H2O-People win AquaticPollutants TransNET’s Science Communication Innovation Challenge

Our Science Communication Innovation Challenge is over and the winners have been announced: The organisation H2O-People won with the idea of combining a social media campaign with a school project for the EU Naomi Timmer of H2O-People. @H2O-Peopleproject iMERMAID. The aim is to inform the local population in the Mediterranean region about the toxic chemical pollution of the sea and thus ensure that the use of these chemicals is reduced in the long term.

The pollution of water resources by human activities is one of the biggest concerns facing the world today. Last year, the AquaticPollutants Innovation Challenge on Science Communication offered all interested parties the opportunity to submit their ideas on improved knowledge transfer from a scientific project to targeted stakeholders on the topic of aquatic pollutants. These pollutants include contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), such as antibiotics or PFAS, as well as harmful microorganisms and antibiotic resistant bacteria or antibiotic resistance genes.

To successfully address CECs, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and pathogens, the results and outputs from research must be implemented, transferred to end-users (stakeholders), and communicated within different sectors. We therefore asked the participants to share their ideas on how knowledge and research results could be communicated and what methods and tools they would like to try to best fill the knowledge gaps on this topic.

And the winner is…

A jury selected the winning team: the organisation H2O-People. Their mission is to enable personal and professional growth through unique programmes aimed at connecting talent to realize potential throughout all career phases. As collaboration partners, the H2O-People have also made it their mission to design tailor-made strategies for participation and funding within EU and other collaboration projects.

Chrysoula Papacharalampou of H2O-People. @H2O-People

As such, they also support iMERMAID – Innovative solutions for Mediterranean Ecosystem Remediation via Monitoring and Decontamination from chemical pollution. iMERMAID is an EU-funded project aiming to develop, implement and promote innovative and replicable strategies to prevent, monitor and manage the problem of toxic chemical pollution (especially from CECs) in the Mediterranean Sea basin. The project wants to create a sustainable and lasting impact on society. In addition to introducing technological advances and market-ready solutions, iMERMAID strives to influence policy at the EU and local levels and to change the behaviour of the local population and stakeholders.

The idea

But what exactly is H2O-People's idea in terms of knowledge transfer? "For iMERMAID, we want to combine a comprehensive social media campaign with a local school project," explains Naomi Timmer from H2O-People. The campaign aims to educate the inhabitants of the Mediterranean about CECs in the ocean and their impact on marine pollution. One key focus of their submission is that individual actions and decisions can also play a major role for the entire ecosystem: "If fewer and safer chemicals are used, the condition of the Mediterranean can be improved as a result," says Naomi Timmer.

The school project also aims to make the younger European generation aware of the problem of chemical marine pollution. "We want to show them that they too can contribute to a clean marine ecosystem," says Naomi Timmer. The iMERMAID campaign is currently being planned. As soon as it starts, we will share more details about it.

What the jury particularly praised about this idea was that the combination of methods addresses different generations in the same local environment. "This will have a great impact on the engagement of the population," says Gunnar Thorsén (IVL), member of AquaticPollutants TransNet and the Innovation Challenge jury.

For their winning idea, the H2O-People team will receive a cash prize of 500€ and travel costs for two attendees to the SETAC Europe 2024 conference, which has a theme this year of “Science-Based Solutions in Times of Crisis: Integrating Science and Policy for Environmental Challenges”.

Congratulations and enjoy your prize!