European Conference of Aix-Marseille University: Protect our oceans, the challenge of Europe's global leadership


The interplay between ocean science, policy and society will be the topic of the 2021 European Conference of Aix-Marseille University, under the high patronage of Member of the European Parliament Maria da Graça Carvalho. Scientific Coordinator: Prof. Richard Sempéré, Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), Marseille (France).

Wednesday 16 June 2021 from 09.00 AM to 17.30 PM

Online (registration required)

The conference will be available in English and French

Understanding past, present and future human impacts on the global ocean is vital for the future of humanity. Climate change, the overexploitation of marine ecosystem services and the dispersal of contaminants have already resulted in irreversible changes, threatening marine life and beyond. There is an urgent need to fill outstanding knowledge gaps and to turn the challenges identified by the scientific community into transformative and decisive political action It is Europe's ambition to take on global leadership in tackling ocean challenges. Sustained and innovative ocean science will set the base for informed policy design and in monitoring the progress of EU initiatives. In the wake of the 2021 World Oceans Day, this conference will be a contribution to the attainment of EU Goals, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14. 

Leading scientists from Aix-Marseille University, Europe and beyond, will present their contribution along with stakeholders and EU decision-makers.

  • Tackling marine ecosystem disturbance caused by climate-change: During this sequence, scientists will review the impact of climate change on the diversity and functioning of marine species and ecosystems. Panellists will discuss the extent to which our current production and consumption systems are leading towards a sixth mass extinction, if immediate and ambitious actions are not taken.
  • The challenge of contaminant dispersal: The second session will debate the role of known and emerging contaminants in threatening marine ecosystems and food safety. Panellists will evaluate the effectiveness of past initiatives to reduce marine pollution, define critical knowledge gaps and discuss urgent policy actions to achieve a clean ocean.

The 2021 European Conference coincides with and aims to contribute to two major initiatives to strengthen the European and global ocean science community: the 2021-2030 United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and ‘Horizon Europe’, the framework-programme for research and innovation of the European Union, including its Starfish Mission for healthy oceans.

The maritime dimension of the European Union and of its Member States entails a particular responsibility for supporting the global partnership and help enhance scientific collaboration worldwide. 


BXL-Bouton agenda-EN
BRUXELLES - Bouton Agenda (UK)

Get involved by showcasing your project or your organisation in relation to the European Conference's topic. To do so, you can submit a poster by Monday 31 May 2021 by clicking on the following link:







Useful links

Online registration

This conference will be one the first contributions to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

Confirmed speakers & Coordination Team

intervenant Prof. Eric Berton
President of Aix-Marseille University (France)
Maria da Graca Ms Maria da Graça Carvalho
Member of the European Parliament
(Patron of the European Conference)
Jean-Eric PAQUET Mr Jean-Eric Paquet
Director-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
Pascal LAMY Mr Pascal Lamy
Chair of the Board of the Starfish Mission (Horizon Europe framework-programme for research and innovation)
Elisabetta BALZI Ms Elisabetta Balzi
Head of Unit “Healthy Oceans & Seas”, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
Région SUD Director representing Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur Region
Nial McDONOUGH Dr Niall McDonough
Chair of the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans)
Aodhán FITZGERALD Mr Aodhán Fitzgerald
Lead Coordinator of Eurofleets+
intervenant Dr Vladimir Ryabinin
Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Assistant Director General of UNESCO
Geneviève PONS Ms Geneviève Pons
Director General of Europe Jacques Delors
Monika VERBEEK Dr Monica Verbeek
Executive Director of Seas at Risk
Gaëlle HAUT Ms Gaëlle Haut
Representative of Surfrider Foundation Europe
Adelino Canario Prof. Adelino Canario
Director of the Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve, Faro (Portugal)
Mar BENAVIDES Dr Mar Benavides
Researcher at Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD)/Aix-Marseille University
Sophie GAMBARDELLA Dr Sophie Gambardella
CNRS Researcher at the Center for International and European Studies and Research (CERIC)/Aix-Marseille University
Geir JOHNSEN Prof. Geir Johnsen
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Jean-Marc FROMENTIN Dr Jean-Marc Fromentin
French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea (IFREMER)
intervenant Prof. Dr Martin Visbeck
Head of the Physical Oceanography Research Unit, GEOMAR, Kiel (Germany)
Philippe DELAPORTE Dr Philippe Delaporte
Vice-President for Research at Aix-Marseille University
interventant Dr Richard Sempéré
Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), Marseille (France)
Lars-Eric HEIMBÜRGER-BOAVIDA Dr Lars-Eric Heimbürger-Boavida
CNRS Researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO)/Aix-Marseille University
Eve truilhe

Dr Eve Truilhé
Director of the Centre for International and European Studies and Research (CERIC), Aix-en-Provence (France)

Pascale RICARD Dr Pascale Ricard
CNRS Researcher at the Center for International and European Studies and Research (CERIC)/Aix-Marseille University
Karl STOECKEL Mr Karl Stoeckel
EU Liaison Officer, Aix-Marseille University Brussels Office
Naoufal AOUANE Mr Naoufal Aouane
EU Deputy Liasion Officer, Aix-Marseille University Brussels Office

Partners of the European Conference

Contact information

EU Office of Aix-Marseille University (Brussels)

EU Liaison Officer

Mr Naoufal AOUANE
Deputy EU Liaison Officer


European Conference
Research and innovation
Brussels Office
Ocean science
United Nations Decade