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Science for Good Environmental Status

The Knowledge Hub constitutes a multi-national expert group that coordinates research and innovation to enable countries to assess and achieve Good Environmental Status.


The Knowledge Hub Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES) aims to contribute to a better understanding and achievement of Good Environmental Status (GES) in support of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).






    Nov 2019 - Nov 2024

    Type of action

    Knowledge Hub

    Lead country


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    The Knowledge Hub Science for Good Environmental Status (S4GES) aims to contribute to a better understanding and achievement of GES in support of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The action explores new approaches to determine GES and provides efficient and effective observational strategies to Member States. 

    In 2022, the Knowledge Hub focused on an expedition by four scientific teams onboard the Research Vessel Belgica. The expedition aimed to assess the marine environmental status by integrating physical, chemical and biological information from an area of the North Sea.

    In June 2023, preliminary results from the data analysis of the S4GES campaign on the RV Belgica were presented at the workshop "Science to Policy: Appraising Concepts for the Marine Good Environmental Status" in Malta. Scientific teams showcased the process-based approach adopted in the campaign and presented the state-of-the-art: trophic webs, e-DNA, and contaminants. The workshop provided a platform for scientists, relevant authorities, regional conventions, the EU Commission, and Parliament to promote knowledge-based support for policy and contribute to interpreting GES.


    Achieving GES is a long-term and challenging task that requires international coordination, which the JPI Oceans Joint Action facilitates. The Knowledge Hub mainly focuses on questions where science can make the assessment process efficient. Furthermore, after more than ten years of initiatives in support of the MSFD, the Knowledge Hub attempts to provide refreshed, more integrative perspectives. 


    The Joint Action is establishing three main lines of activities: i) Knowledge sharing towards the determination of GES through a series of workshops; ii) Joint integrated monitoring approaches that will take advantage of all state-of-the-art techniques and existing infrastructures; and iii) Testbeds and augmented observatories to establish a new infrastructure for near real-time monitoring at sea.  

    Knowledge sharing

    A series of scientific expert workshops are organised for sharing new knowledge and its practical understanding, conceptual approaches, and identification of needs and clues as a structured learning process to support “the official Task Groups”, the Marine Strategy Competence Centre and in general, the entire community working and addressing the MSFD.

    Joint integrated monitoring approaches

    The proposed integrated monitoring approaches should include shared, trans-disciplinary monitoring platforms and expertise. These must be linked to integrated methodologies and the development of technologies for monitoring relationships of biological (e.g., omics), biogeochemical, and physical processes to support a common approach, synergies, and complementarity of efforts. The scope of all this is to achieve harmonised, wide-regional, innovative, cost-efficient, and practical assessment schemes of GES, in particular, from the synergy of modelling, satellite, and in situ products. The role of joint integrated observation approaches as a part of the more expansive European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) will be considered to meet evolving ocean observation needs. 

    In this context, joint observational campaigns and shared infrastructure will be explored, too. 

    Towards augmented observatories

    Augmented observatories should be conceived as integrated observation, monitoring and experimentation infrastructures. The key elements include autonomy, automation, multidisciplinary measurements, high-resolution data collection, and real-time or near-real-time communication with the mainland base station. Furthermore, the observatory ideally allows a multi-platform, adaptive sampling strategy. 

    These new approaches and a unified perspective on specific and crucial indicators offer an unparalleled chance to comprehend the marine ecosystem. The way forward is to set up testbeds that handle different aspects of the tasks and are conceived within the broader strategy of the ultimate augmented observatory. The ultimate goal is to better understand changes in the marine ecosystem through science-based novel approaches.

    Why is this important?

    The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the current regulatory European Union framework that promotes actions for environmental assessments, defines environmental targets and sets programmes of monitoring and measures, with the overall objective of maintaining or restoring GES of European Seas and their resources.  

    The initial assessment and reports of Member States on the environmental status in the first implementation cycle until 2020 have shown the necessity to significantly improve the quality and coherence of the determination of GES by the Member States. Furthermore, the Commission recognised that criteria and methodological standards on GES of marine waters and specifications and standardised methods for monitoring and assessment should be based on the best available science. The Knowledge Hub will contribute to these requirements through its transnational coordination of capacities and expertise.