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The European Marine Board is a platform of leading European marine research performing and research funding organizations established to promote enhanced cooperation in marine science at a European level.

EMB is independent, self funding (through contributions from its member organizations) and has its own secretariat located in Ostend, Belgium. EMB operates in association with the European Science Foundation (ESF).

1989 – 1995 EMB can trace its origins to the European Committee for Ocean and Polar Sciences (ECOPS), a forum of leading European marine scientists. ECOPS was established jointly by the ESF and the European Commission (DG Research) in 1989 to identify the ‘Grand Challenges’ in ocean and polar science. During discussions between ECOPS and the directors of Europe’s research institutes and funding organizations, these latter organizations, recognising the advantages of networking, decided to set up their own forum. Discussions on the establishment of this forum began in 1993.

1995 – 1998 In 1995, an offer from the European Commission to co-fund a preparatory action under the EU FP MAST Programme, with matching funds from member organizations, resulted in the setting up of the European Marine and Polar Science (EMaPS) Board. In 1998, an independent review of the EMaPS Board led to the establishment of two separate entities, the European Polar Board and the Marine Board.

1999 – Present The Marine Board has evolved into a dynamic, innovative and creative organization drawing on its membership and the wider marine science community to advance the European marine research and policy agenda and to promote the importance of science and technology in sustainable ocean development and governance. In 2007, the Marine Board relocated its Secretariat from Strasbourg to a maritime location within the aptly named InnovOcean site in city of Ostend, Belgium. The move was made possible by a generous offer from the Government of Flanders, which continues to provide invaluable support to the hosting of the Secretariat today.

The creation of expert working groups, the publication of strategic publications, the facilitation of major marine science-policy conferences (e.g. EurOCEAN conference series) have all contributed to the development of a more coordinated and integrated policy framework for marine science and ocean stewardship, contributing to societal needs.
In 2010, the Ostend Declaration, the main output of the EurOCEAN 2010 conference, facilitated by the Marine Board, provided
strategic guidance to Europe in setting the main priority areas including support for a JPI on Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans, an integrated and sustained European Ocean Observing System (EOOS) and transferring knowledge from marine research for societal benefit.

In 2013, the EMB published Navigating the Future IV, the fourth in this series of high-level marine science strategy publications. Navigating the Future IV provides a blue print for seas and oceans research addressing societal challenges including climate change, food and energy security, oceans and human health and safe and sustainable use of marine space. Navigating the Future IV brought together expert contributions from EMB members, several partner marine networks and a very large number of experts from across Europe. Launched just before the outset of the Horizon 2020 programme, Navigating the Future IV provides the most detailed set of seas and oceans science priorities to guide EU and national marine research investments over the timeframe of Horizon 2020 programme.

Also in 2013, the Marine Board changed its name to the European Marine Board (EMB), introduced a new logo and expanded its Secretariat staff members. In 2014, the EMB worked with the European Commission and the Italian Presidency of the European Union to organize the EurOCEAN 2014 conference. The conference was an event of major importance in the marine science-policy agenda and delivered high-level strategic recommendations for political support in the form of a Rome Declaration. These high-level activities are continually complemented by the work of EMB working groups delivering thematic position papers and policy briefings.

In 2015, EMB working group on deep sea research published a position paper and a policy brief, and working groups valuing marine ecosystems and marine graduate training are currently preparing publications. Two new working groups have also started, with the goal of producing a Future Science Brief.

Looking ahead, the EMB will continue to operate as the foremost platform for seas and oceans strategy and foresight in Europe. The Board has built a strong reputation through development of rigorous processes for delivering science policy advice and will continually adapt to the changing landscape for marine science policy. The EMB will work with key partner networks to advance marine science and identify emerging challenges and opportunities of societal importance.

EMB celebrated its 15th anniversary at EurOCEAN 2014 in Rome (download the event brochure). 

In 2016, the European Marine Board established its own legal organization as an international non-profit association under Belgian law, EMB-IVZW. Eight Founding Members signed the deed in the presence of a Notary Public at a dedicated founding meeting in Brussels on 20 January. EMB-IVZW became fully independent of ESF as of 1 January 2017.