November 22nd - 23rd, 2018 - Barcelona
Blue Growth Community Mid-Term Conference
“Blue Economy: The Blue Way of Life”
The Blue Growth community (Interreg Med) organized its mid-term conference entitled “Blue Economy: The Blue Way of Life”, which served as a platform to reinforce Mediterranean cooperation and to present the state of the art of the current initiatives developed in the blue economy framework
November 2018 – Barcelona - The Blue Growth Community, driven by the InnoBlueGrowth project (Interreg Med), organized its transnational Mid-Term Conference entitled “Blue Economy: The Blue Way of Life.” The event took place on November 22nd-23rd 2018, in Barcelona, Spain. The event was organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) with the support of all InnoBlueGrowth project partners (CoNISMa, Plan Bleu, IMC-CPMR, NTUA, University of Montenegro).
The main objective of the Blue Growth community is to build a real community of projects dealing with blue economy initiatives, and to reinforce the partnerships between projects and transnational key stakeholders for a better-integrated policy-making. So far, active projects include MAESTRALE and PELAGOS on maritime energy, PROteuS on maritime surveillance, iBLUE on yachting, 4Helix+ on innovation and MISTRAL on Transnational Activity of Clusters and Blue Growth Networks. The Mid-Term Conference represented a milestone for the community, as it allowed the representatives of the various modular and integrated projects to present their progress, initial results and ongoing activities, while exchanging with participants for peer-reviewing.
The Conference gathered experts and key players from the Mediterranean region, encompassing the public and private sector, international organizations and also the academia and the civil society. Valuable discussions around the topics of business development and sustainability from a social, environmental and economic perspective were generated, in a favorable environment for networking and the development of synergies among projects and participants.
This gathering’s purpose was to reflect on issues such as public engagement and awareness raising, market development, sustainability and clusters in the blue growth context. The discussions contributed to draw the attention of as opinion leaders, decision-makers, and institutional bodies, funding entities, experts and researchers, aiming at all governance levels for better impacts in the development and implementation of the blue economy.
During the conference, the blue growth community came to reflect on the definition of a “blue way of life,” allying personal and professional views. The “blue way of life” was mainly described as a need to protect, respect and enjoy/use the sea and the resources it has to offer. From a professional perspective, one could say that the blue way of life relates to working on policy making, law enforcement, cooperation, stakeholder engagement, always considering the economic, social and environmental dimension of sustainability.
The first day, began with the session on the "Transition towards a sustainable future". Among main contributions, the Union for the Mediterranean highlighted the need to motivate different economic sectors and governments to invest in the blue economy. Thus, Miguel García-Herraiz, Deputy Secretary General for Water & Environment from the UfM talked about "the importance to take care of the sustainability and health of the Mediterranean Sea along with working for the peace, social and prosperity of the region, also by creating new employment opportunities". In this context, Paul Tourret presented the main economic dynamics of the blue economy in the Mediterranean (e.g. ports and maritime companies' activities) and explained how smart technologies are helping to reduce the pressures that affect the Mediterranean and improve its sustainability.
The next session on "Governance and Cooperation models: tools for innovation and integrated global sustainability", gathered different presentations from thematic projects. This session tackled different issues such as best practices in terms of sustainability within the yachting sector in 9 Mediterranean countries (iBlue), explained the advantage of grouping national actors into clusters in order to identify and exploit blue technologies (Proteus) and presented the main themes of blue growth involving public-research industry actors (Mistral), among others.
Finally, during the last session of the first day, "Support for a sustainable blue economy through the internationalization of clusters in the Mediterranean", speakers presented blue economy actions from different perspectives: from a national maritime strategy, to a community of green entrepreneurs behaving as a platform that reacts to environmental issues, to a local cluster acting as an integration tool for the development of a sustainable blue economy, highlighting the potentialities of clusters in the Mediterranean. The day successfully ended on contributions from the participants, stating that "Sea is the development. It is a great development opportunity especially for marine countries and islands".
During the second day, the sessions tackled key matters as awareness raising, mitigating pressures and the involvement of younger generations, as well as how transnational cooperation in the Mediterranean is a key issue for integrated actions towards Blue Growth. The role of younger generations in the sustainable development of the blue economy was discussed in a panel involving the Mediterranean Youth for Water network and the president of the ASCAME training and education commission. During this panel, the importance of integrating young people, students and professionals, into decision-making and the need to support to the development of blue entrepreneurship were highlighted.
“Blue Growth is not only the direct jobs that you find in the sea. It is also land and sea interactions, [and] we have a lot of services depending on the activities at sea. For this, we have to look at all aspects to better to coordinate for new or the upgrade of skills” stated Mr. Stefano Malatesta, from Milano “Bicocca” University.
The event counted on the participation of Mr. Christos Economou, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who described the state of EU current strategies in the Mediterranean region related to the blue economy, and stated that “the Mediterranean Sea offers challenges and opportunities in the field of technology, tourism, innovation and aquaculture, and all of them are important for development in a closed sea.” A true coordination and cooperation are therefore necessary to avoid conflicts of uses and respect the surrounding environment to the best possible extent. Mrs. Maria Groueva from the Interreg-Med Programme Joint Secretariat and Mrs. Adela Franja from the Interreg-ADRION Programme Joint Secretariat followed the discussions, announced the launch of the third call for Interreg MED 2014-2020 projects and the state of current calls for ADRION.
Lastly, the Mid-Term Conference was the occasion to present the latest developments on the different blue growth modular and integrated projects part of this Community: iBlue, MAESTRALE, PELAGOS, Proteus, 4Helix+ and MISTRAL. Their presentations outlined their goals and the progress achieved to date, displaying how they have been contributing to the development of the blue economy. The representatives of the different projects exposed their implementation processes, also demonstrating how they are supporting global sustainability (economic, social, environmental), introducing their innovative tools, methodologies, and deliverables applied to clusters, the yachting, blue renewable energies, and maritime surveillance sectors. This session allowed to information not only on development of project results but principally on blue economy opportunities to the whole Blue Growth Community.
This event took place in the framework of the MedaWeek 2018, which brought together key regional actors and experts on the theme “One Sea, Three Continents, Sharing Common Goals”: an event organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME), which proportionated to the Blue Growth Community’s mid-term conference a strong added-value and a high visibility across various media channels, including social media.
The Blue Growth community will meet again in Spring 2019 in Marseilles for a Community Building and Capitalization event on strengthening the Science-Practice-Policy Interface in the blue economy. Stay tuned!
The InnoBlueGrowth Project counts with a €1,47 million funding (of which €1,25 of EU co-funding) in the framework of the transnational cooperation program Interreg Med.
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