The definition of EuroMarine scientific strategy and action plan is a dynamic process, which:
- builds on the legacy of the EuroMarine preparatory project (Research Strategy Report and Business Plan),
- is placed under the control of EuroMarine General Assembly, and
- adapts to the level of available yearly resources.
The preparatory project has identified three grand scientific 'challenges' - to be broadly construed - for the EuroMarine network:
- Understanding marine ecosystems for healthy oceans under global / climate change [basic science]
- Building scenarios for marine socio-ecological systems under changing oceans [governance]
- Marine science as a provider of new concepts for innovation and technology [novel ideas and innovation]
It has also identified six initial 'emerging fields' that require interactions among the three former NoE communities that EuroMarine merges:
- Intra- and inter-generational evolution and forecasting of living marine resources
- Complex interactions including tipping points, regime shifts and shifting assemblages in marine ecosystems
- Effects of global warming, ocean acidification, sea level rise and hypoxia on biodiversity and ecosystem function
- Marine rhythms of life and their alterations
- Valuation of goods and services delivered by marine ecosystems
- Restoration and conservation of sustainable marine ecosystems.
Lastly, it has recommended that EuroMarine initially focus on transdisciplinary approaches and such emerging fields in order to foster integration and benefit from joint approaches.
The EuroMarine Network has additionally adopted a few 'hot topics' when launching its first yearly call for proposals:
- Rapid changes in polar oceans
- High resolution oceanography and productivity
- Convergent approaches between biogeochemistry and genomics to better understand and model biogeochemical cycles.
In line with its bottom-up ethos and in order to favour the emergence of new ideas and approaches, the EuroMarine Network has also recognized that its yearly calls should in general be widely open in terms of topics (provided that such topics do not duplicate existing initiatives and that single organisations could not tackle them alone).
Consequently, the transdisciplinarity criteria and the above lists of emerging fields and hot topics are in no way exclusive. EuroMarine will support other ‘hot topics’ that require transdisciplinary approaches, as well as topics or issues that are key for the progress of specific disciplines.
For the development and implementation of its scientific strategy (as for the development and provision of services and its action plan in general) EuroMarine primarily relies on competitive calls for proposals. Such calls encompass a number of categories of activities (which may vary from year to year), notably including Foresight Workshops ('horizon scanning'), Working Groups, Capacity Building and Training, Conferences, Flagship Programmes. The definition and implementation of the calls are placed under the control of EuroMarine Steering Committee.