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
European Committee of the Regions
rue Belliard 99-101, 1040 Brussels (Belgium)


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.

In both parts, invited EU and international leaders, in dialogue with scientists, will discuss recent developments in intergovernmental negotiations carried out in the context of the United Nations and reflect on the role of science and innovation in scaling up ambitious solutions, through notably EU policy and funding programmes. The need for a robust science/policy interface is a topical and crucial challenge that will be stressed throughout the conference.

The detailed programme of the conference will be published at the end of March 2021. Register now to receive the detailed program and all the news related to the conference.



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).

First confirmed speakers

Maria da Graca Ms Maria da Graça Carvalho
Member of the European Parliament
intervenante Ms Mariya Gabriel
European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
intervenant Prof. Eric Berton
President of Aix-Marseille University (France)
intervenant Mr Pascal Lamy
Chair of the "Starfish" Mission Board of Horizon Europe framework programme for research and innovation
intervenant Dr Vladimir Ryabinin
Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Assistant Director General of UNESCO
interventant Prof. Richard Sempéré
Director of the Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography, Marseille (France)
intervenant Prof. Dr Martin Visbeck
Head of the Physical Oceanography Research Unit, GEOMAR, Kiel (Germany)
Adelino Canario

Prof. Adelino Canario
Director of the Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve, Faro (Portugal)

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

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