EU Horizon 2020 project

A large scale EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation project contributing to the Trans-Atlantic Research Alliance and GEO.

62 Partners, 18 Countries

International integration of Atlantic ocean observing activities – further supporters / members are welcome.

Ambitions and Why the ocean matters


This high level symposium will celebrate the success of the Horizon 2020 EU Research and Innovation Action AtlantOS and at the same time will mark the beginning of the international AtlantOS (Atlantic Ocean Observing System) as the All Atlantic part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and contribution to the Group on Earth Observations Blue Planet Initiative.

During the symposium the “AtlantOS BluePrint”, a high level strategy for Atlantic Ocean Observing will be formally released. Moreover, the symposium will bring together scientists, policy makers, users, funders and other stakeholders and articulate and refine the joint ambition for ocean observing. It will provide input to the G7-Ocean group, the international OceanObs’19 conference and feed into the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

The first two days (25 – 26 March) of the symposium, the scientific segment, will be more targeted to the scientific technical community to showcase success, articulate opportunities, needs and benefits arising from the work of the EU project AtlantOS. Day three and four are the high level segment of the symposium, with day 3 (27 March) focussing on perspectives from national and international ocean policy processes and national ocean observing ambitions and day 4 (28 March) focuses on societal benefits from the user, private sector and civil society perspective.

Why the ocean and ocean related research are important

The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. It regulates our weather and climate. It holds vast and in some cases untouched resources. It provides us with essentials such as food, materials, energy, and transportation, and we also enjoy the seascape for religious or recreational purposes. The ocean provides enormous economic and ecosystem services to humanity.

Today, more than 40% of the global population lives in areas within 200 km of the ocean, and 12 out of 15 mega-cities are coastal. The doubling of the world population over the last 50 years, rapid industrial development, and growing human affluence are exerting increasing pressure on the ocean. It is in this context that over the last few years, scientists and societal actors have organized a bottom-up movement, which has ultimately led to the United Nations General Assembly proclaiming a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030).

In this process, governments, industry, and scientists have raised awareness of the rapid degradation and over-use of the ocean. The final document from the Rio+20 summit, The Future We Want, made extensive reference to the ocean, and the Global Ocean Commission articulated the need for more effective global ocean policies. Moreover, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes an explicit ocean goal (SDG14) that led in 2017 to the first-ever UN Ocean Conference to support its implementation. The ambition of the Decade is to use this gathering momentum to mobilize the scientific community, policy-makers, business, and civil society around a program of joint research, technological innovation, and impact.

The United Nations has proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) to support efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health and gather ocean stakeholders worldwide behind a common framework that will ensure ocean science can fully support countries in creating improved conditions for sustainable development of the Ocean.The Decade will strengthen the international cooperation needed to develop the scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society. It will also contribute to the UN processes protecting the ocean and its resources, such as the Aichi Biodiversity targets, the SAMOA Pathway to address climate change, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The Decade will require the engagement of many different stakeholders to create new ideas, solutions, partnerships and applications. These include: scientists, governments, academics, policy makers, business, industry and civil society. The AtlantOS Symposium will inform the planning for the UN Ocean Science Decade with regards to ocean observing and information needs.