Institutional interest in LifeWatch ERIC at Transfiere 2021

Institutional interest in LifeWatch ERIC: New collaborative partnerships sealed with handshakes at Transfiere 2021

Transfiere 2021, from 14–15 April in Málaga, Spain was all about sharing scientific, technological and innovation knowledge to promote innovation and connect science and business. The perfect forum, in fact for LifeWatch ERIC to show its prowess and competitiveness. LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda jointly with staffers from the Common Facility in Spain and the LifeWatch Spain Node welcomed at the LifeWatch ERIC booth a number of visits from representatives of local, regional, national and international governments, universities, and other research centres.

On Wednesday, 14 April, Enrique Playán-Jubilar, Director of the Spanish State Research Agency-Ministry of Science and Innovation, and Teresa Serrano-Gotarredona, Directorate General of Research & Knowledge Transfer – Regional Government of Andalusia-Junta de Andalusia visited our booth. Thursday, 15 April was the turn of Elías Bendodo Benasayag, Minister of the Presidency of the Junta de Andalucía, Francisco de la Torre Mayor of Málaga, and Jesús Alonso Sánchez Secretary General of Science, Technology & Innovation at the Regional Government-Junta de Extremadura.  These high-ranking officials showed strong support and reaffirmed their commitment to the projects and initiatives on display and took a great interest in LifeWatch ERIC.  

We were also honoured by the visit of other public administration representatives and decision makers in the field of sustainable ecosystems management and services, including: Raúl Jiménez Jiménez, recently appointed as Managing Director of the Andalusian Digitalisation Agency, a long-time supporter of LifeWatch ERIC through the Smart Food ERDF Andalusia project; Inmaculada Aguilar Nacher, DG of the Spanish Science and Technology Foundation-FECYT, accompanied by Borja Izquierdo, International Science Department Director at FECYT; Daniel Escacena Ortega, Director of Projects in the Andalusia Knowledge Agency-Junta de Andalusia; the Rectors of the Pablo de Olavide and Málaga Universities, Francisco Oliva Blázquez and José Ángel Narváez Bueno, respectively; and Fernando Ferrero Álvarez-Rementería, Director for Strategic Investments at IDEA-Junta de Andalusia, among others

This level of interest at such an intense forward-looking forum is a great tribute to, and recognition of, the role LifeWatch ERIC can play in contributing to new EU Green Deal-based and circular socioeconomics models. New collaborative initiatives were also forged with South Africa and Bulgaria. 

New collaborations with Bulgaria and South Africa

As part of LifeWatch ERIC’s highly successful involvement in Transfiere 2021 in Málaga on Thursday 15 April 15 2021, two international bilateral meetings were chaired by Chief Technology Officer and Director of the Common Facility in Spain, Juan Miguel González-Aranda. 

The first involved the Deputy Minister of Education and Science from the Government of Bulgaria, Karina Angelieva, while the second was a meeting with the Deputy Director General of International Cooperation and Resources of the government of South Africa, Daan du Toit, accompanied by Vinny Pillay, Senior Science & Technology Representative to the EU, from the South African Department of Science & Innovation. 

Both of these important meetings counted on the involvement of representatives from the Region of Andalusia Government-Junta de Andalusia, first among whom was the Director General for Research and Knowledge Transfer of the Junta de Andalucía, Teresa Serrano Gotarredona.

The discussions were broad-ranging and positive, looking at future collaboration projects between the countries involved. Of particular interest for Bulgaria were relationships around Agroecology and the Marine domain; whereas joint actions aimed at EU-African Union cooperation on the Green Deal and Energy Transition were explored with South Africa.

Space and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030


LifeWatch ERIC was represented on Friday 10 October, 2020, at another international online workshop by Chief Technology Officer Dr Juan Miguel González-Aranda. Entitled Space and SDG 2030, and organised by Science Digital @ UNGA 75, the forum discussed how to frame the contribution of space technologies to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and featured contributions from Ireland, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Nicaragua, and the UN.
Dr González-Aranda’s presentation at UNGA 75 started from the premise that human well-being depends on healthy ecosystems and that LifeWatch ERIC’s work, in assessing and monitoring ecosystem functions to understand the underlying ecological processes of biodiversity, is critical to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Using Tesseract VRE, the product-framework being deployed to build large-scale virtual research environments, and LifeBlock, the blockchain technology to guarantee the provenance and persistence of evidence, LifeWatch ERIC is using remote sensing information from space to providing science-based management frameworks, tools and mechanisms.  
Working with other Research Institutes, and offering expertise on cross-border initiatives, as in EU-LAC and EU-AFRICA, LifeWatch ERIC is applying Artificial Intelligence and Big Data services to enable faster and more accurate detection and identification of species. This helps the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs -UNOOSA-, for example, to link space and wildlife communities and understand what is going on. By assisting international agencies and building citizen awareness, these operations contribute critically to preserving the planet.

WCMB 2020 Virtual Conference

WCMB 2020

The World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2020, Sunday 13-Wednesday 16 December 2020, will be fully virtual because of uncertainties in participants’ ability to travel to Auckland. To accommodate an expected increase in participants, the deadline for submission of abstracts for e-posters has been extended to 1 October.

The conference programme will be designed to accommodate varying timezones. It will enable all participants to view all talks and posters, even those in parallel sessions, at a time of their choosing. All materials, abstracts, programme, posters, talks, keynote presentations, and ‘breakout rooms’ for live discussion between participants, will be organised through one website. Side events to encourage live interactions between participants will be organised.

Conference fees for WCMB 2020 have been greatly reduced, earlybird prices apply up to 1 November, and sponsorship has been obtained to cover over 100 participants from Developing Countries. Virtual registration includes:

• Access to the virtual platform and all sessions during the conference 

• Access to recorded session content for up to three weeks after the conference has ended

• Access to view e-posters and chat with e-poster presenters

• Access to the Meeting Hub to connect with other virtual attendees. 

WCMB 2020 welcomes presentations on all aspects of marine biodiversity, both fundamental and applied sciences. The year 2020 is significant in being a deadline for both Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Targets and UN Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 14 on the oceans, and is a starting point for 2030 goals and the UN Decade of the Oceans. Thus, contributors are asked to link their talks and posters to these events where possible. The focus will be to prioritise contributions that are of general appeal and wide interest and, to minimise the number of parallel sessions and maximise inclusivity, participants can expect to be restricted to one presentation per speaker.

LifeWatch ERIC in Support of SDGs

On Monday 28 September 2020, LifeWatch ERIC held centre stage at Science Digital @ UNGA 75, an online event organised under the mission of Mr Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, Special Adviser to the Secretary General to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations and to explore issues regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN in 2015. Chaired by Enrique Alonso-García, Permanent Counsellor of State for Spain, the two-hour virtual workshop featured six presentations, plus discussion time. 

The session sought to explore and highlight how LifeWatch ERIC can contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The opening by Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Executive Officer, immediately set the tone of the discussion, presenting the e-Science Infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research, its mission and commitment to support the accomplishment of SDGs, Green Deal & Union Energy objectives, but also putting the focus clearly on the cultural challenge ahead: to engage all the scientific communities of practice to move away from a single-core (SCBs) operation, or ‘brain-etics’, to high performance brain network synthesis (HPBNs,) or ‘brain-omics’.

These views were reflected throughout the programme, which incorporated many different disciplinary approaches. A snapshot of the key research topics in the biodiversity and ecosystem domain – with special references to SDG 2030 and monitoring climate, biodiversity and ecosystem changes, through quantifying the EBVs – moved on to the challenges posed by the regulatory framework for biodiversity and ecosystem and the importance of legal compliance – in particular in relation to composing the data policy puzzle – and finally focused on international cooperation for research infrastructures, the involvement of stakeholders and on a socio-economic approach, centring around the bioeconomy and circular economy paradigms. Cooperation proved to be a key word of the LifeWatch ERIC session, emerging again in the discussion in relation to a new age of e-Research collaboration, consisting of Biodiversity Information, Open Science Data, Community Commitment and Spreading Knowledge, on topics that challenge society.

The session was brought to a close by LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, who presented a conceptual framework on e-Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services ICT to support the accomplishment of SGD 2030, and LifeWatch ERIC key technology tools (e.g. data catalogues, EcoPortal, the LifeBlock (-chain) platform). In his framework, LifeWatch ERIC Tesseract Virtual Research Environment (VRE) deserves a special mention as a true example of co-design, co-development and co-deployment of an inter- and multi- disciplinary working team composed of nearby 80 scientists and e-Biodiversity bioinformaticians, all in the interest of addressing transgenerational Climate Change adaptation & mitigation challenges.”.

The session was very interactive, participants added to the discussion of these points and introduced other important issues including Gender & Equity. “With a particular mention for the LifeWatch ERIC ICT team who organised and ran the session, we’d like to thank everyone involved today for a wide-ranging and very productive discussion”, said the rapporteurs, Christos Arvanitidis and Juan Miguel González-Aranda in conclusion.


• “LifeWatch ERIC in a nutshell. Towards a new Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research HPBNs & brain-omics approach, and how RIs can assist accomplishment of the SDG 2030 targets“Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO. 

• “Trending topics on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Scientific Research“Alberto Basset, LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director. 

• “A global legal perspective/approach on/to Biodiversity & Ecosystems regulatory frameworks for SDG 2030 accomplishment“Enrique Alonso-García, Permanent Counselor of State at the Spanish Council of State Sections on Environmental, Rural & Marine Affaires and Science & Innovation. 

 • “Involving the socio-economics sectors: The perspective from Decision Makers, Companies & Innovators. Vision from EU-LAC stakeholders“Federico Torres-Carballo, Vice-Minister at Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications of Costa Rica, and Fernando Amestoy-Rosso, President Latin American Division International Association of Science Parks & Areas of Innovation –IASP–, Chair of EU-LAC Research Infrastructures SOM, Pando Technological Pole Director-Uruguay. 

• “Towards a new open science data vision of Biodiversity Informatics at global scale (GBIF, OBIS, RDA, …)” Arturo H. Ariño-Plana, University of Navarra  

• “An innovative conceptual framework on e-Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services ICT to support the accomplishment of SGD 2030“Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO & ERIC FORUM Executive Board member.

LifeWatch ERIC 2019 Activities Report

2019 Activities Report

The publication of the LifeWatch ERIC 2019 Activities Report, today, 15 July 2020, marks a mighty milestone. The 36-page document is a record of LifeWatch ERIC’s operations and accomplishments, clarifies what we do and why, and lends greater visibility to our position in the European and global landscape of Research Infrastructures, an invaluable reference on the organisation’s mission and vision, its staff and achievements, financial performance and governance.

Whist chronicling the establishment of LifeWatch as a fully functional ERIC, the report already looks at the future, as Gert Verreet, Chair of the LifeWatch ERIC General Assembly, says in his foreword: “We are living in interesting times and, surely, the research goalposts are moving. LifeWatch ERIC, the e-Science Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, helps those who want to meet these challenges”.  

LifeWatch CEO Christos Arvanitidis reinforces that positivity: “We’ve certainly come a long way from our establishment as an ERIC in 2017, but the excitement of meeting our challenges is just beginning. We’ve put our ICT team and biodiversity experts together, and they are building the next generation of Virtual Research Environment”.

Giving thanks to staff, acknowledging the support of institutions and representing entities, the 2019 Activities Report demonstrates the alignment that has been created between Common Facilities and Distributed Centres.

High Definition 2019 Activities Report: download.

Light Version 2019 Activities Report: download.

The hard-copy will be printed on 100% recycled paper.

EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

EU Biodiversity Strategy

LifeWatch ERIC CEO Christos Arvanitidis has welcomed the release today, 20 May 2020, of the ‘European Biodiversity Strategy for 2030′, a blueprint that sets out targeted actions to preserve and restore European ecosystems in recognition that humanity’s relationship with nature is much in need of repair. 

Recognising that climate change, unprecedented decreases in wild species populations and the recent pandemic are the result of unsustainable human activity, the strategy will dedicate €20 billion to restoring degraded ecosystems, increasing protected forest and wetland areas, and creating green spaces in cities to achieve the climate change mitigation that is needed by 2030.

The strategy will support recovery in a post-pandemic world by restoring biodiversity for the benefit of people, climate and the planet, on the basis that nature not only provides the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe, but accounts for over half of global Gross Domestic Product. It is central, in fact, to the European Green Deal for sustainable prosperity.

Specific targets include establishing protected areas for 30 percent of land and sea in Europe; restoring degraded ecosystems, increasing organic farming and biodiversity-rich landscape on agricultural soils, halting and reversing the decline of pollinators, reducing the risk and use of pesticides by 50 percent, restoring at least 25,000 km of EU rivers to a free-flowing state, and planting three billion trees by 2030.  

“It is essential to reverse the decline of the biodiversity that is essential for life,” said Dr Arvanitidis. “It is clear that biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and the climate crisis are organically connected and this is where LifeWatch ERIC can play a pivotal role in supplying evidence-based synthetic knowledge and nature-based solutions to societal challenges, not only for decision-makers in government, but also to ordinary citizens. To achieve this goal, LifeWatch ERIC offers facilities, open data, web services for reproducible analytics and a vast network of scientists all over Europe. We all have our part to play in turning this around”.

All these points are of a key importance also in economic terms, as biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation have clear economic and social costs cost. More than half of global GDP – about €40 trillion – depends on nature, and its restoration is part of the EU’s recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic. New opportunities for business and growth will arise in sectors like construction, agriculture and food and drink, which could produce, according to the European Commission’s estimation, up to 500,000 jobs. 

The new biodiversity strategy will make the EU a true leader in addressing the global biodiversity crisis, and in global negotiations at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China, in October 2020.