The Blue-Cloud Project has recently concluded its first year of operations, and with it the first round of stakeholder consultations towards building the Blue-Cloud Roadmap to 2030 – the vision and strategic plan that will guide the further development and evolution into its medium and longer-term future. Led by Seascape Belgium, Trust-IT Services and MARIS, this first phase of the stakeholder dialogue has specifically been geared at establishing initial conversations with closer members of the Blue-Cloud Community, including Project Partners, the Blue-Cloud External Stakeholder & Expert Board (ESEB), several key representatives of the European Commission and relevant stakeholder communities (marine researchers, marine data infrastructures, research infrastructures and e-infrastructures). Starting with a workshop gathering the ESEB in July, an online survey to the wider community in October and a Policy Dialogue in November, this first phase wrapped up in December by bringing our key experts together again in order to reflect on the preliminary results of these conversations and guide the next steps forward.
Some key messages and findings have already stemmed from these initial consultations. The first and most inspiring outcome is the extraordinary response of the marine and maritime community to contribute towards a collective vision, as ratified by the 138 responses received to the first consultation. While naturally most contributions come from professionals rooted across different EU Member States, responses from Algeria, Brazil, Russia and the United States give further testimony of the international interest towards this European effort. Likewise, the broad representation of EU Directorate Generals and agencies in the Policy Dialogue established in November confirms the momentum in which the Blue-Cloud is developing, as welll as the relevant expectations to leverage its assets in support of the EU Green Deal.
Another interesting outcome of these initial consultations revolves around the purpose of the Blue-Cloud, which the overwhelming majority (96%) of the community identifies with supporting Open Science. It is therefore no surprise that the marine research and scientific community has been identified by 95% of respondents as the number one, priority user community for the Blue-Cloud in the short term. Still, there is general consensus that the projectshould also be instrumental to inform better science-based policies (93%) and to drive innovation into the Blue Economy (83%), albeit keeping the latter as a longer-term objective.
Finally, another noteworthy result points out to a shared expectation across different stakeholder communities regarding the benefits that will seemingly result from the Blue-Cloud project: the development of a yet wider community to collaborate by sharing and exchanging marine data, innovations, outputs, products and services to advance our collective knowledge and understanding of the Ocean.
In January 2021, the Blue-Cloud project Partners will come together to reflect on these results and to continue sharing visions and expertise into the development of the Blue-Cloud Service Exploitation and Sustainability Plan – a beacon towards building, re-using and capitalizing on the B-C assets, with a back-bone of data discovery and access building on existing data and research infrastructures e.g. SeaDataNet, and long-term EU mandated data services, such as EMODnet and Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, amongst others. This effort will also benefit from additional, recent collaborations and alliances that are being explored and established to build synergies between the Blue-Cloud and other European projects and initiatives. Partners will also continue working together towards co-designing a medium and long-term vision for the future development of the Blue-Cloud into the future, building a Blue-Cloud capability that is open and inclusive and establishing priorities to contribute to the EU Green Deal and other relevant international frameworks, such as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Building on a detailed Concept Note and this first phase of stakeholder consultation, the early results of this process will see the light with the first draft B-C Roadmap to 2030, which is planned for release in early Spring 2021 for wider stakeholder consultation throughout the summer. So stay tuned for more exciting developments as we welcome and venture into the New Year!