The mission of CESAM, an Associate Laboratory of the University of Aveiro, is to develop leading international research on the environment, with a special emphasis on the coastal and marine areas, with the aim of strongly contribute to the formulation and implementation of national and European strategies for sustainable development. CESAM publishes more than 360 papers in SCI journals, per year, consolidating its reputation as an excellence-driven research unit. CESAM researchers publish in world top journals, with an impact above world averages in the respective scientific areas. Additionally, CESAM publications are the primary basis for rating the UA, amongst the Portuguese universities, with the best performance in the field of environment/ecology in the Web of Science platform.
Human activities have caused strong impacts on environmental quality, at regional and global scales, with pollution of reservoirs, degradation and loss of habitats and ecosystems, climatic changes and depletion of natural resources. As result of global changes, predictably, the Mediterranean region, including Portugal, will be one of the most negatively impacted by heat waves and droughts, in the future. Additionally, coastal countries, like Portugal, concentrate their population in coastal zones, which are undergoing serious environmental conflicts caused by anthropogenic activities. The preservation and sustainable use of coastal and marine areas is therefore fundamental for societal well-being, including human health, and economic growth. Furthermore, Portugal will probably have one of the largest extended continental shelves in Europe, offering access to the next great frontier in the exploration of the seabed, but also resulting in new responsibilities and challenges.
Within the EU priorities – Europe 2020 and its flagship initiatives ‘Innovation Union’ and ‘Resource Efficient Europe’, aligned with the commitment for an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth based on the knowledge and innovation, CESAM aim is to promote a more efficient use of terrestrial, coastal and marine (including deep-sea) environmental resources and a more competitive, resilient and sustainable economy, designed to endorse job creation and assuring the territorial and social cohesion. CESAM, based on its scientific expertise, will continue to actively contribute to the understanding, mitigation and resolution of regional and global changes and associated natural hazards, including the restoration of healthy, effectively functioning and climate change-resilient, terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Thereby, CESAM will concentrate its efforts on key priorities of the EU 2020 Research Agenda on ‘Climate Action, Sustainable Ecosystems and Environmental Resources’. The research objectives are aligned with H2020 Societal Challenges, encompassing areas where CESAM has clear scientific competences, aligned with the transfer to the market. To better implement its objectives, and based on its previous organisational experience, CESAM decided to structure its research into four transversal strategic thematic lines: ‘Marine Ecosystems & Resources’ (MER); ‘Environmental Biology & Health’ (EBH); ‘Ecology & Functional Biodiversity’ (EFB); and ‘Integrated Environmental Systems’ (IES). These thematic lines are interconnected and will be continuously fed with the contributions of the nine CESAM, speciality structured, research groups.
The aim of ‘Marine Ecosystems & Resources’ Line (coordinated by Graham Pierce) is to improve the understanding of the complex interrelations between maritime activities and the marine environment. MER will develop research focused on blue growth - the exploration, investigation and sustainable exploitation of marine resources (biological, energy and mineral), understanding how ecosystem structure and functioning support ecosystem services and how they are affected by anthropogenic pressures.
The ‘Environmental Biology & Health’ Line (coordinated by Ana Isabel Lillebø) emerges from the need to give a special attention to the link between ecosystems and human well-being. In this context, the EBH Line is focused on environmental sustainability, biological indicators of ecological/environmental quality status, human exposure to environmental hazards and human health risk assessment, and assessment of ecosystem services.
The ‘Ecology & Functional Biodiversity’ Line (coordinated by Fred Wrona) conducts research (ranging from molecules to ecosystems) that generate innovative solutions to the growing challenges associated with the environmental conservation, protection and sustainable use of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. EFB focuses on evaluating ecosystem functioning changes by increasing chemical contamination and the functional role of biodiversity on the magnitude and stability of ecosystem structure and in the provision of ecosystem services.
The Line on ‘Integrated Environmental Systems’ (coordinated by Carlos Borrego) aims to contribute to innovative products, services, models and processes that can benefit the environment by preventing and reducing pressure on natural resources and/or emissions. This line supports the implementation of European policies on environment and territorial cohesion, reinforcing the resilience to systemic risks, and strengthening the Portuguese position towards an inclusive green economy.
CESAM highlights the importance of improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and third parties, including industry, decision-making organisations and society. Due to the nature of its research, CESAM is mainly concerned about knowledge transfer to regional and national decision-makers organizations in order to actively contribute to the national sustainable development model in benefit of society and citizens. CESAM recognizes the growing importance of civil society involvement on research and education activities. In this framework, through its members, CESAM participates in numerous lectures at primary and high schools, public meetings and information forums.