Interaction between people, oceans and seas: a strategic approach towards healthcare and well-being
The interaction between people, oceans, seas and coasts is a broad domain with significant impacts on human health and well-being. However, it remains fragmented, poorly understood and underexploited. As coastal populations grow worldwide, not only due to permanent dwellers but also due to increasingly larger number of tourists, the determinants and impacts of this link between oceans and people become more relevant. On the one hand, the seas provide benefits namely through food, feed and positive impacts on overall wellness. On the other hand, the risks associated with the marine environment include chemical and physical pollutants of anthropogenic origin, harmful algal blooms, and countless marine microorganisms that lead to a still poorly assessed proportion of human morbidity and mortality. Therefore, the challenge is to coordinate the existing multidisciplinary research knowledge and resources, including distributed infrastructures, across Europe. This would make it easier to take advantage of the benefits and to better manage the risks of the interaction between oceans and people using an ecosystem-based approach and to formulate evidence-based policies that can benefit citizens as well as achieving good environmental status.
Proposals should include a plan for the creation of a multi-stakeholder forum that would make it possible to better understand the potential health benefits of marine and coastal ecosystems including in economic terms, anticipate new threats to public health more effectively, identify ways of improving ecosystem services that the marine environment can provide and contribute to reducing the burden of diseases caused by the interplay between marine-degraded environments and human behaviour. This forum is expected to issue a strategic research agenda based on data covering the biological, cultural and socio-economic dimensions of the interaction between oceans and human health that can ultimately impact morbidity and mortality in the general population. Data should encompass sex and gender differences in the populations studied. Data should be assessed through an active involvement of diverse stakeholders across Europe, including local marine communities, civil society, industry, and public authorities.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 2 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Projects funded under this topic will by default participate in the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020, with the option to opt-out, as described in the introduction.
In order to support key EU policies, in particular those directly related to the marine and maritime sectors, such as the EU Blue Growth Agenda, the Blue Tourism Communication and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, proposals are expected to:
- Create a multi-stakeholder forum that issues a strategic research agenda for oceans and human health, based on new scientific and/or technological evidence and best practices across different geographical locations and climates.
- Highlight novel, cost-effective solutions or interventions that enable effective policy making that aims to maximise health benefits and minimising risks derived from exposure to marine and coastal ecosystems.
- Actively involve local communities across different European maritime regions, comprising civil society, industry, public authorities in data supply, knowledge generation and solution implementation processes.
- Improve global cooperation around oceans and human health.
- Improve the professional skills and competences for those working and being trained to work within the blue economy.