The Mediterranean forum-Circle the Med organized, on October 7th, the 4th online debate –“Mediterranean and Blue Growth: How to plan a Sustainable Blue Economy?“
The Blue Growth, as a crucial policy objective of the European Commission, Member States, and a broad range of maritime actors, contributes to employment, strengthens the economic development of the regions, supports the sectors of research and innovation, and promotes a collaborative and inclusive approach to the maritime economy.
Nevertheless, the maritime economy has to face many challenges to accomplish sustainable development. Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is considered one of those challenges. MSP can help to accommodate tomorrow’s Blue Economy by creating a framework for evidence-based and inclusive maritime spatial plans from national authorities. Moreover, by combining the economic dimension with other dimensions and demands like the environment and ecosystem protection, the interaction between maritime activities and cross-border collaboration, the MSP contributes to empowering of the Blue Economy.
The main issues of the debate focused on the following questions:
Mr. George Kremlis, President of the Circle the Med Forum and the International “Circular Clima Institute” of the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) hosted Mrs. Eleni Hatziyanni, Policy Officer of DG MARE, Mrs. Lise Guennal, Project Officer for the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR) and Dr. Andrea Barbanti, Research Manager at National Research Council - Institute of Marine Sciences (CNR-ISMAR).
How to plan a circular Blue Economy in the Mediterranean
Blue Growth is a priority for the EU, accompanied by other EU priorities, especially the Green Deal. Within the frame of accomplishing the objectives of Blue Growth, every member-state of the EU should develop and implement maritime spatial plans to organize the activities in the coastal and sea area.
The Mediterranean, an area with a significant coastline, is strongly influenced by the marine element and therefore gathers a large number of activities from different regions and countries.
Moreover, the MSP has an added value that can be recognized by its contribution to the development of new cross-border synergies and the promotion of innovative methods. MSP is a guideline and knowledge tool for accomplishing the objectives of Blue Growth.
Nevertheless, several challenges and threats need to be addressed for the harmonized development of the MSP, towards sustainable blue growth. Promoting synergies between the EU Member States is a key to addressing the challenges. Harmonization of national spatial plans, planning for the protection of vulnerable ecosystems, exchange of knowledge and information, and joint targeting through a strategic vision and action plan, aligned with macro-regional and other strategies, can lay the foundations for balanced cooperation between the countries.
Also, challenges are being identified in the governance process, making it necessary to simplify procedures, reduce bureaucracy and administrative burdens, and promote multi-level governance. New methods of connecting and contacting stakeholders with policymakers can benefit the clarification of objectives and measures, the common understanding, and the exchange of knowledge and best practices through direct dialogue.
In conclusion, the emphasis on smart specialization and innovation can be an opportunity to implement new cross-border projects focusing on blue growth and sustainability.
When designing the Blue Economy in the Mediterranean, it is not enough to take into account only the economic variable. Blue growth must be cyclical, social, sustainable, and extroverted to succeed.
EU Strategy for Adriatic and Ionian Region
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