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International experts analyse ocean protection challenges at the University of the Basque Country

225 people from all over the world to attend the MER Community Summit 2022 organised by the MER Consortium in Bilbao and San Sebastián

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First publication date: 05/09/2022

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Global ocean change and climate crisis, marine pollution, preservation of biodiversity and integrated management of coastal areas will be examined by the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), the University of Bordeaux, the University of Southampton and the University of Liège at the MER Community Summit 2022 organised by the MER Consortium, to be held in Bilbao and San Sebastián from 7 to 10 September.

The United Nations (UN) declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The objective is to mobilise the scientific community and also politicians, businesses and civil society around a common technological innovation and research programme. This sets the context for the international congress organised by the MER Consortium at the UPV/EHU's Bizkaia Aretoa from 7 to 9 September, and at San Sebastián's Aquarium on 10 September.

It will be attended by 225 people from all over the world, who will spend four days analysing the main challenges of the Decade of Ocean Science; observatories and monitoring systems, environmental protection and management, marine pollution, preservation of biodiversity, integrated coastal zone management, global change and climate crisis, sustainable management of biological resources, marine biotechnology and socio-economic aspects, ocean literacy, environmental awareness, and the blue economy.

Ionan Marigomez, who heads up the UPV/EHU's Marine Station Plentzia (PIE), draws attention to the packed programme of the MER Community Summit 2022. He says “we will have the world's leading scientists on hand, such as the director of the CSIC Higher Council of Scientific Research's Spanish Oceanography Institute Luis Valdés, the University of Sorbonne National Scientific Research Centre's researcher Marie-Alexandrine Sicre, and the executive director of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), Patricia Miloslavich. In addition to the talks, the event will feature 36 presentations, 24 panels and 2 workshops, with a diverse selection of attendees, including academics, managers of administration and research centres etc.".

The global Ocean Science community

The Erasmus Mundus Marine Environment Master's, coordinated by the University of the Basque Country, promotes a global Ocean Science community. Marigomez points out that "the University of the Basque Country, the University of Bordeaux and the University of Southampton make up the MER Consortium, and we launched the joint MER master's in 2005. The University of Liège then joined the consortium, and the master's was added to the Erasmus Mundus framework in the academic year 2012-13.. The University of the Azores will also be joining the consortium this year".

The original aim of the Erasmus Marine Environment Master's was to cover broad issues in relation to the marine environment and marine resources. It subsequently adapted to recent priorities and guidelines in ocean and environmental sciences, and evolved to focus on interactions with the marine environment and resources, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Acquisition of the Erasmus Mundus brand made the programme more accessible to students from all over the world, and it has now been completed by 400 people from 60 countries. In the last call there were over 800 applications from 88 countries, but the consortium can only take in 36 new students each year.

The director of the Plentzia PIE points out that "the extended MER Consortium includes academic and industrial associates from all over the world, offering research internships, professional placements and thesis research supervision In a general sense, these are solid pillars for a global MER Community that includes students, former students, teachers and administrative staff, researchers and stakeholders. This MER Community provides graduates with invaluable options for career development and employment, and maintains long-lasting links with all its members".