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Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

River-Sea Systems (RSS) - river basins and coastal waters that they influence - are of major importance for food & energy production, transport, and societal wellbeing. They face natural and anthropogenic perturbations at local, regional and global scales. European research on RSS is fragmented by discipline and geography. DANUBIUS-RI (International Centre for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems) will be a distributed research infrastructure (RI) with components in a number of European countries, building on existing expertise to support interdisciplinary research spanning the environmental, social and economic sciences. It will provide access to a range of sites, facilities and expertise, a ‘one-stop shop’ for knowledge exchange, access to harmonised data, and platform for interdisciplinary research, education and training.
DANUBIUS-PP (H2020 Grant Agreement 739562) developed the legal, financial and technical aspects of DANUBIUS-RI by:
(i) establishing political and financial commitments from countries and national stakeholders;
(ii) growing reputation and linkages within Europe and Internationally;
(iii) developing the Science and Innovation Agenda (SIA);
(iv) developing architecture of the organisational and administrative components of the RI;
(v) agreeing operational requirements of the RI and its legal identity.
"Work essential for the construction and operational phases of the RI were addressed by ten work packages (WP).
WP1 covered internal project organization and decision-making. Several bodies were established: General Assembly (GA), composed of representatives of all partners for decision making and work plan assessment; Steering Committee (SC), composed of WP leaders to assist the Project Coordinator with activities and monitoring; Scientific and Technical Advisory Board (STAB), to provide independent advice to the GA and Project Coordinator; and Board of Governmental Representatives (BGR), to provide active involvement of partners’ governments.
The Science and Innovation Agenda (SIA) was developed in WP2. Activities assessed environmental, socio-economic and policy challenges in RSS and identified knowledge gaps and research needs, based on literature review and expert consultations. The results were developed into the SIA, describing DANUBIUS-RI’s vision, mission and approach, providing a scientific framework for the RI’s initial research priorities. A new session on ""Integrative studies of the River-Sea Continuum"" was organised at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in 2018 and 2019. Stakeholder communities were engaged in a series of conferences and the SIA was presented to the final GA and Stakeholder Event.
WP3 undertook extensive analysis of the options for the legal identity as a distributed RI with components in a number of European countries. The GA selected the ERIC as the most suitable legal identity. Draft ERIC statutes were prepared by BGR, recognizing the importance of early engagement with national authorities on matters such as governance, legal aspects, financial principles, and business plan. A Letter of Intent has been requested from countries represented to confirm the intention to participate in DANUBIUS-ERIC.
WP4 developed a funding model for the RI drawing on the SIA, architecture and other information. Definition of services to be offered and needed resources was followed by evaluation of resources available or requiring additional financial contribution. The BGR adopted the funding model for DANUBIUS-RI and calculated ERIC Membership/Observership fees.
WP5 developed the architecture of the operational RI. It defined the roles of the component parts (Hub, which provides management and services; Nodes, which provide expertise in key areas; the Supersites which are natural sites of scientific and societal importance for research; Data Centre; Technology Transfer Office; e-Learning Office) and drew up criteria for internal functioning, interaction and changing or extending of these components in the future. Linkages and competences within the RI components were identified and elaborations made on technology transfer and IP, and e-infrastructure.
WP6 developed the concept of DANUBIUS Commons: a harmonised framework of common values and standards to ensure comparable, consistent quality-assured data and services. KPIs were developed to monitor performance, deliver growth, facilitate impact and address performance concerns. The DANUBIUS Commons defines effective user engagement beyond the research community, including policy and industrial stakeholders.
WP7 reviewed best-practice guidelines and methodologies for non-digital and digital samples, together with an analysis of conceptual models for data flow. Work was done on interaction with the European Copernicus programme, in terms of political linkages and technical requirements, and with EUMETSAT and other major European and International programmes. The Data Policy has been drafted.
WP8 has focused on ICT and connectivity with users. Some ICT components will be provided by existing e-Infrastructures; others will be built up. Remote access service arrangements of other RIs have been reviewed, the remote access service offers drawn up, and analysis of options for the link between the Data Centre and other components undertaken. DANUBIUS-RI e-Infrastructure will meet e-IRG recommendations.
WP9 developed an ontology, a Human Resources strategy and guidance on stakeholder engagement, including co-development of outputs and training resources. The HR strategy enables understanding of the HR issues and the significant staffing resources for a large RI. The guidance on stakeholder engagement proposes different mechanisms to connect to stakeholders in their role as co-creators of knowledge; as beneficiaries of knowledge and affected by application of knowledge. This is supplemented by a proposal and business model for co-development of innovative research products and services and a course structure and lecture material for Masters and CPD programmes.
WP10 has developed policies and tools for communication and dissemination to raise recognition of DANUBIUS-RI, introduce policy makers to the added value of the RI and the need for financial support, promote links with other initiatives, and establish stakeholder engagement. Activities have included conferences and workshops, and creation of the website. Extensive social media exposure has been achieved through Twitter and Facebook. The first stakeholder event took place in Venice in May 2017 and the second in Rome in November 2019. Linkages with other initiatives were pursued through participation in ENVRIplus activities and connection with HYDRALAB+. Videos on DANUBIUS-RI and on-line lectures were produced and are available on youtube. There were also meetings with stakeholders at national level."
DANUBIUS-RI will support a new scientific concept: excellent interdisciplinary research at RSS scale, bringing together freshwater and marine communities. A special focus is understanding processes in transitional environments. Other notable aspects are the SIA, DANUBIUS Commons, its distributed architecture, a Technology Transfer Office, and the documentation for DANUBIUS-ERIC.