Abu Dhabi - Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi launched the Institute for Oceans (IFO) on 9 December 2023, at COP28, during a conference dedicated to “Monitoring the Oceans: a key for climate change”.  The announcement was made by Prof Nathalie Martial Braz, the Vice Chancellor of Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and Admiral Christophe Prazuck, the Director of the Institute for Oceans at Sorbonne Université and former chief of the French Navy. 

Sorbonne Université is the number one university in Europe in the field of Marine Sciences.  Prof. Martial-Braz told the conference that Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi is so proud today of this new launch as part of its commitment to contribute to the development of Ocean research in the UAE and bring responsive and innovative approaches to this fundamental field of research using traditional research and augmented observatories.  

Prof Martial-Braz explained that establishing this world class institute in Abu Dhabi, as a sister institute of the Institute for Oceans (l’Institut de l’Océan) at Sorbonne Université in Paris, is to support the University’s drive to build interdisciplinary, transnational research and create synergies that will have a real and positive impact here in the UAE, in the region and at a global level. 

The Institute for Oceans aligns with the strategic initiatives of the University and one of its principal research objectives which is to develop its Environmental Research Center and uphold its commitment to bolstering the UAE as a knowledge economy. Fortified by the application of state-of-the-art technology including Artificial Intelligence, Imaging and DNA, this next chapter in the strategic plan of the university will support the fulfillment of the 2030 UAE vision, the achievement of the 2050 net-zero target, and a robust commitment to attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

In the field of ocean science research, the SUAD Institute for Oceans will be a multidisciplinary research institute bringing together scientific experts from distinct fields such as oceanography, ecology, anthropology, economics, archaeology, and social sciences, along with public and private sector stakeholders, decision-makers, and civic society to identify priorities and ensure a broader uptake of the solutions produced. 

Admiral Cristophe Prazuck, Director of the Institute for Oceans in Sorbonne Université in Paris, stated that “the ultimate goal of the Institute for Oceans in Abu Dhabi is to develop systems-thinking based targeted strategies for multi-scale and multidisciplinary observation of coastal socio-ecosystems”.

He went on to say: “thanks to the development and deployment of data-intensive approaches for observing biodiversity and societal uses, the Institute will produce a massive quantity of new and heterogeneous data that will benefit the development of research in the UAE.”

SUAD Institute for Oceans will include an in-depth strategic reflection on how best to structure, access, and maintain new and existing data in-line with the FAIR principles. The Institute is expected to start its first research project in 2024 with a focus on environmentally sensitive areas, such as vulnerable maritime facades (Fujairah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi), marine protected areas and mangroves which will act as demonstrators and use cases.