Navigating Towards a Healthier Future: Mission Ocean and Waters 2030

The health of Europe’s ocean and waters is not merely a matter of environmental concern; it is intricately tied to the economic, social, and ecological well-being of the continent.

The health of Europe’s ocean and waters is not merely a matter of environmental concern; it is intricately tied to the economic, social, and ecological well-being of the continent. With a staggering 68,000 km of coastline, surpassing even Russia and the United States combined, and a water jurisdiction exceeding its land area, Europe's aquatic ecosystems play a pivotal role in shaping the region's prosperity. However, rapid degradation of marine and freshwater systems, coupled with the looming threats of climate change, demands urgent and concerted action.

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In response to this critical need, the Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030 (Mission Ocean and Waters) emerges as a beacon of hope. This ambitious mission is tailored to meet the EU's quantified and measurable targets for protecting and restoring ecosystems, eliminating pollution, and fostering a sustainable blue economy. Aligned with the overarching goals of the European Green Deal, Mission Ocean and Waters stands as a testament to the commitment towards securing the health, well-being, and prosperity of Europe's citizens.

The mission is undergoing a development and piloting phase from 2021 to 2025, during which 'lighthouses' will be established as hubs in major European sea and river basins. These lighthouses are envisioned as catalysts for the development, demonstration, and deployment of on-the-ground solutions. Serving as frameworks for cooperation at the basin level, they lay the groundwork for the deployment and upscaling phase scheduled for 2026-2030. In this next phase, solutions tested in the initial stage will be developed, replicated, and scaled up to enable widespread implementation across the EU and its neighboring basins.

The Synergy Info Pack unveiled today is a testament to the collaborative efforts driving Mission Ocean and Waters. Highlighting 34 research projects funded through Horizon 2020, LIFE, and EMFF, the Info Pack showcases groundbreaking work addressing the technical, social, governance innovation, and business models essential for the restoration of aquatic ecosystems. These projects leverage existing European infrastructures and services, such as Copernicus, EMODnet, Destination Earth, and European Research Infrastructure Consortia (ERICs), while paving the way for future research under the next Work Programmes.

Notably, the Info Pack underscores the vital role of digital innovation in the mission's success. Projects promoting a digital ocean and water knowledge system, coupled with a participatory governance approach, are heralding a blue transition that aligns with Europe's Digital Age aspirations. The emphasis on co-design and co-implementation with citizens and stakeholders places inclusivity at the heart of Mission Ocean and Waters.

To reverse the degradation of Europe's ocean and waters, the mission recognizes the interconnected drivers of exploitation, including pollution, climate change, knowledge gaps, and lack of citizen engagement. Through systemic research and innovation spanning the entire water system, Mission Ocean and Waters aims to accelerate transitions, delivering tangible solutions for the restoration of our ocean and waters. As we navigate towards a healthier future, these collaborative efforts epitomize Europe's commitment to fostering sustainable, resilient, and climate-neutral blue economies.