|Name: Isa Woulfe|
|Profession: AORA-CSA / Marine Institute|
Margaret Rae, Director of AORA-CSA, reflects on the success of the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum held in Brussels from 6-7 February 2020.
The All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum was a huge success. How are you feeling about the way the event unfolded?
I'm delighted! It has been five years in the making and a great success, but there is so much more yet to come. It has been wonderful building up to this point, and it will certainly expand from here.
We have delivered so much through social outreach, public campaigns and compiling roadmaps for many different areas including Seabed Mapping, Aquaculture, Ocean Literacy Engagement as well as for the Atlantic Youth. It has been a really tremendous culmination of all our work – a truly great result.
Craig McLean stated that the Galway Statementand what evolved out of it - can be used as a best-practice model for the All-Atlantic Cooperation. That is some statement. What are your thoughts on this?
It certainly is. The Galway Statement was signed back in 2013 between Canada, the EU and the US. This marked a huge departure and for the first time, instead of having bilateral relations in terms of water and the ocean, we had three large jurisdictions all coming together to say that they believe in the Atlantic’s importance to our communities and economies and to address questions around what can be done together to tackle the big changes and challenges in the Atlantic. By coming together, they created this model which became the inspiration for the BelémStatement between the EU, Brazil, and South Africa, and now more and more countries are interested in joining in.
By coming together, we acknowledge that we all share a coastline. The Atlantic is so accessible to us and there are so many other challenges out there. For instance, the Arctic is melting but not all of us are actually connected to that. So, in a sense, the Atlantic and its accessibility makes everything much more doable. People can relate to it and can change their behaviours, because they feel a part of it. It is so close to us. Many other countries all around the globe are interested in creating a global ocean, and through the IOC, UNESCO and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, we hope to see this happen.
In your career, what sort of punctuation does this kind of project give you?
I suppose just working on something that was radically new, with such huge expectations and challenges. It has not been without its headaches and many hours spent puzzling over what is the best way to go about it. It has challenged me in so many different ways and has thereby helped me develop a well-rounded set of skills. I am really, really happy with that. It has pushed me beyond my comfort zone.
There are still many ocean challenges to solve. How do you see yourself being part of solutions?
Having had this large exposure to so many different countries, cultures and different ways of working, and finding the right mechanisms that worked for everyone, I now have a very good idea of how to do things really well and am looking for new challenges to solve in the Atlantic.
Everybody was incredibly proud of the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors and there is no doubt that they have a passion and a connectedness that gives us hope for the Youth and their role in the Atlantic. What do you think they are going to bring to the All-Atlantic problem and what answers can they bring?
The All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassadors are young, creative, energetic and passionate about what they want to achieve. When we met them at the Summer School in Galway last year, it quickly became apparent that we had a highly intelligent group of young people with a passion to make a difference. They wanted to act for change and in so doing have developed an incredible program. Their influence is already visible as was marked by the standing ovation they received at the forum. The ripple effect of their great work is already going out, and many more connections have been made for them during their time in Brussels. There is no doubt that their campaigns will be incredibly successful. We are now talking about literally saving the Atlantic in terms of protecting it and predicting challenges to ensure that we have an ocean for the future that works for everyone.
It is a huge achievement for you, and all involved, to have an EU Commissioner backing the Youth Ambassadors and their program. How do you feel about this?
It is great to get the political backing. The resources and funds that will come from this, will help support these young people in their endeavours, making it a lot easier for them to achieve those really high expectations that they have for themselves in changing behaviour all along the Atlantic.
Note Margaret Rae and Sofia Cordero participated in a Joint SessionResults and progress from the Coordination and Support Horizon 2020 funded projects AORAC-SA & AANChORat the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum
- Click on the link below for a recording and locate Feedback from side events of 5 February - Results and progress from the Coordination and Support Horizon 2020 funded projects AORAC-SA & AANChORto hear from Margaret Rae and Sofia Cordeiro :