Biodiversity Day 2022: Gender equality is essential to accelerate progress towards biodiversity

Biodiversity Day

Gender (SDG 5) is a game-changer to accelerate progress towards achieving biodiversity objectives.[1]

The stakes are high, and it is therefore critical to ensure that women also have the opportunity to contribute to supporting biodiversity goals. In many parts of the world, specific daily roles for women and men mean that they have specialised knowledge in different areas of biodiversity, and also different priorities. This means both women and men have a lot to contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem management. 

However, women’s perspectives are often not taken into account, even though they are often more vulnerable than men to the ecological crises that arise from issues such as biodiversity loss, and in some cases and have reproductive, productive and community roles to play in society. Such “gender gaps” are therefore also important entry points for women’s empowerment, where women are supported to overcome gender gaps and fulfil their potential – including in decision-making, to promote biodiversity.

Gender inequality coupled with the climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It poses threats to ways of life, livelihoods, health, safety and security for all around the world.

At the European level, LifeWatch ERIC is building a Gender Equality Plan that ensures that women are not only included as part of programmes, policies, research and management teams, but that we endeavour to ensure that all research projects funded by the European Commission are monitored to ensure inclusion of the perspective of men and women and the different gendered impacts that any situation has on the environment and on people’s lives and wellbeing.

We believe that without inclusion and equality, sustainability of the planet is not possible.

May we have the wisdom to work together and reflect on these important issues during World Biodiversity Day 2022.

Africa G Zanella Gender Consultant LifeWatch ERIC and Civil Society Observer and Gender Initiatives Focal Point for Climate Investment Fund @World Bank.


[1] “Addressing Gender Issues and Actions in Biodiversity Objectives” by the Convention on Biological Diversity.

ZEEKERWETEN, the citizen science festival on the Belgian coastline

Zeekerweten citizen science

Citizen science can play a major role in data collection and processing. LifeWatch Belgium always champions greater collaboration between scientists and citizens because it enhances research and strengthens support among the wider public. The LifeWatch VLIZ initiatives ‘SeaWatch-B’ and the annual ‘Big Seashell Survey’ are good examples of this invaluable citizen-scientists cross-fertilisation. In order to give people a taste of this kind of initiative, on Sunday 8 May 2022, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) organised, with many other partners, the first citizen science festival on the Belgian coastline: ZEEKERWETEN (which translates as “knowing for sure/shore”).

Under the watchful eye of experts, citizens learned tricks and tools to make the invisible life visible, at sea, on the beach, in the dunes, and elsewhere along the coast. In doing so, they got the chance to become real citizen scientists.

Staff from LifeWatch Flanders, INBO and VLIZ involved visitors to their stands in hands-on activities regarding plankton and applied artificial intelligence techniques, differentiating alien shell species from native specimens, tracking seagulls, setting up a camera trap, and recognising and reporting on that most invasive of alien species, the Asian hornet.

The open-air event turned out to be fun and fascinating, for young and old, and helped increase scientific knowledge. With more than 90 experts and volunteers involved, nearly 1,200 citizens were brought closer to science, and went home better able to appreciate what fantastic treasures of biodiversity the coastline holds.

The ZEEKERWETEN citizen science festival was an initiative of LifeWatch Belgium.

LifeWatch ERIC to Collaborate in New Observatory in the Mar Menor

Observatory in the Mar Menor

Three members of the LifeWatch ERIC Executive Board, alongside collaborator Professor Angel Pérez-Ruzafa, attended the Life Transfer Summit in Murcia today, to mark the opening of an observatory in the Mar Menor, an initiative in which the research infrastructure will actively collaborate. CEO Dr Christos Arvanitidis, CTO Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda, Service Centre Director Professor Alberto Basset and Professor Ruzafa all made presentations at the meeting, which was attended by Mr Antonio Luengo, Environmental Minister of the Murcia region, to bring his support of the infrastructure on the occasion.

The Life Transfer project, Seagrass Transplantation for Transitional Ecosystem Recovery, aims to trigger the process of recolonisation of aquatic phanerogams –known as “ecosystem engineers”– in selected Mediterranean lagoons. These lagoons are all part of Natura 2000 sites in Spain, Italy and Greece, and the project is funded through the Life programme. You can read more about the project and its initial results here.

CTO Live on ‘Despierta Andalucía’ to Speak on Ecological Crises

Despierta Andalucía

This morning, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, went live on Andalusian TV to discuss the ecological crises we are facing and to explain the role, the structure, and the ambition of the research infrastructure. He spoke on the programme ‘Despierta Andalucía’ of Canal Sur, noting that the region home to the LifeWatch ERIC Statutory Seat and ICT-Core is known for its excellence in the fields of open software and sustainability research.

During his interview, Dr González-Aranda explained how LifeWatch ERIC makes use of vast amounts of data and cutting-edge technology, such as remote sensing, to monitor and predict changes in the climate and ecosystems, crucial knowledge that can be shared with policymakers and used to develop solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. He also pointed out the key relationships that the infrastructure holds with various regions all over the world –not just in Europe, but also in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America– which allows for international collaboration in generating and interpreting data, and for the infrastructure to fulfill its ethos of “acting locally, thinking globally”.

LifeWatch ERIC would like to thank Despierta Andalucía, Canal Sur and RTVA for dedicating broadcasting time to shining a light on the current ecological crises, and for raising awareness of European initiatives like LifeWatch ERIC, which offers its free resources and services to researchers and citizen scientists globally.

Click here to watch the full interview, starting at 1:11:07.

Gender Equity Consultant Africa Zanella appointed to the Climate Investment Fund

Climate Investment Fund

On behalf of the infrastructure, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, would like to congratulate Gender Equity Consultant, Africa Zanella, for her appointment as Gender Initiatives Focal Point for the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) at the World Bank.

“This is not only a fantastic achievement for Africa, but also an important honour for LifeWatch ERIC as an organisation,” said the CEO – “This is a crucial role at the Climate Investment Fund, with great responsibility – one that we know she is well-equipped to carry out, not only due to her specialisation in social science and her experience in themes of sustainable development and green growth, but also because of her fervent activism for the empowerment of women across the globe.”

Africa Zanella has called for ‘the role of women in combating climate change’ to be a key topic of discussion at the COP27 in Egypt, as it is thought that women, particularly in developing regions, remain an untapped resource for practical solutions to climate mitigation and adaptation. LifeWatch ERIC is confident that in her new position at the CIF, she will be able to ensure that operational decisions take into account the profound interconnectedness of climate change mitigation, biodiversity preservation and gender equality. As she said just a few days after her appointment at the infrastructure: “sustainability depends on women having an equal role”.

Rolling Out Season 2 of the LifeWatch ERIC Podcast “A Window on Science”

LifeWatch ERIC Podcast

While the first LifeWatch ERIC podcast season focused on the Internal Joint Initiative, the construction of that Virtual Research Environment, this second season draws on the experiences of the scientists and ICT specialists involved in the five validation cases used to develop said Virtual Research Environment. Five investigations into the impact of Non-indigenous and Invasive Species on a range of environments suffering from climate change and anthropogenic pressures.

Over the next three months, therefore, you will hear from the terrestrial and marine researchers, ICT technicians and software engineers, molecular geneticists and data managers who worked together in trans-disciplinary teams to construct and test five workflows – pipelines of data sourcing and processing – to make that research possible at scales never achieved before. The LifeWatch ERIC podcast season 2 “A Window on Science” features:

  • Wednesday 11 May: The Atlantic Blue Crab
  • Wednesday 25 May: ARMS. Hard-bottom communities
  • Wednesday 8 June: Metabarcoding
  • Wednesday 22 June: Ailanthus, and
  • Wednesday 6 July: Biotope.

Don’t forget that these LifeWatch ERIC podcasts, as well as being embedded in our website portal (find all of Season 1 here and the live episodes of Season 2 here), are also available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

Wrapping up the first year with a BiCIKL ride in Seville

BiCIKL Seville Meeting

One year after the debut of the BiCIKL Project, partners and research infrastructures will meet all together in person for the first time. A three-day of presentation of the tasks completed, bilateral meetings and technical forums will take place in Seville (Spain) between 2 – 4 May 2022.

We are all thrilled about this convention,” Project Coordinator Prof Lyubomir Penev comments. “It is going to be a huge step forward and an important moment for planning the activities to come.”

During the meeting, which will be held at La Casa de la Ciencia, Seville, LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF will be presenting The Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH), a structure at the core of the BiCIKL Project.

We can’t reveal much before the meeting,” – says Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, “but BKH will be a single knowledge portal that helps researchers access and use interlinked and machine-readable FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) relying on unique stable identifiers on specimens, genomics, observations, taxonomy and data in publications.”

There will be much more in the Andalusian venue: technical discussions will take place on linking between data classes, for instance, and the event will be wrapped up with a Forum on the BKH and the Fair Data Place.

Follow the project on Twitter for continuous updates with the hashtag #BiCIKL_H2020

ENVRI Community International Summer School is back in person!

ISS2022_news

We are delighted to announce the 2022 edition of the ENVRI Community International Summer School. And this summer, we are back in person! 

The Summer School, now at its fifth edition, is organised by ENVRI-FAIR and LifeWatch ERIC and will take place in Lecce, Italy, from 10–15 July. This edition’s title is “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users”, and it will cover topics such as user interfaces, packaging of services, reusability and validation of services, and building and supporting networks through the lens of the ENVRI-Hub approach. 

This School is therefore mainly aimed at IT architects, Research Infrastructure (RI) service developers and user support staff, and RI staff working on user interaction and community/network building.

The Summer School will welcome participants on the afternoon of Sunday 10 July with an opening event, while the actual School programme will last from Monday to Friday afternoon, closing with a certificate ceremony. Two online webinars are also planned to take place in the third and fourth week of June on specific use cases, in preparation for the School or to attend as stand-alone sessions.

The outline of the School programme is as follows:

  1. Introducing the ENVRI-Hub (concept and architecture)
  2. Learning to know your end users and their expectations: requirements elicitation
  3. Create high quality documentation and usage examples to support service end users
  4. Developing Services and Fostering Reusability/Interoperability among them
  5. Validating and evaluating your services
  6. Participants’ Presentations, School Evaluation and Certificates

Successful applicants to “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users” will be offered full board in the beautiful baroque city of Lecce in Southern Italy, and will be invited to “extracurricular” activities such as restaurant dinners and excursions in the surrounding area. 

Interested persons are invited to apply by 30 May by filling in the sign-up form here. Follow LifeWatch ERIC and ENVRI Community updates!

You can access the dedicated minisite with more detailed information on the School here.

IFAPA Visit LifeWatch ERIC

IFAPA

On Tuesday 19 April 2022, LifeWatch ERIC had the honour of receiving Lourdes Fuster Martínez, President of the Andalusian Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries, Food and Organic Production Research and Training (IFAPA) at the LifeWatch ERIC facilities in Seville, in the Italian Pavilion in La Cartuja.

LifeWatch ERIC is carrying out a series of strategic collaborations with IFAPA, within the framework of agrobiodiversity, agroecology and fisheries, with a strong European and international impact.

ALL-Ready Pilot Network on Living Labs and Research Infrastructures for Agroecology

ALL-Ready Pilot Network

On 11 April 2022, as part of the preparatory work for the EU Partnership on Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures (ALL-Ready), LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology Officer, José Manuel Ávila-Castuera, participated in a meeting with several German ministries such as the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and funding agencies such as BLE and Project Management Jülich (JÜLICH), to demonstrate how Research Infrastructures (RIs) are a key instrument to in the transition towards agroecology.

The European Commission has proposed a new initiative provisionally entitled “Accelerating farming systems transition: agroecology living labs and research infrastructures” as one of the candidate European Partnerships in food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment, under Horizon Europe’s new approach. These partnerships aim to deliver on global challenges and industrial modernisation through concerted research and innovation efforts, alongside EU and associated countries, the private sector, foundations and other stakeholders.

During the meeting, Korinna Varga (Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) presented the Pilot Network developed in ALL-READY and the Living Labs. ALL-Ready is a H2020 Coordination and Support Action (CSA), funded by the European Commission, that aims to prepare a framework for a future European network of Living Labs and RIs 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.