Mission Starfish - restore the health of our ocean and waters by 2030

Horizon Europe will incorporate, as a new element, research and innovation missions. One of the five mission areas is 'restore our ocean and waters by 2030', also referred to as 'Mission Starfish'. This mission area will support actions that address the water system as a whole, with measurable and quantifiable goals for restoring ecosystems and biodiversity, zero pollution, decarbonisation and emissions reductions. 

Following the interim report published on 25 June 2020, the Mission was launched and the implementation plan was published alongside this factsheet in September 2021. The plan lays out that the Mission will have been accomplished when quantifiable and measurable goals of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, the EU Action Plan Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Soil and Water and the EU Climate Law have been reached.

Main elements of Starfish mission lighthouses


The Mission will strive to reach these goals by deploying innovative solutions at basin scale, with each basin focusing on a particular area in the developing and piloting phase (2021-2025). The Mission lighthouses are: 

  1. Danube river basin: protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity (freshwater)
  2. Atlantic and Arctic coast: protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity (marine)
  3. Mediterranean Sea: prevent and eliminate pollution 
  4. Baltic and North Sea basin: make the blue economy carbon-neutral.

Phase two (2026 - 2030) will focus on deployment and upscaling, with the replication of pilot activities. The scale-up actions would be carried out through annual calls for expressions of interest from 2025 onwards to macroregions, regions and communities looking to become Mission scale-up sites.

ERRIN report on dialogue with EC on Mission Starfish

Following the ERRIN - European Commission dialogue on the role of regions in the area-based lighthouses in Mission Starfish, a report of the discussion with examples from ERRIN members and ERRIN's key messages and outcomes from the meeting has been produced.

ERRIN input

The governance of our oceans and waters is a fragmented framework spread over all levels – from international to local. Regional and local authorities and stakeholders will be an important player in the development and steering to create more coherence and efficient cooperation both in terms of investments and research and innovation agendas.

In July 2020, the Blue Growth WG organised a webinar to discuss the development of the mission on healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters with the European Commission and a member of the Mission Board.

Building on this, in June 2021 ERRIN’s Blue Growth Working Group organised a dialogue together with the Mission Starfish Secretariat focusing on the area-based lighthouses proposed in the Mission. It was an opportunity for ERRIN members to come together with those working on the Mission and its implementation plan to discuss potential lighthouse activities, scale and governance. During the meeting, inspiring examples were presented from ERRIN members including WaterCampus Leeuwarden, North Norway, Mid-Norway, Turku Southwest Finland, Welsh Higher Education, Emilia Romagna and South Denmark. We also counted on colleagues from JPI Water, where ERRIN sits on the Stakeholder Advisory Board, for their support and contribution during the meeting.

A report on the dialogue is available to read here and includes ERRIN's key messages on the scale, scope, governance and synergies of the area-based lighthouses within Mission Starfish. ERRIN looks forward to a continued dialogue involving even more members on this Mission in the coming months.

Latest Updates

  • By Ewa Chomicz

Largest public consultation on Horizon programmes 2014-2027 now open

The Commission has launched the largest public consultation ever held on the past, present and future of the European Research & Innovation Framework Programmes 2014-2027. Stakeholders are invited to share their views on the performance of Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe, as well as shaping the strategic orientations for the Horizon Europe Strategic Plan 2025-2027. The consultation will stay open for 12 weeks, closing in February 2023.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

New members of the EU Missions Boards announced

Yesterday the European Commission announced 75 new top experts who will advise on the five EU Missions through serving on their Boards. ERRIN is thrilled that Françoise Guaspare from Île-de-France Europe, one of the Transport Working Group leaders, will join the Mission Board of the Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities Mission.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

ERRIN autumn perspectives: R&I policy outlook

The first half of 2022 offered several key policy developments. To kick off the autumn, we propose a short outlook of what will keep ERRIN busy when it comes to the R&I policy perspective.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

ERRIN input to call for evidence for Horizon Europe interim evaluation

ERRIN has submitted its messages in response to the European Commission's call for evidence for the Horizon Europe programme interim evaluation.

  • By Hilary Webb

ERRIN messages on Horizon Europe Missions Work Programmes 2023-2024

In the context of the Horizon Europe Missions Work Programme 2023-2024 that is currently underway at the European Commission, ERRIN is pleased to share its messages on the Mission work programmes for 2023-2024 and the involvement of regional actors within the Missions.

  • By Hilary Webb

Survey on RIS3 synergies with EU Mission Restore our Ocean & Waters

As part of a baseline study, a survey focussing on Smart Specialisation Strategies is now open, with the purpose of identifying potential synergies between RIS3 and the Ocean and Waters Mission objectives.