Messages from Key Note Speakers

Key note addresses were delivered at the 2018 ORCA meeting from a cross-section of international and national partners who each reinforced the need, value and importance of collaborating to meet societal challenges within the oceans domain. Messaging from the key note speakers described factors that, based on their experience and perspective, would create a culture of successful collaboration.

Representing the Office of the European Union’s Research and Innovation Directorate, Ms. Sigi Gruber spoke of the need to develop new partnerships that are based on trust, respect and the common belief that collaboration will achieve much more than by working individually. Ms. Gruber cited the Galway Statement that was signed in May 2013 between the European Union, the United States of America (USA) and Canada as an excellent example of collaboration that met all of these factors. The Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation launched the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) with the goal to work together in order to better understand and increase our knowledge of the Atlantic Ocean and its dynamic systems, and to promote the sustainable management of its resources. The achievements that have been reached over the past five years on AORA were described as outstanding and represent a new era on trans-Atlantic collaboration where individuals work openly together to reach solutions. In the past five years, over twenty scientific projects, have been funded under AORA bringing together research teams with individuals from across Europe, USA and Canada.

Mr. Craig McLean, Acting Chief Scientist of the USA National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) acknowledged the outstanding progress that has been achieved under the trans-Atlantic collaboration of AORA and also drew parallels on the benefits of collaboration at the bi-national level. He stated that Canada and the USA share many similarities and that the two countries have successfully collaborated to address ocean challenges such as the protection of the North Atlantic Right Whale and also on the seafloor mapping work under the United Nations Law of the Sea. In these instances, Canadian and American scientists have worked side-by-side to understand the science and develop management solutions. Mr. McLean emphasized the different roles of academic and government science, and encouraged the value in reaching out and engaging with scientific partners from industry, communities and not-for-profit sectors. The importance of engaging with early career scientists was also reinforced as a means to bring in new scientific knowledge and vision. He stated that collaboration across all of the above scientific sectors was necessary to address the challenges that are facing society today.

Ms. Gruber also spoke on the emerging global challenge of ocean plastics, and specifically micro-plastics, as an example of a societal challenge that will need global collaboration to both successfully understand the science and develop local and global responses. The EUs mission-driven approach to a future plastic-free ocean will be a collaborative approach co-designed with multiple partners ranging from municipalities, regional and national governments, academia and private sector – all working together to understand and solve the challenge. The ultimate goal is for a new generation of sustainability where partners work openly together to develop common solutions.

Mr. McLean concluded by reminding participants that during the next two days of ORCA discussions, participants should be conscious to define and understand not only their own specific individual role in addressing ocean challenges but to also consider relations with others as future partners. He stated that we need to recognize the different purposes and mandates that partners bring to discussions. The diversity in partners enriches the scientific collaboration that is developed and this successful collaboration will address global ocean challenges.

Dr. Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director of Students on Ice, delivered a key note address on oceans and ocean education. He referenced that our planet should really be called “Planet Ocean” given that over than 70% of the planet is covered by oceans that are all inter-connected into one global ocean. Dr. Green said that an oceans-centric society needs to be developed and that a key step in this direction is education. The education of youth has been the focus of Students on Ice since its formation in 1999. Over the past years, more than 3,200 youth from 55 countries have been engaged in ocean education focusing on the polar regions of the globe.

Dr. Green highlighted the very successful Canada C3, a signature event of the Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 that was led by Students on Ice. Canada C3 was a 150 day expedition from Toronto to Victoria via the Northwest Passage that inspired a deeper understanding of Canada. It was described as a journey of sharing, learning, building trust and developing relationships – all key factors in successful collaboration efforts.

Mr. Natan Obed, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) spoke on the value of working closely with Canada’s Inuit in the conduct of research in northern regions. The ITK is the national body of more than 60,000 Inuit living in fifty-three communities across the northern reaches of Canada. Mr. Obed stated that the Inuit are a marine people with all their communities, except for two, located on the coast. Living on the margins of the northern seas, Inuit are experts on oceans as well as sea ice. Mr. Obed highlighted the development of the National Inuit Strategy on Research that was released earlier in 2018, targeting governments and research institutions. The Strategy identifies areas of partnership and action that can strengthen the impact and effectiveness of Inuit Nunangat research for Inuit. A key factor in the conduct of research is the recognition that all individuals, including scientists, bring different perspectives and that a wide diversity of perspectives is valuable and important. Mr. Obed emphasized that research in Canada’s northern regions – both the identification of research priorities and the conduct of the research work – needs to include Inuit communities. Successful collaboration with Inuit will make outcomes more positive and rewarding for all involved partners. Mr. Obed stated that we all have different views and that there is not a right nor a wrong view - but that the diversity of views is most important in working successfully in collaborative efforts.

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