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Vol. 62, n. Suppl. 3, September 2021
pp. 3-162

The Starfish Mission: an Italian perspective

AAVV; Editors: M.C. Pedicchio, A. Camerlenghi, C. Solidoro

Abstract

The European Commission has launched the ambitious European Missions project as one of the most innovative parts of the Horizon Europe Program and with the aim to contribute to the European Green Deal as well as to the Sustainable Development Goals.
The inspiration comes from the famous Apollo mission to put a man on the Moon, and bring him back safely to Earth. The EU missions' idea is similar but is tackling main European societal challenges, more precisely the following 5 challenges: fighting cancer, adapting to climate change, protecting our oceans and waters, living in greener cities and ensuring soil health and food.
The Missions' aim is to achieve a sustainable Europe for all, by translating challenges into concrete actions and results; to do that, there is the need to stimulate a collective effort, a general emotional involvement, together with multidisciplinary projects, public-private ambitious efforts and disruptive changes.
For each Mission the Commission appointed a Board of experts, coming from innovation, research, policy, civil society and relevant organizations, to prepare a proposal for the next ten years.
The "Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters" Mission is one of the five; the corresponding board is chaired by Pascal Lamy. The board has decided to rename the Mission, in a more friendly way, as "Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters".
The choice to use a starfish as symbol has various motivations: all kids know and love starfish, even if they do not live near the sea; the starfish with its five arms gives the idea of a synergic and joint approach and, finally, the starfish is a sentinel of climate change.
At the European Research & Innovation Days in September 2020, the Missions' visions and proposals were officially presented and the corresponding reports published.
For Starfish 2030, the purpose of the report is very clear: "Healthy ocean and waters are taken for granted. Yet, they are in trouble and need to be restored. We call on all European citizens and policy makers to take responsibility for protecting and regenerating rivers, lakes, seas and ocean and demand urgent systemic change from our politicians and leaders."
After an analysis of threats and risks for seas and waters and of the impact of human activities, the report proposes 5 main objectives for 2030:

  • Filling the knowledge and emotional gap,
  • Regenerating marine and freshwater ecosystems,
  • Zero pollution,
  • Decarbonising our ocean and waters,
  • Revamping governance.
These five objectives are mutually supportive and if they are tangibly obtained, the Mission Starfish 2030 will enable the restoration of the water cycle of the whole hydrosphere.



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