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European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)

Highlights from the EMODnet Open Conference and Jamboree 2023

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EMODnet Open Conference 2023 (©Serena Vittorini)

On 27-30 November over 340 partners, associated partners, and stakeholders of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) gathered in Brussels for the third EMODnet Open Conference and Jamboree. The week kicked off with a Partner Jamboree with the >120 partners exchanging on their latest service developments and joint activities. The Open Conference was a public event, moderated by Karen Coleman. With a line-up of over 75 speakers across the 1.5 days, the event highlighted EMODnet’s crucial role in the European Marine Data Ecosystem, focusing on a "Digital and Green Future." If you missed a session or want to revisit the insights, the EMODnet Open Conference 2023  website includes all Plenary video recordings, Plenary and Townhall presentations. A full conference report will follow in early 2024, and a News Flash was released 1 week after the Conference with some key highlights.

© Serena Vittorini

An EMODnet Call to Action was launched during the Closing Session of the EMODnet Open Conference on November 30th 2023. This calls upon key actors across the National, Regional, European and Global marine knowledge community to increase their engagement with EMODnet, and to actively contribute to shape EMODnet’s evolution, taking community and political action to ensure EMODnet can not only consolidate, but also expand to meet user demand, to operate as a fully functioning, operational service of the European Commission.

EMODnet: A unified EC in situ marine data service

© Serena Vittorini

The EMODnet Open Conference 2023 took stock of EMODnet’s evolution to-date into the operational European Commission in situ marine data service it is today, a flagship initiative funded by the EC DG MARE, and one of the main Marine Knowledge assets of the European Union. Charlina Vitcheva, Director-General of DG MARE opened the Conference noting “I have seen it [EMODnet] grow from a network of marine communities to a single point of access supporting sustainable marine policies. It is now an integral part of the Green Transition, establishing good practices by providing good data. “, followed by a welcome from Kate Larkin, Head of the EMODnet Secretariat.  The 7 thematic Coordinators of EMODnet then presented the latest EMODnet service offer, a public portal serving users with pan-European data and data products across hundreds of parameters spanning the marine environment (bathymetry, biology, chemistry, geology, physics and seabed habitats) and human activities at sea. Finally, a Panel including wider stakeholders discussed the value of EMODnet, including perspectives from the Copernicus Marine Service, Regional Sea Conventions, the private sector, EU Member States, EMODnet associated partners and the winner of the EMODnet Open Sea Lab 3.0 Hackathon, and more.

At the EMODnet Open Conference 2023, a new video animation was released that explains the EMODnet unified service, noting the centralization of all 7 EMODnet thematics into one portal, and what is means for EMODnet’s diverse user community. 

You can watch and share the full video here. 

EMODnet and Copernicus Marine Service release joint communication on In Situ Marine Data

At the start of the EMODnet Open Conference 2023 the two EC marine data services EMODnet and Copernicus Marine Service, launched a joint communication on the EU in situ marine data landscape. The statement explains the complementarity between the two EU marine knowledge assets, and also how the services work together, following a high-level agreement between DG DEFIS and DG MARE and the signature of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2016.

Read the article here.

EMODnet for the Digital Era

© Serena Vittorini

EMODnet’s key role in the European Digital Twin Ocean (EU DTO) was presented by Francisco (Tjess) Hernandez, VLIZ, Belgium, together with a policy perspective from John Bell, EC DG Research and Innovation. A Panel of experts spanning the EMODnet Secretariat, European Commission, Copernicus Marine Service / Mercator Ocean International and wider initiatives explored the interplay of cutting-edge technology within EMODnet, its role in the EU DTO, including via the EDITO-Infra initiative, and collaborations with Destination Earth and related Horizon Europe projects.

EMODnet Community Townhalls

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EMODnet and EU Policy Townhall: This session was co-chaired by Alessandra Giorgetti, from OGS, (Italy) and Fergal McGrath from the Marine Institute (Ireland) and explored EMODnet's role in the EU Green Deal and related Policy Implementation. Discussions revolved around regulatory monitoring data quality, data governance, and flows, leading to community recommendations on areas where EMODnet adds value and potential areas for strengthened contributions. The Rapporteur was Ángel Muñiz Piniella from the European Marine Board (EMB) assisted by EMODnet Secretariat facilitators Nathalie Tonné and Matteo Mikos

EMODnet, Ocean Best Practices, and Interoperability Townhall: This was co chaired by Conor Delaney from the EMODnet Secretariat and  Marie-Francoise Voidrot, from the Open Geospatial Consortium, (OGC), who led a technical discussion on data and metadata standardization, harmonization, flows, and digital services. The session aimed to produce community recommendations on existing and emerging EMODnet best practices and explored ways to enhance engagement with other regions globally for increased data interoperability in the Global Ocean Data Ecosystem. The Rapporteur was Britt Alexander from the EMB assisted by EMODnet Secretariat facilitators Vicente Fernandez & Tim Collart.

EMODnet, EU Mission Ocean, and Wider Society Townhall: This session was co-chaired by Patrick Gorringe from SMHI (Sweden) and Nathalie Van Isacker from the EMODnet Secretariat. The session focused on EMODnet's contributions to Mission Ocean and its impact on wider society. Assessing EMODnet's current offerings across Mission Ocean objectives, the discussion explored ways to increase data sharing from Mission Ocean projects, enhance connections with society through citizen engagement, and leverage ocean literacy tools such as the European Atlas of the Seas. The Rapporteur was Jana Van Elslander from the EMB, assisted by EMODnet Secretariat facilitator Pieter Torrez.

EMODnet for the Blue Economy Townhall: This was co-chaired by representatives Luca Marangoni (CINEA) and Séverine Renault (AND-I) with a discussion on EMODnet's crucial role in supporting the Blue Economy. Exploring the dependence of the Blue Economy on EMODnet services, the session sought recommendations on strengthening data sharing by the private sector and improving support for Blue Economy requirements through initiatives like the Associated Partnership Scheme. The Rapporteur was Emily Waterfield, journalist  and EMODnet Secretariat facilitator Megan Tijssens.
Each Town Hall fostered engaging dialogue and breakout sessions, generating valuable recommendations and insights. For those not participating in the conference in person, the conference report with amble information will soon be available on the conference website, providing an opportunity to catch up on these enriching discussions.

EMODnet Community Posters and Wider Perspectives

© Serena Vittorini

EMODnet is about the people and its diverse community. At the Open Conference 2023, an interactive session featured an overview of the EMODnet Virtual Exhibition (see below), together with diverse community poster pitches, and an open mic Panel where members of the community could provide perspectives and recommendations. Live poster pitch presentations took the spotlight, with community members presenting their posters in quick-fire rounds. The large screen brought these digital posters to life, creating an engaging atmosphere and fostering knowledge exchange among participants. The variety of posters underscored the wealth of expertise within the EMODnet community. All posters can be found in the EMODnet Virtual Exhibition, which will remain online until the end of 2024.

EMODnet, Ocean Observation, and the Marine Knowledge Value Chain

© Serena Vittorini

EMODnet experts Dick Schaap, MARIS, The Netherlands, Antonio Novellino, ETT, Italy and Sissy Iona, HCMR, Greece presented on EMODnet in the marine knowledge value chain, EMODnet’s partnership with the Copernicus Marine Service and EMODnet Data Ingestion. In two subsequent Panels, EMODnet's key role in the marine knowledge value chain and its strong connections with the ocean observation and data collection community were showcased. EMODnet’s contribution to the EC Ocean Observation Initiative, including the value of the EMODnet’s Sea-basin Checkpoint activities on data adequacy at regional sea-basin level, and EMODnet’s contribution to the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) were also discussed with diverse stakeholder representatives.

EMODnet Impact for Society

© Serena Vittorini

EMODnet has a very diverse and expanding user base, across European stakeholder communities, and beyond. A session was dedicated to these users, bringing together stakeholders from EU Policy, Blue Economy, and Wider Society to discuss the tangible value of EMODnet data, data products and services. Panels explored its application in EU Policy, including the EU Green Deal, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Maritime Spatial Planning Directive and more, supporting the Blue Economy – including Offshore Renewable Energy and Coastal Tourism, and benefiting wider society, supplying marine data and knowledge to non-governmental organisations and the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters and Horizon Europe projects, and working with these entities including citizen science to bring more societal data into EMODnet, which also powers the EC European Atlas of the Seas for Ocean Literacy.

EMODnet and the Global Ocean Data Ecosystem

© Serena Vittorini

The "EMODnet and the Global Ocean Data Ecosystem" session served as a nexus of diverse insights and perspectives, showcasing the robust collaboration and contribution that EMODnet has established on the global stage, together with EMODnet's vital contribution to the UN Ocean Decade, for which it is an implementing partner.

EMODnet’s recent unification has been a game-changer for its interoperability and contribution to global ocean data initiatives. A session was dedicated to EMODnet’s global impact, including presentations from Peter Pissierssens of IODE of IOC/UNESCO, Lennert Tyberhein of VLIZ, Belgium and Jan-Bart Calewaert, Head of the UN Ocean Decade Coordination Office for data sharing. 

Discussions commenced with a presentation by Peter Pissierssens of IODE IOC/UNESCO, providing a comprehensive overview of global ocean policy perspectives. This presentation set the tone for the subsequent discussions. Following this, key messages from the EMODnet Townhall on interoperability and ocean best practices were shared, offering valuable insights into EMODnet's strategic vision.

The first panel of the session discussed EMODnet’s contribution to global ocean best practices, interoperability, and efficient data sharing for the global ocean data ecosystem and the UN Ocean Decade. This include how EMODnet is now harvested and visible in global ocean data initiatives including ODIS of IODE, IOC/UNESCO, GEOSS, and the Ocean Best Practice System (OBPS).

The second panel titled “Exploring Global and Regional Partnerships” looked into EMODnet’s existing and emerging partnerships worldwide. This included a presentation from NMDIS, China, with whom EMODnet has a long-standing collaboration via the EU-China EMOD-PACE and CEMDNET projects. 

© Serena Vittorini

Two representatives from the National Marine Data and Information Service (NMDIS) of China, Mr Xiaojian CUI, Deputy Director-General, and Miao SUN, scientist at NMDIS, attended the EMODnet Open Conference. Their participation was marked by a presentation and participation in a panel discussion during the Session on ‘EMODnet and the Global Ocean Data Ecosystem’, highlighting the achievements of the successful EMOD-PACE CEMDnet EU-China collaboration on marine data sharing and international ocean governance. The NMDIS delegates engaged in constructive dialogues with EMODnet on common strategies to enhance international blue economy and marine monitoring, and their shared effort in supporting ocean sustainable development to achieve the UN Ocean Decade for Ocean Science objectives.

EMODnet Evolution

© Serena Vittorini

The Open Conference 2023 Closing Session began with a speech by Delilah Al Khudhairy, Director of Maritime Policy and Blue Economy, EC DG MARE who noted that “EMODnet has been one of the most important investments of DG MARE…..We will move forward together”  . A Panel of 7 experts from the EMODnet stakeholder community exchanged on EMODnet’s achievements to-date and looked to the future of EMODnet and its evolution. Kate Larkin, Head of EMODnet Secretariat then presented an EMODnet Call to Action on behalf of the EMODnet Partnership.

European Atlas of the Seas highlights

© Serena Vittorini

The connection of EMODnet to wider society was exemplified by its key contribution to the European Atlas of the Seas, an EC communication tool for education and ocean literacy. The EU Atlas of the Seas was featured strongly at the EMODnet Open Conference 2023, with the EMODnet Secretariat EU Atlas of the Seas team Tim Collart and Nathalie Van Isacker, speaking on the Panel “EMODnet for wider society” and co-Chairing a Townhall on this topic. In addition, a poster was pitched in the community perspectives session, and the EU Atlas of the Seas has a dedicated room in the Conference Virtual Exhibition, as well as featuring in the physical exhibition.

The EU Atlas of the Seas Map of the Week, released on 1 December 2023 presents the European Union Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters, with EMODnet having pledged its support to the Mission Charter.

EMODnet welcomes three New Associated Partners

During the EMODnet Open Conference 2023 week, EMODnet welcomed three new Associated Partners, namely, e-BO Enterprises, Puertos del Estado and Marine Centre Wales, School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University.

Read the article.

Physical exhibition

© Serena Vittorini

The EMODnet Open Conference 2023 included a physical exhibition which served as a dynamic hub during networking breaks, showcasing EMODnet and key European and international ocean observation networks and infrastructures, marine data services and wider marine data initiatives.

Participating organizations included the European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS), International Council of the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), Copernicus Marine Services with EDITO, Unesco IOC/IODE, EMODnet, the European Atlas of the Seas, SeaDataNet, Seabed2030, and EurOBIS. The exhibition also highlighted EU Infrastructure Projects such as Jerico RI , EMBRC-ERIC, and Euro-Argo.

Throughout the event, screens continuously featured the participating organizations and projects, creating an engaging and informative backdrop at the conference venue. Special recognition was extended to The European Marine Board (EMB) for their significant support in reporting the outcomes of town halls.

Organisers express our heartfelt thanks to all participating organizations and projects for their valuable presence, turning the physical exhibition into a focal point of knowledge exchange and collaboration.

Virtual Exhibition

In an interactive session during the EMODnet Open Conference 2023, attendees were treated to a dynamic exploration and short video tour through the Virtual Exhibition  which contains many resources and updates on EMODnet thematic and data ingestion services, key partnerships spanning business to ocean observation and from EU to global, EMODnet videos and other communication outputs, the European Atlas of the Seas and >50 community posters solicited and submitted specifically for the Open Conference 2023. The Virtual Exhibition remains open for 1 year until 30 November 2024.

EMODnet Partner Jamboree

Before the plenary stage opened for the EMODnet Open Conference 2023, the EMODnet community convened for the EMODnet Partner Jamboree 2023—an exclusive gathering of EMODnet partners and Associated Partners. This pre-conference event provided a unique setting for in-depth discussions, partner meetings, cross-thematic dialogues, and collaborative endeavors, setting the stage for the subsequent conference. Topics of discussion spanned EMODnet and Citizen Science, EMODnet Communication, EMODnet and the EU Digital Twin Ocean, and EMODnet content evolution, ranging from the coast to the deep sea and from the surface ocean to the seafloor, including ideas for new cross-thematic data products. A Partnership Dinner on 28th November evening included speeches by Kestutis Sadauskas, Deputy Director-General EC DG MARE and Kate Larkin, Head, EMODnet Secretariat. A full article dedicated to the Jamboree is here.