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Confronting the global issue of ocean plastic: interactive science exhibition in Ottawa is open until 12 August

09-07-2018 09:08 AM CET | Energy & Environment

Press release from: Horizon 2020 Open to the World

Approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year; the equivalent of 310 000 shipping containers, or a truckload of trash every minute. Images of plastic bags entangling sea turtles and PVC bottles littering our beaches are just the tip of the iceberg, as ocean currents transport this plastic to every corner of our planet.

To highlight the scale of plastic waste in our oceans, and the latest scientific innovations to tackle this global challenge, a traveling exhibition from the Ocean Plastics Lab (OPL) was opened to the public on 31 July outside the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Visitors were able to view the exhibition, which was free of charge, until 12 August 2018.

The mobile outdoor exhibition is a ‘hands-on’ science lab, housed within 4 shipping containers. It invites visitors to assume the role of scientists and explore the extent and impact of plastics in the ocean through a series of installations, animations and interactive content. The Lab then shows visitors how to become ‘part of the solution’ by making informed decisions and lifestyle choices that reduce unnecessary plastic consumption.

The OPL was started by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and is supported by international partners like the Government of Canada and the European Commission, which also funds international research cooperation through ‘Horizon 2020’, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The exhibition showcases a number of these international research projects funded under Horizon 2020, which bring together researchers from around the world to work on the issue of ocean plastics.

EU-Canada projects under Horizon 2020 support the health of our oceans

The European Union and Canada have a long history of science and policy cooperation, and both regions are committed to working together to protect our oceans and planet. Many successful EU-Canadian research endeavours have been made possible by Horizon 2020, such as the establishment of the INTERACT Arctic stations network, made up of 77 research stations from 17 countries, which hosts about 5000 researchers a year.

Another example in the field of ‘Blue Growth[1]’ – sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sectors – is the SponGES project, where EU, Canadian and US scientists are researching deep-sea sponges to better understand their role in recycling the ocean’s waste, and how we can contribute to their preservation. Further successful collaborations include: INTAROS (the Integrated Arctic Observation System); AtlantOS (optimising and enhancing the Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System); and DiscardLess (Researchers and maritime stakeholders working together to reduce discards in trans-Atlantic fisheries).

With the launch of the new Horizon 2020 Work Programme last October, another $46 billion[2] in funding for international research cooperation is available for researchers from all over the world. This funding will most certainly benefit the ‘blue’ economy, a field that represents millions of jobs, generates a gross added value of almost $776 billion a year in the EU, and represents approximately $44 billion gross added value per year in Canada[3].

– – –

Timeline of EU-Canada scientific cooperation

Formal links in scientific cooperation between the EU and Canada date back to 1996, when the first ‘Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Canada and the European Community’ was signed. This was strengthened in recent years by both the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) in 2016 and the provisional entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) in 2017.

In 2013, Canada, the EU and the US also signed the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation[4] in which they agreed to strengthen cooperation in marine research and to promote ocean literacy by ‘show[ing] how results of ocean science and observation address pressing issues facing ... citizens, the environment and the world...‘

Through these agreements, the EU and Canada have made great strides towards enhancing economic and political relations and have strengthened cooperation and dialogue across a range of policy areas, including science and innovation.



[2] Canadian Dollar



Horizon 2020: Open to the World

Horizon 2020 is the largest multinational programme dedicated to research and innovation and it is ‘Open to the World.’ This means that researchers, universities, research organisations or companies from across the globe can apply to participate in the activities of the Work Programme carried out mainly through calls for proposals. The Work Programme for 2018-2020 represents a major investment of $46 billion, with more than 600 calls for proposals, including a list of 30 international flagship initiatives in areas of mutual benefit.

Press contact:

Delegation of the European Union to Canada – Diodora Bucur, Press Officer
150 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1900,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K2P 1P1
Tel.: (+1) 613 563 6354

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