#OceanOptimism: balancing the narrative about the future of the ocean

Date(s): 
9 - 11 June 2020
Location(s): 
San Sebastián, Spain
Training Provider(s): 
AZTI

AZTI organizes annually (since 2004) an international ‘Summer School’ on marine research related cutting-edge topics, always trying to bridge the gap between research and policy. The course is taught by about 5-12 speakers and attended by around 40-60 students from 10- 15 countries each year.

Some years we have organized the school back to back with European projects, such as DEVOTES, MARS, SOPHIE, GlobalHAB, as well as other organizations (e.g. Euromarine, EEAcademy, European Environment Agency -EEA-). This year the school is organized by AZTI, with the support of Frontiers in Marine Science and EEA.

For 2020, coinciding with the 17 th anniversary of the courses, the topic proposed is “#OceanOptimism: balancing the narrative about the future of the ocean”. This course will build on, and go beyond, the “State and Outlook of the Environment 2019” and the “Marine Messages II” reports, from the European Environment Agency. We will examine how, despite the fact that our seas are facing important challenges (e.g. climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, etc.), the management measures taken in the last decades have changed the decline trends of many systems, including the reduction of eutrophication, reduction of pollution from some metals and organic compounds, recovery of ecosystems (and the associated goods and services), recovery of fishing stocks in some regional seas, increase of Marine Protected Areas, etc. In addition, for those topics that still show decline, some solutions will be discussed, including the narrative that still media is producing and how media can contribute to disseminate a positive narrative for society.

The attendees will acquire knowledge in the health of marine systems, current trends, future tendencies and potential solutions to improve those systems or ecosystem components needing management decisions and media support. This summer school will benefit from the inter/transdisciplinary integration of different sciences (e.g. marine and fisheries biology, toxicology, microbiology, social sciences, etc.) necessary to understand the response of our seas to human activities and pressures, but also their recovery when adequate management decisions are taken and the necessary knowledge by society of this progress, with the support of media. This course will explore this through different topics, particularly emphasizing communication, citizens engagement and co-creation with diverse stakeholder communities. The main objective of the school is to give an overview on the challenges that oceans are facing, the positive trends we can see in many locations, due to policies and management, and opportunities presented by scientific and technological solutions for impacted seas.

As an outcome of this course (in addition to the presentations, which will be freely available after the school), the professors participating in the course will prepare an open access position paper on this topic, to be submitted to Frontiers in Marine Science. This will be a cross-cutting review. This position paper will have an impact on another key audience, i.e. research funders, marine policy makers, and managers. In addition to such impact, it is expected that students participating in this summer school will implement the knowledge gained through this summer school in their professional careers.