A new covenant for VLIZ | Flanders Marine Institute

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A new covenant for VLIZ

Added on 2022-02-15
Covenants between the government and VLIZ determine the institute's mission for the next five years. After an intensive preliminary phase consisting of an internal self-evaluation, an external evaluation and negotiations, the Government of Flanders approved a new covenant for the period 2022-2026 on 17 December 2021.

Photo: © VLIZ (Decombel)

The agreement describes the mission, the strategic and operational objectives, the funding of the institute and the key performance indicators (KPIs). The mission of VLIZ has not changed: to strengthen marine knowledge development and the excellence of marine research in Flanders. The marine working areas are the ocean and seas, and coastal and tidal systems. The target groups are the marine research community, the educational field, the public at large, policy makers and companies (in the context of the blue economy).

Concerning marine research, VLIZ has a permanent mandate to focus on (preferably) collaborative research. The three new emphases concern the facilitation of interactions between actors and disciplines, research that contributes to the knowledge development of the climate-ocean-biodiversity nexus, and research that valorises the research infrastructure (including the databases). VLIZ will always examine whether and how the newly acquired expertise can be embedded optimally in the Flemish marine research landscape (or economically valorised). For example, it takes into account the reinforcement of marine research groups outside the institution and promotes the Flemish research landscape.

Furthermore, the Government of Flanders dropped the non-competition clause in the research programming from the covenant. This allows VLIZ to make full use of its knowledge and expertise and opens the way for more intensive collaboration between VLIZ and marine research groups, with the growth of the marine ecosystem as the higher common objective.

Finally, the government reduced the number of KPIs VLIZ has to deliver. By linking the KPIs to the strategic objectives within VLIZ' 3-pillar model (research, valorisation and services), the government can monitor the value of the activities in a more result-oriented manner.

In addition to the renewal of the covenant with the Government of Flanders, the agreements with the province of West Flanders and with the UNESCO-IOC Project Office for IODE were also due for revision. In the context of the blue economy, VLIZ and the province of West Flanders involved the Provincial Development Company (POM) West Flanders in their new covenant. The UNESCO-IOC Project Office for IODE and VLIZ refocused their covenant in light of strengthening the activities from Flanders and Belgium in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.

The new covenant of VLIZ has started off well, with 7 approved research projects in January 2022 in which VLIZ will play an active role, both from European Horizon Europe funding ('Prep4BLUE', 'Geo-Inquire', 'Fair-Ease', ' iMagine') and with resources from Flanders ('Blue BALANCE') and Belgium ('Waldo', 'STURMAPSS').

Jan Mees, General Director of VLIZ: “Based on the work of recent years, VLIZ was positively evaluated as an institute that can quickly adapt to societal needs, new challenges and emerging scientific themes. In the next five years, VLIZ will continue to focus on the three pillars of science support, collaborative research and valorisation towards policy and the blue economy. In addition, there will be increased attention for strengthening the 'blue ecosystem' in Flanders, and a new focus on sea-related climate research."

Link: www.vliz.be/en/administrative-documents

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