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

Implementation


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.

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