Dear President Bolieiro, dear José Manuel,
Dear Minister Serrão Santos, dear Ricardo,
Dear Minister Heitor, dear Manuel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking the Portuguese Presidency for inviting me to open this high-level event.
I apologize for not being physically in Ponta Delgada with most of you.
I am extremely happy nonetheless that this Ministerial, gathered in the Azores, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, brings together several Ministers from the EU, as well as from our international partner countries, along and across the Atlantic.
Our collective adventure started in 2013, in a small harbour city of the North Atlantic, the city of Galway. Back then we were three: the US and Canada, and the European Commission representing the Union.
And look at us now - five more countries joined us since then: Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Capo Verde, and Morocco, and our ambition has grown now from Pole to Pole.
Since setting sail on our common Atlantic Ocean journey together, we have made remarkable progress with our marine research and innovation cooperation.
I would like to express my gratitude towards everyone carrying out this important work around the All Atlantic Ocean coming together in a joint effort, putting the health of the Ocean at its centre – and ultimately our health as individuals and societies:
- all the Ministers from the different countries and sides of the Atlantic;
- all the people and organisations who put forward a pledge;
- all the scientists and other stakeholders involved in the 26 sides events of this Ministerial;
- the youth ambassadors from North and South, East and West of the Atlantic ocean, for their enthusiasm and commitment to promote our joint work.
We are gathered here because we treasure the Atlantic Ocean.
But the Ocean is in declining health due to an increasing footprint of human use and global warming.
There are many successful actions and projects on-going; however, the scale of this action is simply not meeting the overriding nature of the ocean’s problems that we are confronted with.
We need to go further, and do better. Together.
To reach our European Green Deal ambitions and make Europe a climate neutral continent by 2050, we need to care for the ocean, and empower the young generations to follow this example.
There is no green without blue.
No country could realise this on their own - we need to join forces to help protect the ocean ecosystems.
Ocean science needs to help us transition to a sustainable use of the environment – in the end, we all pursue the same vision: a healthy, clean, sustainable ocean that will allow future generations to thrive on this Planet.
The last and biggest call of Horizon 2020, the European Green Deal call - worth €1 billion, will accelerate a just and sustainable transition to a climate-neutral Europe.
It included blue-related actions, such as:
- Towards a digital twin of the ocean,
- Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services and
- Testing and demonstrating systemic innovations in support of the Farm-to-Fork Strategy.
The results of the evaluation are soon to be public. I am confident that the projects will spur Europe's recovery by turning green challenges into innovation opportunities.
Now, looking to the future, let us continue – together - to deepen our work for an inclusive All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance from Pole to Pole and develop a new vision for the next 10 years.
I hope to see this community of countries grow further and I am strongly committed to support this process.
In our recent Communication for a Global Approach to Research and Innovation, we have stressed the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance as a successful model of multilateralism and science diplomacy from which we can take inspiration when developing other multilateral initiatives in the future.
We can learn from such experiences to elevate not only our aspirations, but also our collective action for a healthier Ocean and a climate-resilient Planet for the generations to come.
On our side, rest assured, we will continue to support research and innovation efforts via our new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe.
While many successful instruments, like the traditional calls for proposals, continue, Horizon Europe also offer two new tools which will be crucial for keeping our ocean and seas healthy:
First, the Mission “Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters” and
Second, a public partnership “A climate-neutral, sustainable and productive blue economy”.
For these new tools to succeed, we will need to empower citizens and practitioners to co-design and co-implement solutions.
We will also ensure that those results can be part of the solutions needed to support and implement the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
A couple of days ago, I had the privilege to be part of the High-Level Launch event in Berlin, at the invitation of Minister Karliczek.
I would like to reiterate our commitment and support for achieving the objectives of the UN Decade, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
We need global aims, and local action. Our actions discussed in this conference, together with our international partners, on and for the Atlantic Ocean, will be our collective contribution to the UN Ocean Decade.
Along the same line, our commitment to support Arctic science has been reinforced recently, by signing of the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial Joint statement a couple of weeks ago.
At this occasion, I announced our ambition for a Research alliance spanning from Pole to Pole, that will include and strengthen the Polar research component.
I also mentioned our support and respect of Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge, proposing this theme to be on the agenda of a future All Atlantic conference.
Lastly, it is important to remind ourselves, that there is no cooperation without bringing youth on board.
Our common future – and present - depends on young, enthusiastic and engaged people.
This is why I would like to finish by mentioning the different Youth Ambassadors programmes that I launched over the last year.
In the Atlantic, but also in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea.
The aim is to support early career scientists so that they are given the opportunity to learn and develop, at the same time being a voice for a healthy Ocean.
A special thanks for their engagement and to all of you for your attention.