PREP4BLUE, a new Horizon Europe project which started in June 2022, has the ambitious aim to restore the health of our ocean, seas and waters by protecting and restoring marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, preventing and eliminating pollution, and making the Blue Economy sustainable, carbon neutral and circular by 2030.
This €4.9 million, three-year project is called PREP4BLUE, which stands for ‘Preparing the Research & Innovation Core for Mission Ocean, Seas & Waters’. This name was chosen because it will set the foundations for co-creating and co-implementing the research and innovation required to enable the ‘EU Mission: Restore Our Ocean and Waters’.
Focusing on four specific “Lighthouse” areas including the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic and North Seas, the Danube River basin, and the Atlantic/Arctic Sea basin, PREP4BLUE seeks to provide methodologies, tools and resources that will enable all citizens and stakeholders to engage with the Mission objectives.
Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program, PREP4BLUE is made up of 17 committed and motivated project partners from eight different countries. The group’s first face to face meeting, which was held in Brussels on the 14th and 15th of September, outlined the implementation plans aimed at developing tangible, practical solutions that will support the EU to achieve its Mission.
Galway Atlantaquaria, in its capacity as current Secretariat of the Irish Ocean Literacy Network, is part of the PREP4BLUE consortium and will be involved in work package 3 of the project. This work package, which is led by the MaREI Centre at the University College Cork, is focused on enabling stakeholders to empower citizen and community-led action in support of the Mission, through deepening and widening citizen engagement by leveraging participatory innovations. Galway Atlantaquaria will focus on ‘Network and Support Networks who engage Citizens’ and its role will be mainly to implement the tools and methods developed within WP3, develop the IOLN through e. g. increase of the membership, development of the offers to members, fundraising, to mentor other OLNs across Europe (e. g. the Italian OLN), and to pilot restoration activities in Ireland, in agreement with the focus of the Atlantic/Artic Lighthouse.
The other focus areas of PREP4BLUE, which are part of the remaining work packages are:
- To liaise and create synergies with the European Commission, the Mission Bodies, the Mission Core Network and relevant sea/ocean and freshwater policies instruments, initiatives, partnerships, projects;
- To build on and connect the many existing projects and initiatives at the EU, national, and local levels, as well as inspire awe and wonder around the ocean – connecting people with things they deeply value and welcome – and eliciting interest in taking action;
- To showcase at pilot scale fit-for-purpose methods to manage knowledge in support of the Mission building upon past projects containing components for the effective management of knowledge and data which will be combined with new digital methods;
- To support the creation of the enabling ecosystem from a regulatory and economic perspective, which accelerates the private/public investments needed in future projects;
- To develop a multidisciplinary, multistakeholder approach based on the ‘Penta-Helix Model’ which includes industry/businesses, public authorities, citizens/local residents, academia/the knowledge sector and associations, and builds upon a culture of collaboration and recognition of the environment as fundamental in contributing to social innovation.
Check out the PREP4BLUE website and follow @PREP4BLUE on Twitter to stay up to date with the progress of the project. Follow @eumissionocean on Twitter instead to engage with EU Mission: Restore Our Ocean and Waters, and visit EU Missions in Horizon Europe to learn more about all five EU Missions.