The key-goal of FUTURE-OBS is to develop a “systems” approach for multi-scale and multidisciplinary observation of coastal socio-ecosystems. Work will focus on environmentally sensitive areas, such as vulnerable maritime façades (English Channel and north-western Mediterranean), marine protected areas and aquaculture zones.
The livelihoods of more than 3 billion people depend on marine coastal ecosystems, but pressures driven by human activities and climate change increasingly threaten the sustainability and resilience of these tightly interdependent socio-economic and environmental ecosystems. Long- term observation of coastal environments, biodiversity and associated socio-economic uses is absolutely critical for understanding the functioning and dynamics of such socio-ecosystems, risk management, and for evaluating the relevance of public policies. Despite significant progress in observation efforts over recent decades, particularly for physico- chemical and biogeochemical variables, sectorial fragmentation has precluded the development of the systemic-thinking and holistic analysis that is essential to fully understanding the complexity of coastal socio-ecosystems. In addition to traditional approaches, new techniques and capabilities such as environmental genomics and in situ imaging, as well as the crowd-sourcing potential of social media, are breaking new ground and leading to the implementation of more agile and innovative “augmented observatories”. The roll-out of this more socially responsive and integrative approach will lead to development of new indicators to track and understand the healthy functioning and change trajectories of coastal ecosystems, and will greatly facilitate the implementation of eco- responsible sustainable development initiatives designed to address major environmental issues. The key-goal of the FUTURE-OBS project is to develop systems-thinking based targeted strategies for multi-scale and multidisciplinary observation of coastal socio-ecosystems. Work will focus first on environmentally sensitive areas, such as vulnerable maritime façades (English Channel and north-western Mediterranean), marine protected areas and aquaculture zones, which will act as demonstrators and use cases. The holistic approach driven by FUTURE-OBS will bring together scientific experts from distinct fields such as oceanography, ecology, economics and social sciences, along with public and private sector stakeholders, decision-makers and bodies representing citizens, to identify priorities and ensure a broader uptake of the solutions produced. The development and deployment of data-intensive approaches for observing biodiversity and societal uses will produce a massive quantity of new and heterogeneous data. FUTURE-OBS will include an in-depth strategic reflection on how best to structure, make accessible, and maintain new and existing data in-line with the FAIR principles. This conceptual design phase is essential to guarantee the optimal exploitation of multi-scale and multi-source marine data and will serve as a basis for selecting new thematic and integrated indicators. The routine use of interoperable, data- intensive approaches will enable the introduction of new artificial intelligence tools and machine learning capabilities in this field. The FUTURE-OBS consortium includes all of the major national institutions involved in the observation of coastal socio-ecosystems (IFREMER, CNRS, Network of Marine Universities, French Office for Biodiversity). FUTURE-OBS will actively strengthen relations between these scientific communities and national and European research infrastructures (ILICO, EMBRC), and data service platforms (Data-Terra, PNDB, IFB, EOSC). Through integrative and interdisciplinary research, it will propose innovative and sustainable solutions along with co-designed regulatory frameworks supporting the operational implementation of augmented observatories by 2030, capable of analysing and predicting socio-ecosystem trajectories in the face of environmental change. FUTURE-OBS will represent France in international bodies, in particular by participating in Mission Ocean calls under Horizon Europe and in response to the challenges set during the United Nations Decade for Ocean Sciences.