The Atlantic Ocean borders nine ESA Member States (Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland, United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway) and one ESA Cooperating State (Canada). It is therefore a key interest for ESA to focus its space applications portfolio on the Atlantic region, including also established privileged European relations with Brazil and South Africa, and potentially strengthening partnerships with the U.S.A. and other Atlantic countries (e.g. Iceland, Morocco, Nigeria, Caribbean States, Mexico, Argentina. It is also to be highlighted that challenges faced by Atlantic Ocean indirectly impact also the other European seas (Arctic, Baltic, Mediterranean and Black sea) and the Member States bordering them.

The Atlantic Regional Initiative is therefore of global nature per se and it requires proper engagement of the relevant stakeholders and adequate strategies to address the mid to long term developments of various economic activities. There are several active fora in place to support regional approaches for managing Atlantic related activities. These fora work to address the various challenges within the regions, including sustainable management of the environment (e.g. water quality, river sediment, marine pollution, toxic waste, land degradation), urban development, economic development, resource management and cultural heritage. 

The need to embed and exploit satellite EO within these regional-level activities is a priority which require a specific focus on customised processing of the EO data, fusion of diverse datasets, modelling capabilities, outreach of EO capabilities to regional actors, etc. 

It is also recognized that recent ICT developments are enabling a step-change in the generation of EO-based information services and the fusion of EO derived information with other datasets, using various models and analytic tools. At present, the Copernicus Data and Information Access Systems (DIAS) and the ESA-funded Thematic Exploitation Platforms (TEPs) are supporting wider use of this technology, encouraging also private actors to make extensive use of them in the frame of the Atlantic Regional Initiative, in addition to other commercial and institutional/academic innovative capabilities.

Image: Mr. José Maria Costa, president and Ms. Tamara Espiñeira, Secretary-General of the Atlantic Cities

An initial group of key stakeholders for the Atlantic Regional Initiative have been identified and engaged by the EO team, in order to identify user needs, priorities and synergies among the many actors which are involved in the sustainable socio-economic development of the Atlantic region. 

Atlantic Cities, as the unique urban forum of the region, is among these thirteen entities. Its contribution, drafted by its Secretary-general, Ms. Tamara Espiñeira, is based on the philosophy of this twenty-year-old network, summed up by the words of the first Secretary-General, Mr. Xavier Gizard:  

“The Atlantic cause must be, before anything else, a voluntary action to transform a geography, the geography of Western Europe, in an economic unit and a human set.” 

In the preparing seminar that took place in Southampton last January, Ms. Espiñeira spoke about the common urban challenges for in the region, such as specific effects of climate change, a changing demography, a complex geographical position and a lack of contactability beween nodal points.  

Further Information and Links:  

  • Atlantic Regional Initiative: 

  • European Spatial Agency: 

  • Atlantic Cities: