SEA-EU Congress in Portugal. 32 universities. 27 countries. 5 continents

prof. Paulo Águas

prof. Paulo Águas

Results of scientific research conducted during the first SEA-EU cruise, international fields of study, and an exhibition of paintings 'SEA EU by the Sea' - the SEA-EU Congress is behind us. The international conference in Algarve - co-organised by the University of Gdańsk - brought together representatives of university authorities from all over the world. HEIs leaders signed a joint Global Gateway Declaration at the end of the event.

‘32 universities, 27 countries from West and East Africa, North and South America, Asia and Europe. This is amazing, thank you all for coming,' the Rector of the University of Algarve, prof. Paulo Águas welcomed the attendees. The floor was then taken by the General Coordinator of the SEA-EU alliance, prof. Fidel Echevarría, who briefly outlined the main activities of the consortium. He paid particular attention to initiatives going beyond what was written in the project, such as the SEA-EU cruise to Cádiz. He also stressed that the primary goal of the nine partner universities is now to achieve legal status as an alliance. Prof. Fidel Echevarría's speech concluded with the announcement of a new SEA-EU promotional video.

Successes of the first phase of the SEA-EU alliance

Agata Woydmann

The series of scientific presentations began with dr hab. Agata Weydmann-Zwolicka, prof. UG. During the expedition, which lasted more than a month, water, air, soil and pollutants samples were collected at various locations along the west coast of Europe.

The scientist presented the conclusions of the research for the first time. One of the worrying results was that microplastics were found in all ten sampling sites at every depth tested. The degree of air pollution in five coastal cities was also compared: Gdańsk, Gdynia, Kiel, Cádiz, and Brest. Aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere of the four ports were found to be within the range of the standard set by the WHO. Pollution above this level was only detected in Gdynia. In conclusion, prof. Agata Weydmann-Zwolicka announced a new SEA-EU cruise from Gdańsk to Bodø, which will take place in June 2024.

Delegacja Gdańska

As part of the Science Show initiative led by Ulf Evert of Kiel University, three doctoral students talked about the topics of their PhD theses in an accessible way.

The Vice-Rector of the University of Split prof. Zoran Đogaš summarised the activities of the Blue Economy Observatory. One of these is a platform for SEA-EU researchers to help in technology transfer, collecting environmental data or sharing best research practices.

Lola Perea from the University of Cadiz spoke about the flagship project SEA-EU 2.0., which is opening joint international degree courses. Work is currently underway on four initiatives: MIPMAL, Turqooise, Sustainable Blue Economy, and Marine and Maritime Sciences & Technologies. According to the plans, the courses organised by the SEA-EU universities will start as early as the academic year 2025/26.

SEA-EU - cooperation goes beyond Europe

Pierwszy Panel

The first panel discussion focused on the main challenges facing African societies. Rectors and Vice-Rectors of African universities and a Moroccan Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation representative participated in the conversation. All these institutions are external partners of the SEA-EU alliance.

Next, partners from Asia, the Caribbean, and North and South America spoke about their regions' challenges. The panel included university representatives from the US, Canada, Paraguay, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, China, and Sri Lanka.

‘As a university leader, I particularly noted the urbanisation of our society. The coasts of the USA are very densely populated regions. The movement of people from less urbanised areas to cities requires adequate infrastructure and results in, among other things, more pollution,' recounted University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor prof. Aswani K. Volety.

Zdjęcie grupowe

The employers' perspective was presented by members of the SEA-EU Advisory Board. Representatives from ports, foundations and other workplaces discussed the competences of the future that will respond to the new challenges of our society.

How the SEA-EU alliance will respond to today's problems was discussed by representatives from all nine partner universities, as well as representatives from affiliated institutions - the Ilya Mechnikov National University in Odessa and World Maritime University in Sweden.

Panel z Rektor Zeidler

‘We need new energy, a new 'engine' to accelerate the necessary changes in our countries and universities. This means that we need excellence in education and research. We need to provide new competencies for our students. We need a new way of thinking in university management - and not only among the rector's team,' said a representative of the University of Gdańsk Vice-Rector for International Cooperation, dr hab. Anna Jurkowska-Zeidler, prof. UG.

In the final panel, representatives of Generation Z and representatives of SEA-EU universities spoke about the society of the future. The discussion on the part of the University of Gdańsk featured the Dean of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG, dr hab. Ewelina Król, prof. UG.

What changes are brought by the challenges of the future?

prof. Aneta Oniszczuk - Jastrząbek

The formal part of the event was crowned by the ceremonial signing of the Global Gateway Declaration, which, in addition to the SEA-EU partners, was also signed by representatives of the alliance's external partners. The document expresses the will of its signatories to, among other things, act according to the UN's Agenda 2030, educate new generations about the dangers of the seas and oceans, and promote a culture of international cooperation.

The second part of the SEA-EU Congress was filled with cultural events. One of them was the opening of an exhibition of paintings by the Vice-Chancellor for Information, Communication and Promotion, dr hab. inż Aneta Oniszczuk-Jastrząbek, prof. UG. The exhibition was first presented in 2022 at the University of Gdańsk Library during the inauguration of the 2022/23 academic year.

To celebrate the presentation of the first results of the SEA-EU research cruise from Gdańsk to Cádiz, an exhibition of the best photographs taken during the expedition by Marcel Jakubowski and Alan Stocki was also prepared. The photographs captured research work, beautiful views, and elements of the daily life of the crew and scientists.  

Marcel Jakubowski/ Press Office UG, photo by University of Algarve