By Carlo Caloisi
The blue gold (seas and oceans), for many is the new economic frontier.
It represents the possibility of an enormous wealth of resources and great potential to stimulate economic growth, technological innovation, employment and livelihoods for those who depend on it.
It is also seen as critical to meeting the next global challenges of the decades to come in terms of food security, climate change, zero-impact energy supply, exploitation of natural resources and improved medical care.
Despite its enormous potential (it provides the main source of food for almost half of the world’s population and is home to about 80% of the planet’s biodiversity), it is endangered by excessive and unregulated exploitation of resources with the consequences we know: pollution, biodiversity decline, endangered ecosystems, climate change
To cope with this situation it is becoming necessary to significantly change the economic approach to a more responsible and sustainable, with an eye to both the protection of the marine habitat and the economic aspect.
Thus was born the Blue Economy, a definition coined in 2010 by the Belgian economist Gunter Pauli in his book of the same name, a model of sustainable economy able to rationalize and decrease the impact on the health of our seas and our oceans through, for example, the creation of new products by recycling waste or by providing energy from raw materials and natural resources that can be exploited for the generation of wealth.
In fact, this is the circular economy applied to the marine context of which it is a branch.
There are many fields of application towards which this economic model is developed, among which we mention:
- Bioeconomy for fish productions;
- Sustainable fishing:
- Port activities;
- Beach tourism;
- Marine sector;
- Renewable sources;
and there is considerable funding both from international organizations such as the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Initiative of the United Nations or particularly from the European Union also in collaboration with the European Investment Bank (EIB), through the provision of loans to small and medium-sized enterprises aimed at developing the model.
With particular attention to the European Union, the commitments contained in the Commission communication of May 2021 (“On a new approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU. Transforming the EU’s blue economy for a sustainable future”), have been endorsed by the European Green Deal.
The communication sets out a detailed action plan to which the European Union should adhere:
Achieve climate neutrality and zero pollution targets, for example through the decarbonization of maritime transport, the implementation of off-shore photovoltaic panels that combined with thermal, wind and tidal energy could ensure 25% of EU energy needs by 2050;
- Reduction of pollution through new methods of design of fishing gear, conversion of ships, decommissioning of offshore platforms and reduction of plastics littered in the oceans;
- Biodiversity conservation. This approach will increase the presence of fish fauna with an improved climate while also minimizing environmental impacts;
- Supporting the preservation of coastal landscapes from erosion and flood risk through the development of green infrastructure with beneficial effects in the coastal tourism sector;
- Ensuring sustainable food production. The regulation of the shellfish trade and a careful control of fisheries combined with research and technological innovation will lead to virtuous management in this area as well as sustainable aquaculture in the EU thanks to the recently adopted guidelines;
- Improved management of space in the sea. It will be necessary to achieve a kind of coordination between offshore operators, scientists and all stakeholders in fisheries, aquaculture, shipping tourism and renewable energy for a sustainable use of the seas. Issuance of an EU directive on maritime space by 2022 after adoption of the relevant national plans.
Everything can be made more effective with the creation of an international dialogue through the planning of an action plan for the management of seas and oceans.
SOURCES AND IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS
- Gunter Pauli “The blue economy”, 2010; https://books.google.it/books?id=aJ3HZD1H7ZsC&redir_esc=y ;
- European Green Deal: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en ;
- Communication from the European Commission (on a new approach to a sustainable blue economy in the EU. Transforming the EU blue economy for a sustainable future – May 2021: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2021:240:FIN ;
- 2021 EU Blue Economy report – Emerging sectors prepare blue economy for leading part in EU green transition: https://ec.europa.eu/oceans-and-fisheries/news/2021-eu-blue-economy-report-emerging-sectors-prepare-blue-economy-leading-part-eu-green-transition-2021-05-20_en ;
- Developing a sustainable economy in the EU: https://www.conisma.it/it/developing-a-sustainable-blue-economy-in-the-eu/ ;
- Blue indicators online dashboard : https://blueindicators.ec.europa.eu/access-online-dashboard ;
- The EU blue economy report – 2021: https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/0b0c5bfd-c737-11eb-a925-01aa75ed71a1 ;
- The European Commission and EIB Group join forces to protect the oceans and boost investment in the sustainable blue economy: https://www.eib.org/en/press/all/2021-161-the-european-commission-and-european-investment-bank-group-join-forces-to-protect-the-oceans-and-boost-investment-in-the-sustainable-blue-economy ;
- United Nations’ Sustainable Blue Finance Initiative: Mobilising Capital for a Sustainable Ocean: https://www.unepfi.org/blue-finance/
- The ocean economy in 2030 (OECD – Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development): https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/the-ocean-economy-in-2030_9789264251724-en#page1 .
IMAGES (in sequential order)