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EU-PolarNet Report Summary

Project ID: 652641

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EU-PolarNet (Connecting Science with Society)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The rapid changes occurring in the Polar Regions are significantly influencing global climate with consequences for global society. European polar research has contributed critical knowledge to identifying the processes behind these rapid changes, but datasets from the Polar Regions are still insufficient to fully understand and more effectively predict the effects of change on our climate and society. This situation can only be improved by a more holistic integrated scientific approach, a higher degree of coordination of polar research and closer cooperation with all relevant actors on an international level. Polar issues have been rising up the political agenda across Europe over the past decade. The increasing level of investment now being made by governments is a clear demonstration of how critical polar research outcomes are for informing policy objectives, including those relating to climate change, energy security, global food security, innovation and economic growth.
The overall objective of EU-PolarNet are to establish an on-going dialogue between policy-makers, business and industry leaders, local communities and scientists to increase mutual understanding and identify new ways of working that will deliver economic and societal benefits. The results of this dialogue will be brought together in an Integrated European Research Programme that will be co-designed with all relevant stakeholders and coordinated with the activities of polar research nations beyond Europe. This programme will be accompanied by a feasible implementation plan to provide Europe with the capability to define the nature of environmental risks so that governments can design policy measures to mitigate them and businesses and other stakeholders benefit from the opportunities that are opening up in the Polar Regions.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

EU-PolarNet has divided its work plan into three phases to achieve its goals. The first reporting period was devoted to finalise phase 1, which should provide the project partners with the necessary background information to enter into the stakeholder dialogue and strategic research planning process. This is the main work plan for phase 2, which will be a topic of the second periodic technical report.
The work performed in phase 1 consisted of:
1) the consolidation of knowledge of the current European and international polar research landscape by compiling available information from ongoing research planning initiatives such as ICARP III and SCAR Horizon Scan and national research plans (WP2),
2) the compilation of all available types of polar infrastructures, facilities and large instruments (WP3),
3) the identification of stakeholders (WP4) and
4) the identification of relevant international partners (WP1).
This compilation of background knowledge in phase 1 was officially finalised and the stakeholder dialogue officially started with the First EU-PolarNet Town Hall event (Milestone M1). The event took place 27th September in Brussels. 110 representatives of all key scientific and stakeholder communities, including indigenous communities and local and regional governments attended and discussed the event theme “Towards the 1.5C climate goal – Perspectives from the Polar Regions”.

The main results which have been achieved so far are:
- The key questions in European polar research have been compiled and a prioritisation of these questions (D2.1) has been performed,
- An inventory of existing monitoring and modelling programmes (D2.3), which identified 670 monitoring / observational sites and 32 modelling programmes for the Polar Regions, has been develope,
- A European polar infrastructure catalogue which provides all necessary information on Europe´s capacities to support polar science (D3.2) has been compiled. A GIS-based infrastructure database, which will be continuously updated will be implemented by the end of 2016.
- A survey of the existing European polar research data systems and infrastructures, including their architectures, standards, good practice baselines, policies and scope has been performed by an online questionnaire and an inventory has been published (D3.1).
- A stakeholder mapping has been performed and a compilation of potential stakeholders has been published in D4.5. The stakeholder map identifies those stakeholders who are most important for research in the polar areas.
- An international cooperation strategy for European polar science has been published (D1.6) including an identification of the most important international partners for the European polar community.
- Six workshops and a Town Hall meeting to promote a dialogue between, the international polar science community and relevant stakeholders, have been organised and documented. These workshops have been organised as side events to major conferences. Stakeholders.
- An Advisory Panel of Experts (D1.5) for evidence-based policy and business guidance and fast response on political questions addressing the Polar Regions has been implemented. EUPolarNeT provided advice and recommendations to several requests from the EC, among them the preparation of the new Arctic Strategy, the Arctic Observing Summit in Fairbanks, March 2016, and the Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting in Washington, 28 September 2016.
- A virtual interaction platform at the EU-PolarNet website and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube) for information exchange and discussion of scientific questions has been established. An online consultation of the scientific community on D2.1 received 236 contributions.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"EU-PolarNet made substantial progress in "increasing the scale and ambition of polar research cooperation in Europe". The establishment of the European polar priorities by high-level experts mobilised a large part of the scientific community from EU countries and is a very good example of an improvement of polar research cooperation. The range of national and international connections that have been facilitated by the EU-PolarNet consortium through its first successful Town Hall meeting and its virtual tools (e.g. Newsletter, YouTube, Twitter) already increased the scale and ambition of polar research cooperation in Europe and beyond.
The establishment of the infrastructure catalogue and its associated database is a vital first step in achieving an "increase in the coherent and efficient use of European resources". It is the prerequisite for all other works planned in relation to optimise the use of European resources. The final aim is to agree a “one-stop shop” - the European Network of Polar Operations - so that scientists could easily discover how to access polar research infrastructure not just in their own country, but across Europe and associated partners.
EU-PolarNet contributed to “improving global cooperation” by developing strong links to all relevant international and European organisations and networks engaged in the Polar Regions and by continuously developing new partnerships. Being a partner of the EC-Canada-US working group on the Implementation of the Transatlantic Research Alliance, it works intensively with Transatlantic partners and the EC to define and implement research topics of joint interest.
Data management is recognized as a priority area for polar science. A stated goal of the SAON initiative is that users should have access to free, open and high quality data that will realise pan-Arctic and global value-added services and provide societal benefits. EU-PolarNet Task 3.3 directly addresses the impact entitled “Induce a step change in the domain of open data access, quality control and interoperability” and also to “Increase the coherent and efficient use of European resources”. The work carried out so far is part of the preparatory work, which required establishing “a clearer picture of existing European polar data management structures”.
EU-PolarNet contributed to "policy advice at national and EU level" by answering several requests from the EC and supporting them e.g. in the preparation of new Arctic Strategy and the Arctic Science Ministerial Meeting in Washington, 28 September 2016. EU-PolarNet implemented a Policy Guidance Panel consisting of experts from the economic, scientific and societal sectors. They will provide evidence-based advice through EU-PolarNet."

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