Finnish Environment Institute granted EUR 4.1 million in EU research funding

News 2023-03-21 at 13:30
© Roine Piiroinen

The Finnish Environment Institute (Syke) will lead one and participate in six new Horizon Europe funded projects. This success in the 2022 application round amounts up to 4.1 million euros research and innovation funding to Syke. The GOVAQUA project coordinated by Syke develops innovative solutions for the management of water resources, enabling a green and fair transition in the use of water.

“I am happy with our success and excited about the new, strong project consortia. These EU projects showcase our excellence in solutions for marine and water ecosystems. We will also be able advance research-based tools for halting the loss of marine biodiversity and for supporting the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This research collaboration will develop and channel Syke-based researchers’ skills to the European level. At the same time it brings together international environmental policy, new kinds of information systems, and collaborative governance practices”, says Research director Eeva Primmer at the Finnish Environment institute.

GOVAQUA develops new water governance solutions

Europe is facing various water challenges ranging from water scarcity to degradation of freshwater ecosystems. Ecosystems and livelihoods face risks, spilling over to societal and economic sustainability. The Syke-led GOVAQUA project maps, develops, and validates innovative water governance solutions to tackling these challenges, and to enabling a transition to sustainable and equitable water use. The project led by Senior research scientist Suvi Sojamo is actively involved in identifying good practices in legislation, multi-stakeholder collaboration, economic and financial instruments, and digital solutions. The total budget of the four-year project is 3.5 million euros, of which the Finnish Environment Institute's share is 1.0 million.

“Our Syke team is super excited to collaborate with leading experts and key stakeholders throughout Europe. Even though water issues and their governance are always context specific, we are in many ways interdependent and can learn a lot from each other. I hope our project will build bridges between disciplines, sectors, and regions for the benefit of a more water secure future for us all”, says Suvi Sojamo. 

Syke also leads two living labs testing the innovative governance approaches and instruments on the ground. One of the labs focuses on water stewardship and innovative financing mechanisms in the Archipelago Sea Basin, the other focuses on sustainable hydropower knowledge exchange between Finland and Sweden.

A virtual research environment, EU marine governance, and sustainable freshwater aquaculture

Syke acts as a partner in the other starting research and innovation projects.

The CO-OP4CBD project aims is to enhance coordination of expert support to advance the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The project focuses especially on better utilization of knowledge and expertise. Syke leads a work package on mapping knowledge needs related to the CBD negotiations and national implementation in the EU Member States and associated countries. As a result the project will create a mechanism for easily identifying who can contribute now and in the future, to ensure long-term knowledge support for CBD.

Biodiversity loss happens also in the marine environment. The challenges in observing the changes complicates the planning of corrective measures. The goal of the OBAMA-NEXT project is to combine data coming from multiple sources into a reliable stream of knowledge to show the changes taking place in marine biodiversity and the areas where it is happening. Syke leads a work package focusing on benthic mapping together with NIVA, Norway. This work package aims at developing remote sensing and benthic habitat modelling methods, also used in VELMU (, the Finnish Inventory Programme for Marine Underwater Diversity, and at developing citizen science for biodiversity observation.

BLUE4ALL develops EU-wide expertise in the planning of marine protected areas and their networks, as well as in the management of protected areas. The project synthesizes existing knowledge and identifies the most promising methods for strengthening marine nature conservation in ways that are ecologically effective and socially acceptable, and also takes into account economic perspectives. The methods to be developed are tested and developed in 13 locations in different parts of European seas. Syke leads a work package that develops protection methods from social, societal and economic perspectives.

The overall objective ofAquaINFRA ( project is to develop a virtual environment equipped with FAIR multi-disciplinary data and services to support marine and freshwater scientists and stakeholders restoring healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters. The AquaINFRA virtual environment will enable the target stakeholders to store, share, access, analyse and process research data and other research digital objects from their own discipline, across research infrastructures, disciplines and national borders leveraging on EOSC and the other existing operational dataspaces. The main roles of Syke are to participate in the technical development and the Baltic Sea use case.

PERMAGOV ( sets out to improve the current largely fragmented EU marine governance to meet the goals and objectives established in the European Green Deal. The project is piloting a novel multi-level governance approach for various regional seas and national waters around Europe, targeting four areas of key importance to sustainable development: maritime transport, marine energy, marine life, and marine litter. SYKE's most significant role is to lead a work package that summarises policy-relevant results of the project and develops strategic solutions to solve key policy challenges.

The objective of SAFE ( project is to reduce the environmental impact and improve the viability of the freshwater aquaculture by applying circular economy approaches to the valorisation of side streams from recirculating and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture systems into fish feed components to replace fish meal and oil. SYKE’s tasks include coordination of the work package on improving waste collection and management, cultivation of microalgae for fish feed trials, assessment of benthic diatom indicator species, evaluation of environmental impacts with life cycle assessment and investigation how policy tools can support the sustainability of freshwater aquaculture systems.

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