The first workshop about Research Infrastructures (RIs) and Observatories interconnections and their link to policy making took place online on the 5th of June. The event gathered experts from the research, policy and funding organizations sectors.
The aim of this workshop was to hold a discussion with representatives of the three sectors about the current state and expectations regarding the collaboration among RIs and Observatories, as well as their interface to policy making areas.
The present situation, on EU level, was well described by the keynote speaker, Mr Gert Verreet, vice-chair of the ESFRI Environment WG, who gave an overview of the active RIs networks in the broader sector of the Hydroshere. The sad realization is that there are no significant networks in the freshwater domain, strictly speaking. DANUBIUS-RI being the most relevant case study, just recently started to activate some of its operations. Furthermore, excluding the traditional RIs, the new Observatories and Water-Oriented Living Labs (WOLLs) create a broader scope of possibilities that need a new landscape analysis.
National efforts in RIs networks were then presented by Cecilia Di Carlo (MUR-Italy), Marta F. Rodrigues (LNEC-Portugal) and Isabelle Braud (OZCAR-France).
During the break-out sessions, participants had the opportunity to present their views on the current state and challenges concerning the integration of RIs at national and European levels, as well as on strategies and incentives that can be employed to ensure their seamless integration.
A major challenge acknowledged by participants was the data domain. There is a need for data quality assurance and most importantly for international standards regarding data harmonization and their FAIR policy implementation. A common challenge is the funding that can be either inadequate, not well coordinated or even badly managed when there is no alignment between RIs and policy makers/ FOs. Other challenges pointed out by participants concerns the sustainability of the RIs, the capacity of these tools to respond to stakeholders’ needs, their lack of visibility to the broad community, and their interoperability. Interoperability is a far more complex concept than interconnection, requiring, among others, the establishment of protocols, the alignment of priorities on a higher policy-making level, governance tools, the identification of common research areas, and data-sharing.
Finally, participants were asked to identify issues where Water4All can contribute, considering that many of these areas are already in the SRIA. A representative example is the Internationalization pillar, dealing with international MoUs and agreements, that is well set up to enhance collaboration and synergies in common scientific areas. Another example is the capacity building and young researchers support in various sectors, such as IT developments, scientific mediation, data sharing and standardization. Water4All should also play a role in building bridges of knowledge among all stakeholder sectors.