PHOTO ©Andrés Fraga
Elena Ojea, researcher at the Centre for Marine Research (CIM) of the University of Vigo and leader of the Future Oceans Lab group, will receive the 2023 Banco Sabadell Foundation Marine Sustainability Award for her work on the adaptation and transformation of marine socio-ecological systems and the assessment of climate change risks and vulnerabilities.
The panel of judges for the Award, presided over by Dr Isabel Cacho, has assessed positively the holistic perspective of her research work in which Elena Ojea integrates “not only ecosystemic aspects of marine sustainability, but also the more social aspect, focusing on a vision of justice and equality and including the gender perspective”. The jury also highlighted the role of Dr Ojea in international panels such as the IPCC, the FAO and the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy in which her contributions to develop new policies at the international level have been “extremely valuable”.
Elena Ojea’s research focuses on the adaptative solutions for marine socio-ecological systems, which enable the sustainable management of resources, social equality and the preservation of marine-related livelihoods. Her research line explores to what extent and the reasons why communities that rely on the marine environment, such as artisanal fishermen, and conservation instruments, such as marine protected areas, are able to respond to the impacts of climate change. Her work combines the use of risk indexes, the analysis of socio-ecological networks and statistical models of human behaviour to identify adaptation and transformation strategies in marine systems.
“In my research work, I reflect on the links between society and oceans, especially in the current climate change environment. I am driven because I want to contribute to the urgent change that as a society, we have to make by stopping climate change and by taking advantage of the opportunity to adapt ourselves to it fairly and inclusively. We are at a critical moment; we need to wake up if we want to leave a sustainable marine legacy for our children”, explained Dr Ojea, who added that receiving this Award makes her especially excited because it means “I am being recognised by a scientific community that I deeply admire. It brings me joy to know that I am part of a big collective effort that is impacting the sustainability of oceans”.
The Banco Sabadell Foundation Marine Sustainability Award was created in 2022, in collaboration with Seastainable Ventures, in order to incentivise and recognised the work of Spanish scientists in the fields of marine environmental regeneration and the sustainable use of its resources and, specifically, those research works that provide tangible evidence of their applicability and impact. The Award is part, along with the Economic Research Award, the Biomedical Research Award and the Award for Sciences and Engineering, of the commitment undertaken by the Banco Sabadell Foundation to promote research and education, focusing particularly on young talent.
This Award is also part of the ESG framework for action, Sabadell’s Commitment to Sustainability, which seeks to promote transformational actions that contribute to sustainable development and the fight against climate change. Josep Oliu, Chairman of Banco Sabadell, will present the Award in a ceremony to be held in Vigo on 15 November 2023.
About Dr Elena Ojea
holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Economics from the University of Santiago de Compostela. During her postdoctoral career, Elena Ojea had a stay at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3) and at the University of California in Santa Barbara where she specialised in the adaptation to climate change. In 2016, she was awarded a project by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant).
She is currently involved in several European projects carrying out climate risk and vulnerability assessments of marine systems (FutureMARES, ACTNOW and MPA-Engage), funded by Horizon2020 and Interreg-Med. Furthermore, her research work was extremely impactful at the international level, participating in international projects for bodies such as the FAO, and in reports for the High-Level Panel on a Sustainable Ocean Economy and for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Ojea was lead author of the chapter on oceans of the 6th Report on impacts and adaptation of the IPCC.
Jury of the Banco Sabadell Foundation Marine Sustainability Award 2023
The Award jury is chaired by Dr. Isabel Cacho and made up of Dra. Conxita Àvila, Dr. Ángel Borja, Dra. Emma Cebrián, Dr. Emilio Fernández,Dra. Núria Montserrat, Dr. Stefano Pogutz, Dr. José Luis Sánchez Lizaso, Dr. Rafael Sardá y Dr. Jorge Miguel Terrados.