Key Talking Points
6th High-Level Industry-Science-Government Dialogue on Atlantic Interactions All-Atlantic Summit on Innovation for Sustainable Marine Development and the Blue Economy: Fostering Global Economic Recovery in a Post-pandemic World

Video Taping Sept. 23, 2020

On behalf of Penn State, I want to welcome you to the All-Atlantic Summit. I extend special greetings to the government officials who are with us today. They have joined us virtually from near and far, including international destinations of Angola, Cabo Verde, and Portugal, as well as United States Federal agencies including NASA and NOAA. Given the challenges our world is facing, it is more important than ever for your work to carry on. And collaboration is crucial to the topic at hand.

The Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Design in Africa (AESEDA) has partnered with the AIR Centre on this conference. This was an initiative that I started as Dean of Earth and Mineral Sciences in 2003, and I’m very pleased that Penn State is hosting this meeting. This has been a big year for us in terms of research. Our research expenditures exceeded the $1 billion mark in fiscal year 2019-20. The total figure, $1.01 billion, places Penn State among a select group of research universities nationally, and reflects the interdisciplinary strength built over three decades. It represents a $40 million increase over last year’s number, and includes a record $633 million in federal funding.

This milestone reflects both the strength of external support for the University’s research activity and the broad impact of that activity on solving complex societal problems--from advancing health, to addressing food security and sustainable energy solutions, to contributing to economic development.

Penn State’s research enterprise is dedicated to improving the overall quality of life for people in our communities, our nation and our world. And you are all part of this effort.

We’re very proud of Penn State’s strength in Earth and Mineral Sciences, which is my academic home, as well as in engineering, computational sciences, biological research, and sustainability. Our work connects to the sustainable development goals and its engagement internationally.

I understand that you will be engaged in five new missions that will be launched to promote TransAtlantic collaboration using a multi-sector and multidisciplinary approach. Their focus will address essential needs including:

  1. Clean and productive coasts, bays and estuaries, by promoting the sustainable development of major bay and estuarine areas, including the comparative assessment and action research in several locations;
  2. Resilience to coastal natural hazards, by preventing, reducing and increasing preparedness for response against coastal hazard exposure and vulnerability to natural or man-made disasters, such as floods, sea-level rise and extreme weather. It will also allow adaptation and mitigation of climate change effects;
  3. Sustainable food production, by promoting new food value chains with sustainable fisheries and off-shore aquaculture and reducing environmental risks and pressures for food security;
  4. Improved resource management of oceans, coasts and marine systems through the sustainable development of ocean and coastal ecosystems, enhancing capacity for good governance of marine and coastal biodiversity, and raising awareness for local communities and decision makers on the economic value of the ecosystem and mechanisms for sustainable development;
  5. Improved environmental and maritime monitoring, by enabling the creation of impactful, affordable data collection and information systems that use a collaboratively developed nanosatellite constellation, marine robotics, and aerial autonomous systems. This will be coupled with earth observation, numerical modeling, and artificial intelligence systems.

The blue economy will be important in the short-term recovery from the COVID-pandemic but it will also promote the longer-term sustainable development goals and offsetting losses from a warmer planet.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Blue economy is important because it supports commerce, tourism, recreation, job creation and contributes to the local economies for Philadelphia and Erie because of Lake Erie and the Delaware River. Penn State’s research at the Philadelphia Navy Yard is part of the vibrant innovation linked to economic growth.

On behalf of Penn State University, thank you for participating in this Summit and the important work underway. I look forward to learning more about the collaborations and projects that result from this session. I hope you find it productive and inspiring. Enjoy your time together.