International Activity

International and Regional Cooperation

2020 marks the beginning of a new phase of international and regional cooperation arising from the introduction of the European Green Deal and the updated Atlantic Action Plan.

The European Green Deal (2019) aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and boost the health of our planet, economy and people. It is Europe’s new growth strategy designed to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use.It will involve boosting the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, creating sustainable industry and transport, restoring biodiversity and cutting pollution. The European Green Deal stresses the central role of blue economy as a critical enabling vector to reach its objectives.

The Atlantic Action Plan 2.0 (2020) is an update to the EU Atlantic Action Plan 2014-2020. The updated plan is a revamped maritime strategy to foster a sustainable blue economy and the European Green Deal. The purpose of the revised Atlantic action plan 2.0 is to unlock the potential of blue economy in the Atlantic area while preserving marine ecosystems and contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The new action plan addresses key challenges and its aim to foster sustainable blue growth and contribute to greater territorial cooperation and cohesion in the EU Atlantic area under four main pillars:

  • Ports as gateways and hubs for the blue economy
  • Blue skills of the future and ocean literacy
  • Marine renewable energy
  • Healthy ocean and resilient coasts

The EU Atlantic area covers Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain and requires their close cooperation. The action plan also has a strong international dimension in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) including the USA, and Canada, Brazil and South Africa.

Building on Strong Foundations

Previously, guided by Ireland’s Integrated Marine Plan published in 2012 (Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth) and following the success of Irish participation in EU marine projects, Ireland played a key role in supporting and promoting the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (2008), its sea-basin strategies, the EU Strategy for the Atlantic (2011) and the EU Atlantic Action Plan 2014-2020 (2013) and associated strategies (e.g. Blue Growth, Marine Knowledge, etc.).

Signing the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation (24th May 2013). Photographer Andrew Downes.

Further support to trans-Atlantic cooperation between Europe, the United States and Canada was facilitated by Ireland in May 2013 with the signing of the Galway Statement, an agreement on trans-Atlantic Research Cooperation at the Marine Institute Headquarters in Galway. The signatories launched the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) to support the implementation of the Galway Statement. Coordinated by the Marine Institute from 2015 to 2020, the AORA focused on five key areas of cooperation to explore, understand, harness and manage the potential of the Atlantic Ocean.

Continuing the integrated approach to research and development across the Atlantic Ocean, in 2017 the European Union, South Africa and Brazil co-signed the Belém Statement on Atlantic Research Innovation and Cooperation. The EU continues to work on implementing the Galway and Belém Statements towards an All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance by fostering closer cooperation with Atlantic partners along and across the Atlantic basin.


International Funding

The Marine Institute’s National Marine Research Database includes details of internationally funded marine projects with Irish involvement. As an example of Ireland’s successful participation in EU marine projects, during 2014-2016 Ireland cooperated with partners from 48 countries in EU funded and co-funded marine related projects. Cooperation with our nearest neighbours and Atlantic countries dominated, reflecting common interests and geographical perspectives.

Funding to support future pan-European and international marine research cooperation will be supported through EU co-funding accessed via programmes such as Horizon Europe, the LIFE programme, Interreg funding, and the new European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund  (EMFAF). For further details visit our Research and Funding page.

The Importance of International Marine Research Cooperation 

International cooperation is an essential ingredient of a successful research, development and innovation strategy. This is recognised at both European level (e.g. An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union, 2008) and at national level (e.g. Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (2012). Its importance for Ireland is further emphasised in Ireland’s current strategy for research and development, science and technology, “Innovation 2020” published by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Participation in competitive international research, development and innovation projects:

  • adds significant value to national research funding investments;
  • ensures that Irish research efforts are meeting the most demanding international standards;
  • facilitates achievement of the necessary scale of effort whereby national priorities can be more effectively addressed;
  • supports mobility and career development, enhances domestic quality and stimulates innovative thinking;
  • supports research at a regional scale that would not be possible by a single country on its own;
  • helps to reduce duplication and fragmentation of effort;
  • enhances access to international state of the art facilities;
  • strengthens international alliances and opens commercial opportunities for globally traded knowledge based products and services.
Marine Institute Participation

 The Marine Institute participates in a range of international science policy fora and networks aimed at advancing Ireland’s international research collaborations, contributing to the European marine science agenda, promoting marine knowledge, sharing access to pan-European marine research infrastructures and influencing the international research agenda.

Examples include:

  • The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) is an intergovernmental marine science organization, meeting societal needs for impartial evidence on the state and sustainable use of our seas and oceans. As well as Ireland being a member country, the Marine Institute CEO, Dr. Paul Connolly was elected to the Bureau in October 2020.
  • The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) isthe United Nations body responsible for supporting global ocean science and services. The United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, to be held from 2021 to 2030. This Decade will provide a common framework to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries’ actions to sustainably manage the Oceans and more particularly to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Decade will provide a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to create a new foundation across the science-policy interface, to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.
  • The European Marine Board (EMB) is the leading European think tank in marine science policy. It provides a platform to advance marine research and to bridge the gap between science and policy. As well as being a member, the Marine Institute sits on the Executive Committee.
  • The Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans) is an intergovernmental platform that strives to increase the impact of national investments in marine and maritime research and innovation.
  • The European Centre for information on Marine Science and Technology (EurOcean)
    The aim of EurOcean is to facilitate information exchange and generate value-added products in the field of marine sciences and technologies between a wide range of governmental and non-governmental bodies.
  • The European Global Ocean Observing System (EuroGOOS) is an association of national governmental agencies, research organizations, and private companies, committed to oceanography within the context of the intergovernmental Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS).
  • The European Marine Research Network (EuroMarine) is a consortium of research and academic organisations and an association advancing marine science. EuroMarine aims at identifying and addressing important emerging scientific topics or issues and at fostering new services relevant to the marine scientific community.
  • The European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory (EMSO) aims to explore the oceans, to gain a better understanding of phenomena happening within and below them, and to explain the critical role that these phenomena play in the broader Earth systems.
  • Euro-Argois the European contribution to the Argo programme. Argo is an international ocean observation program that collects information from inside the ocean using a fleet of robotic instruments that drift with the ocean currents and move up and down between the surface and a mid-water level.
  • The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives. The goal of the OECD is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. Together with governments, policy makers and citizens, the OECD works on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.