New funding opportunities for environmental projects in the South Atlantic: BEST 2.0

The European Commission has announced that in order to address the need for facilitated access to funding in the European Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), it is allocating new resources for concrete projects in the OCTs through a 5 year programme; BEST 2.0 (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in European Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories). This will mean a new source of funding that can be accessed for environmental projects within the South Atlantic Overseas Territories (OTs). The European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (EuropeAid) has two calls for proposals organised in the coming two years, with a total budget of over € 6 million for this initiative.

BEST hubs

BEST 2.0 has been born from a recognised need for current support of projects on the ground whilst a long term financial mechanism is created from the existing BEST III initiative, which began last year. The aim of the BEST III project is to support and maintain biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services, including looking at ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaption and mitigation methods. This is taking place simultaneously across all European OCTs. The South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) is the coordinator for the South Atlantic Hub, which includes Ascension Island, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia & South Sandwich Isles.

Five of the existing BEST III knowledge hubs (Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Pacific, Polar/Sub-Polar, South Atlantic) will help assure the calls are adapted to the varying conditions and situations encountered in OCTs and will provide support to local organisations for submission of proposals. Independent regional advisory committees, with experts in the relevant fields, will assess the proposals and advise a decision board.

The objective of BEST 2.0 is to empower local actors, authorities and civil society organisations in OCTs. Within the South Atlantic OTs this will involve organisations who are committed to local development, maintaining biodiversity and the sustainable use of ecosystem services. This will particularly apply to the key biodiversity areas identified through the participative Ecosystem profiles process led by the BEST knowledge hub for the region. Eligible beneficiaries will be local authorities and services, civil society organisations and stakeholders working within the South Atlantic OTs.

The first call for proposals will take place in June this year. Please regularly check this website or the BEST webpage for further information.

For more information please contact:

SAERI: Maria Taylor and Dr Paul Brickle

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Assessing the demand for science on South Georgia: consultation with Asian polar research institutes – Part 1

By Victoria Peck

The South Georgia Future Science Project is assessing the international demand for science on and around South Georgia with an aim to make recommendations on future logistics and infrastructure which could make the island and surrounding region more accessible to scientists. On February 9th Dr. Paul Brickle, Prof. John Turner and Dr. Vicky Peck flew to the Far East to begin the first phase of consultations with world renowned polar research institutes to see how South Georgia may fit into their future science strategies. First port of call was the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), in Incheon, Seoul. Although KOPRI is currently in the process of “moving house”, with much of their science becoming focussed on their newly opened base, Jang Bogo, at Terra Nova, the South Georgia Future Science team were thoroughly impressed by the consideration that KOPRI scientists put into assessing the opportunities that South Georgia may offer their science. KOPRI scientist and Head of International Cooperation Dr. Hyoung Chul Shin, recognised the considerable synergy with the science that KOPRI undertakes at King Sejong Station at the northern Antarctic Peninsula and what could be done at South Georgia, and were enthusiastic about the opportunity for comparative studies between the two locations. Extension of upper atmospheric studies and bio-logging determination of penguin foraging behaviours were just two of the possibilities that emerged in a very productive discussion session.

KOPRI_low res

The next stop for the South Georgia Future Science team was Tokyo, to meet with the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research, NIPR. Although NIPR’s Antarctic research stations are located on the East Antarctic ice sheet, their scientific outlook is wide ranging and already includes NIPR scientists actively involved in research on South Georgia. The South Georgia Future Science team were particularly interested in the thoughts of Dr. Akinori Takahashi, who has worked on South Georgia over several seasons.  Dr. Takahashi was enthusiastic about the opportunities that South Georgia presents for the study of marine mammals, seabirds and penguins, recognising the “unparalleled diversity and abundance of marine predators” and the invaluable baseline knowledge that past research on South Georgia provides to this field of research. Dr. Takahashi and terrestrial biologist Dr. Satoshi Imura were also kind enough to share their thoughts and aspirations for future research on and around South Georgia and we will be sure to use this information in our assessment of how science could be better facilitated in the future.

NIPR (2)

The South Georgia Future Science team would like to thank KOPRI and NIPR again for sharing their time, thoughts, enthusiasm and generous hospitality with us.

In our next update we will report on meetings with scientists from the Malaysian National Antarctic Research Centre and the Indian National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research.

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