The first in person meeting of the new Future Earth Coasts International Project Office (FEC IPO) was in Bremen 27-29 March 2019. It’s an exciting time to be involved in Future Earth Coasts; the organization has a new home centered at the Liebnitz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen, and additional offices distributed among several institutions in China, Australia, the United States, and Germany. (I blogged about a previous meeting in Shanghai, in October 2018, where we established these institutional partnerships).
We also have a new Executive Director, Dr. Sebastian Ferse, who has taken over the reins from Dr. Martin LeTissier at University College Cork, in Cork, Ireland, which was the previous home to the FEC IPO. Sebastian has big shoes to fill in talking over for Martin, but he’s hit the ground running, and he has other organizations to help carry on the work of the IPO, which Martin never had. I’m really proud to be the UMCES representative of this group running the FEC IPO. This is especially true after this week; we demonstrated the strength of our working relationships by making the painful but necessary decisions that led us to a more functional organization.
One of the biggest advances that we made this week was to change
our organizational structure quite dramatically (details to follow!). The
result is a nimbler, more independent organization that allows the IPO to
advance products and projects, while having significant oversight by a
distinguished advisory board of science and practice experts. This group is
shaping up to be very productive: Since November 2018, when we started working
together more formally, we’ve partnered together on two proposals: One focusing
on Coastal Sustainability that we submitted to the Belmont Forum a few weeks ago,
and another that we are drafting now that will advance coastal sustainability
on the Africa Coast. This is a good sign that it will be a productive
Other future plans include an annual FEC conference, starting with an exciting Coastal Futures Conference in Gold Coast Australia in October 2021 (watch for more details on that too!), a book on coastal sustainability, short courses and workshops on capacity development, science communication, synthesis, and ecosystem assessment. This suite of products and projects is designed to leverage the talents, capacities, and interests of the different IPO partners, grows the network of scientists and practitioners (old and new), all while building on the long history of work that FEC and LOICZ have already created. FEC is poised to have practical impact on coastal sustainability and increased capacity, but also to the way that science and practice are conducted as co-equal partners in delivering positive change.
Our hosts in Bremen were great – the ZMT facility perfect for our needs, we also were well fueled with snacks and drinks. Great appreciation goes to Sebastian for also hosting us at dinners in the historic downtown areas of Bremen for two evenings, and arranging virtual everything, and to Hannah Jansen for getting a head start as FEC Project Manager at ZMT, even before her employment began! Special thanks also to Dr. Marion Glaser, who gave several hours of her time to share her wisdom and experience with LOICZ, and especially to Prof Hildegard Westphal (ZMT Director) who gave her full support to our efforts and helped us find our course.