Leading ocean experts, including from Italy, have started work on a publication, titled Navigating the Future V, which will provide European governments with robust, independent scientific advice and expert opinion on future seas and ocean research to 2030 and beyond.

Experts from the European Marine Board, an independent non-governmental advisory body, to which CoNISMa belongs, have identified five key areas of marine science to guide both the research and the science policy agendas at a European and national level over the coming years. This research will help us to understand how our ocean works, and the role we play in its past, present and future. These 5 key areas are:

  • To understand that the ocean is part of planet Earth and helps to regulate the climate; and that humans have a great role in influencing and being influenced by the ocean. The ocean should be studied and managed, not in different compartments as it is done currently, but as a whole, 4-Dimensional system: horizontally, vertically and in time.

  • To assess how human influence is affecting the ocean, not only looking at the problems individually (microplastics, overfishing, climate change, etc.), but seeing how these interact and impact the ocean together.

  • To improve the predictions of extreme events, including natural hazards (like hurricanes and tsunamis) and climate induced impacts affecting the ocean (like ocean acidification and sea-level rise).

  • To benefit from developments in Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence and apply them to ocean technologies.

  • To foster the new discipline of sustainability science, that studies the interactions between natural, social and human systems, to contribute to solutions for complex challenges, like climate change or biodiversity loss.

The European Marine Board is in dialogue with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO to consider these five key areas of marine science and to promote holistic and integrated approaches to develop the common Implementation Plan for the UN ‘Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)’.

Navigating the Future V (NFV) will be regarded as an authoritative foresight report on European marine science” said Jan Mees, Chair of the European Marine Board. “These five key areas of marine science will serve as a compass for stakeholders to foresee the future of seas and ocean research, setting priority recommendations and future scientific challenges in the context of European needs.

The first workshop to discuss the areas to be covered took place at the Hôtel Métropole Brussels, a historical hotel that hosted in 1911 the first international Physics Solvay Congress. That same conference led in 1927 to “the most intelligent picture ever taken”, where 17 of the 29 attendees were or became Nobel Prize winners, including Einstein, Bohr, Skłodowska-Curie, Planck, Schrödinger, Heisenberg and Auguste Piccard. The latter built the Bathyscaphe Trieste, the underwater vehicle that brought his son Jacques Picard and the American mariner Don Walsh to the very depth of the Challenger Deep. Auguste Piccard inspired the Belgian cartoonist Hergé, the author of The Adventures of Tintin, for the character Professor Calculus, the inventor of the “shark-proof submarine”, the famous submarine appearing on the cover of the volume 12 of the series: Red Rackham’s Treasure.

Throughout 2018, the European Marine Board will work on the document, engaging the European marine science community, and the final publication is expected in Spring 2019.

The resulting publication will be written by the marine science community in a format accessible to international, European and national research programme managers, policy-makers, industry and the marine and wider earth system science community itself. The publication, the fifth in this series, provides regular pan-European summaries of current status of marine research, priority recommendations and future scientific challenges in the context of European needs.

Visit the European Marine Board website to keep track on developments about Navigating the Future