics, living lab representatives and practitioners, innovators, and participants of an initiative related to the agroecology transition.
We invite all interested parties to join us for the ALL-READY Regional Workshop on 11 May in the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core premises in the Italian Pavilion (Isla de la Cartuja), Seville for an engaging and productive discussion about the potential of agroecology and the role of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures in driving this transition forward.
The 18 April 2023 saw the inauguration of the European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency, ECAT. Like LifeWatch ERIC, it is headquartered in Seville, where the inauguration took place. ECAT is part of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission – its in-house science and knowledge service – and works in close cooperation with the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). Its objectives are to systematise ethics in the use of digital technologies, and to generate and disseminate FAIR data – in line with the mission of LifeWatch ERIC.
ECAT will provide the Commission with in-house technical and scientific expertise to ensure that algorithmic systems used by the Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines comply with the risk management, mitigation and transparency requirements in the DSA. This includes, amongst other tasks, the performance of technical analyses and evaluations of algorithms. An interdisciplinary team of data scientists, AI experts, social scientists and legal experts will combine their expertise to assess their functioning and propose best practices to mitigate their impact. This will be crucial to ensure the thorough analysis of the transparency reports and risk self-assessment submitted by the designated companies, and to carry out inspections to their systems whenever required by the Commission.
This mission could not be attained without proper research and foresight capacity, which are also inherent to ECAT’s approach. JRC researchers will build on and further advance their longstanding expertise in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has already been instrumental in the preparation of other milestone pieces of regulation like the AI Act, the Coordinated Plan on AI and its 2021 review. ECAT researchers will not only focus on identifying and addressing systemic risks stemming from Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines, but also investigate the long-term societal impact of algorithms.
Scientists and experts working at the ECAT will cooperate with industry representatives, academia, and civil society organisations to improve our understanding of how algorithms work; they will analyse transparency, assess risks, and propose new transparent approaches and best practices.
As Stephen Quest, Director-General of the JRC, has said, “algorithms are being used in various domains of our lives, from social media & e-commerce to healthcare & justice systems. It is essential to ensure that these algorithms are transparent, accountable, and ethical”.
LifeWatch ERIC was represented at the inauguration by its Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda. Alongside the JRC, LifeWatch ERIC is also part of the #eCitySevilla project, an initiative to develop an open, digital, decarbonised and sustainable city model ecosystem on Seville’s Isla de la Cartuja by 2025.
With this link you can access the full recording of the act, in which numerous experts and authorities presented.
LifeWatch ERIC contributed to the international ‘SOURCES’ workshop, in which more than 40 researchers from countries such as France, Germany, Canada, the United States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Denmark and Spain took part in Seville. Its objective was to integrate historical sources for long-term ecological knowledge and biodiversity conservation, part of WP3 of the SUMHAL Project, promoted by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and LifeWatch ERIC, and it is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). SUMHAL’s aim is to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in natural or semi-natural systems of the western Mediterranean, based on high-tech infrastructures, and collaboration between highly specialised research personnel and the public.
Understanding the state of ecosystem and biodiversity distribution patterns in the past is crucial to understanding the complex relationships between human societies and environmental change and guiding natural resource management However, the information needed to generate this knowledge is scarce and often unavailable for researchers. It is often contained in a diverse array of historical sources (frequently ignored by environmental sciences) and equally diverse natural archives (e.g., archaeological or palynological records). SOURCES brought together a diverse group of scientists to identify sources of ecologically relevant historical information and explore the pathways to mine, standardise, mobilise and share this information.
The SOURCES workshop was coordinated by Miguel Clavero and Laetitia María Navarro, researchers from the Doñana Biological Station (CSIC). Among the varied and complementary presentations, there were: ‘Historical ecology through the eyes of a historian’, by Péter Szabo (Czech Academy of Sciences); ‘Historical ecology in cultural landscapes: highlights, challenges, new ideas’, by Chelsey Geralda Armstrong (Simon Fraser University, Canada); ‘Land use histories and their implications for conservation action’, by Catalina Munteanu (Humboldt University, Germany); ‘Changes in floral biodiversity over the last two thousand years’, by Adam Spitzig (Harvard University, USA); ‘The human niche and the rise of capitalism: applying Bayesian machine learning to causality modelling in historical social-ecological systems’, by Adam Izdebski (Max-Planck-Institut für Geoanthropologie, Germany); ‘Trophic rewilding restoration- insights from macro‐ and paleoecology’, by Jens-Christian Svenning (Aarhus University, Denmark); ‘How Early Modern paintings inform about historical aquatic biodiversity’, by Anne-Sophie Tribot & Thomas Changeux (Aix-Marseille University, France), among others.
At the Casa de la Ciencia, the CSIC’s institutional building in Andalusia, LifeWatch ERIC took part in the SOURCES workshop with the presentation ‘Organisational knowledge management for ecology heritage preservation based on innovative open science and e-biodiversity technologies’, by Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO. He raised the integrated assessment of cultural ecosystem services to preserve Cultural and Ecological Heritage and explained the steps to follow to identify cultural ecosystem services, then federate resources (combine several approaches: ecological, archaeological, historical, cultural, economic, etc.), generate data FAIRness (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable), establish models and indicators to inform decision making.
On 31 March 2023, in the Huelvan municipality of La Palma del Condado, known for its agricultural and wine-growing activity, the office of the International Centre for Development and Innovation in Agroecology and Agrobiodiversity (CIDIA) was inaugurated. CIDIA aims to become an internationally-relevant cutting-edge centre in the innovation and development of sustainable agricultural practices, in line with the EU Green Deal, the Farm to Fork strategy, the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the new EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
CIDIA’s general objective is the development of studies, tools and demonstrative experiences that foster the transition towards specific agroecological practices with special emphasis on protected areas and areas that allow for the balancing of socio-economic development with the objectives of environmental conservation and European policies. Agroecology researchers from LifeWatch ERIC will work together with researchers from the Agroecosystems History Laboratory at the Pablo de Olavide University, in Seville.
LifeWatch ERIC is promoting CIDIA within the SmartFood initiative, which is one of the ongoing ERDF projects in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development of the Junta de Andalucía, through Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency of Andalusia (AGAPA). The subtitle of SmartFood is “biodiversity, ecosystem services and digitisation axes of agricultural, forestry and fishing activity in Andalusia”. Its objective is to make technological monitoring infrastructures available to the sector to carry out innovative monitoring of the effects they have on the environment the different practices of exploitation of natural resources, and the generation of new knowledge for the sustainable management of the ecosystems involved.
At the inauguration, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, thanked the regional and local authorities for their collaboration, as well as the involvement of the Universities of Huelva and Pablo de Olavide, in making the start-up a reality. He stressed that the initiative “puts advanced technologies and knowledge at the service of farmers and ranchers, which must be accessible to all citizens”.
-Developing the evaluation methodologies and the latest-generation ICT tools necessary for ecological evaluation, including the socioeconomic valuation of agro-ecosystem services based on the developments carried out in SmartFood and applying cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain (LifeBlock);
-Defining good sustainable agricultural practices adapted to the selected experimental sites as well as those designed for monitoring and evaluation of their results through the use of ICT;
-Developing demonstrative experiences in the Doñana environment that allow for the balancing of agriculture development with conservation objectives, oriented to the problem of water overexploitation;
-Developing standards and procedures for optimised land use and farm management in association with habitats and species of special conservation in protected areas and the eco-scheme certification methodology of the EU CAP.
The inauguration was headed by Juan Miguel González Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO; José Carlos Álvarez Martín, Managing Director of AGAPA, and Manuel García Félix, Mayor of La Palma del Condado. Together with them were Bella Verano Domínguez, Delegate of the Junta de Andalucía in Huelva; José Enrique García Ramos, Director of Research at the University of Huelva; Antonia Jiménez Rodríguez, Vice Chancellor for Research, Transfer and Doctorates at Pablo de Olavide University; Manuel Jiménez Sánchez, General Director of Research at Pablo de Olavide University; Manuel González de Molina, Professor at the Pablo de Olavide University, where he directs the Agroecosystems History Laboratory; José Manuel Ávila, LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Coordinator, and Rocío Moreno Domínguez, LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core Federtech ERDF Project Executive Coordinator.
Roll up, roll up! LifeWatch followers and collaborators are cordially invited to the grand unveiling of the LifeWatch Community platform, now openly available to everyone! Who should become a member? Well, if you’re interested in biodiversity and ecosystem research, then you should!
The content of the Community platform will be widely shaped by its members, allowing them to create and contribute to forums, add opportunities, jobs and events of interest to the community, and hold meetings and collaborative brainstorming together with other members. These features are particularly well-suited to the needs of partners involved in European projects focused on biodiversity, who can benefit from the working groups as the perfect collaborative space.
Once a member of the Community, you can select your skills from a preset list, in order to facilitate linkages among the community. In need of a collaborator with a specific specialisation? Whether the keywords are data sciences, environmental sciences or biotechnology, simply carry out a search for the skills you are looking for to identify potential matches.
The platform is also a great space to learn about upcoming events. Of immediate relevance to the community is the upcoming LifeWatch ERIC Biodiversity and Ecosystem eScience Conference in Seville, for which interested persons can already submit their abstract on the Community platform.
While many aspects of the platform can be browsed without registering, we recommend opening an account in order to benefit from the full range of resources available. Sign up now to enhance the community experience for everyone, put your range of abilities and knowledge at everyone’s disposal, in a mutual and sincere effort to foster open science.
If you require any assistance with any of the registration process or functionalities of the Community, please do not hesitate to get in touch with communications[@]lifewatch.eu.
The Port Authority of the Bay of Cádiz has kickstarted its blue innovation strategy with the Conference ‘Innovation at the service of port competitiveness’, featuring the participation of local, national and international agents in the field of innovation, research and entrepreneurship. Among these were LifeWatch ERIC, Puertos del Estado (Spanish government), the University of Cádiz, Telefónica, Archangelus Systems and Total Maritime Solutions.
President of the Port Authority, Teófila Martínez, who in turn chairs the RETE Association for Collaboration Between Ports and Cities, explained “the need to intensify innovation efforts in order to assume and assimilate the technological revolution and the impact it has on ports. Our goal is to create a culture of innovation and take a proactive role in promoting sustainable development which involves everyone”. José Llorca, responsible for Innovation at Puertos del Estado and the government’s Ports 4.0 Fund, then highlighted the role of the LifeWatch ERIC digital infrastructure as a promoter of change.
LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, explained how LifeBlock technology, developed by the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core, can help integrate biodiversity protection into port development. One way is through ‘smart contracts’ for the port authority to manage the use of natural resources and guarantee compliance with environmental regulations. For example, for the discharge of wastewater, or regulating the use of goods transit areas, or blue carbon tokenisation, or sustainable fishing and smart market management. To this end, all the stakeholders in the port ecosystem would be involved, to generate trust and promote participatory governance in decisions.
Another path that LifeWatch ERIC proposes is the development of a digital twin for environmental impact and monitoring of the marine or coastal ecosystems affected by port activity, in synergy with similar initiatives in Europe such as the BioDT project, in which LifeWatch ERIC is co-responsible for international deployment by creating IaaS, PaaS and SaaS models, through the provision of user-friendly interfaces.
For the Port in the Bay of Cádiz, the following key actions have been identified in order to monitor and control the spread of invasive alien species; the protection of seabed and reef habitats, to help assess environmental quality and ecosystem services in ports, including an ecological assessment of operations such as dredging, and the validation of preventive and corrective mechanisms to improve the quality of water bodies.
LifeWatch ERIC offers its collaboration for the port’s blue innovation through financial instruments with which it is working, such as within the Horizon Europe programme’s Climate, Energy and Mobility Cluster, on ‘Climate resilient and safe maritime ports’; or the ‘Demonstration of DC powered data centres, buildings, industries and ports’. Within the Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Cluster is the ‘Demonstration of marine and coastal infrastructures as hybrid blue-grey Nature-based Solutions’, and ‘Invasive alien species’. Finally, within Missions – Adaptation to Climate Change, is ‘Testing and demonstrating transformative solutions to protect critical infrastructure from climate change, mainstreaming nature-based solutions’.
LifeWatch ERIC has contributed to the scientific debate on defining the conditions in which hunting can play a potentially positive role in biodiversity conservation, by presenting models of innovative and sustainable management of natural capital. In certain conditions, hunting could be used as a conservation measure, when a lack of natural predators drives populations of protected species to numerical overgrowth and the severe overexploitation of their trophic resources; this is what was argued at the 10th edition of the International Hunting Fair (FICAR), a biannual event, which took place in Rosal de la Frontera in the province of Huelva. In parallel, through the IBERLifeWatch initiative, LifeWatch ERIC promoted progress in Iberian biodiversity cooperation, as a community of good practices in science, technology and innovation, with the involvement of important stakeholders of the Alentejo-Algarve-Andalusia Euroregion.
LifeWatch ERIC collaborates with the Mértola Biological Station (Portugal), which in turn collaborates with the IREC Institute for Research on Hunting Resources of the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), forming an Iberian triangle that focuses on the scientific, innovation and sustainability factors of resources for the sustainable socioeconomic growth of small municipalities in this type of region, in synergy with the 2030 SDGs and the EU Green Deal.
As documented in publications by Jorge Cassinello Roldán, CSIC senior scientist and IREC director, who has a PhD in Biological Sciences specialising in the study of ecology and animal behaviour; new scientific knowledge helps manage hunting activity in a way that is more in line with the defence of the environment, and promotes the use of natural resources in a sustainable manner, ensuring its continuity for future generations.
One of the main activities in which LifeWatch ERIC was involved at FICAR was the session entitled ‘Innovative and sustainable management of natural capital: Hunting as an ally of conservation’. Moderated by Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, the following speakers presented: Paulo C. Alves, director of the Mértola Biological Station, who presented the paper ‘Cross-border cooperation in conservation’; Vicente Jurado Doña, Professor of Ecology at the University of Seville, with a presentation entitled ‘Dehesa y seca de la encina‘; Javier Castroviejo Bolívar, former director of the Doñana Biological Station, whose presentation was ‘Hunting as an ally of conservation’; José María Liñán Cruz, professional hunter, with the theme ‘Man as administrator of nature’, and Diego de los Santos Parejo, LifeWatch ERIC researcher, with the presentation ‘Hunting and conservation of the Iberian lynx, the story of a miracle’.
In his speech, Professor Paulo C. Alves gave examples of the role of hunting in controlling the rabbit population in the Iberian Peninsula, with cases of good Iberian cooperation practices for the conservation of rabbit populations using their censuses and hunting in a sustainable way, a field in which the Mértola Biological Station is a research centre of reference.
LifeWatch ERIC also participated in the inauguration of FICAR, chaired by Loles López, Councillor for Social Inclusion, Youth, Families and Equality of the Junta de Andalucía. And at the LifeWatch ERIC stand, meetings were held with her and other authorities and representatives of various social sectors and territorial areas, such as José Enrique Borrallo Romero, General Director of Protected Natural Spaces of the Junta de Andalucía; Duarte Lobo, President of the Portuguese Confederation of Micro-SMEs, Small and Medium Enterprises (CPPME), and Antonio Carlos Vázquez, Mayor of Rosal de la Frontera.