The Bluemed initiative fosters integration of knowledge and efforts to develop Blue Growth in the Mediterranean and promotes joint actions on relevant research and innovation priorities. Bluemed has identified a number of key challenges including MSP and ICZM. The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) issued in September 2015 and updated with the last version in 2017 is a tool for addressing these challenges. It is a living document (to be updated every 6 months) detailing the scope, level and duration of specific joint actions to be taken in order to achieve a particular goal falling within a key challenge. The goal "Effective Maritime Spatial Planning in the Mediterranean" includes 5 actions dealing with MSP, as for example: (1) Developing tools to assess the cumulative impacts of human activities, to ensure that exploitation of marine resources is ecologically sustainable, or (2) Use integrated decision tools to select appropriate sites for offshore installations, to ensure that they meet energy and environmental requirements.
Questions this practice may help answer
- Which are nowadays the major knowledge gaps, related with MSP and ICZM, perceived by EU-MED research community?
- Which are the research and innovation needs and opportunities related to MSP and ICZM in the Mediterranean?
- How can results of gaps, needs and opportunities analysis be framed into an overall strategic agenda for research and innovation?
Bluemed initiative was developed under the Italian Presidency of the EU Council in 2014 together with Mediterranean EU Member States and Portugal and with the support of the European Commission. It fosters integration of knowledge and efforts to develop the Blue Growth in the Mediterranean and promotes joint actions of relevant research and innovation priorities. In addition it maximises the leverage effects of the research investments.
Bluemed has identified a number of Blue Growth related challenges, including “MSP and ICZM in the Mediterranean”. The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) issued in September 2015 and updated with the last version in 2017 is a tool for addressing these challenges. It is a living document (to be updated every 6 months) detailing the scope, level and duration of specific joint actions to be taken in order to achieve a particular goal falling within a key challenge.
Aspects / Objectives
The “MSP and ICZM in the Mediterranean” challenge is explicated in two main goals identified in the SRIA: (i) Strengthen synergies among science, industry, policymakers and society; (ii) Effective Maritime Spatial Planning in the Mediterranean. This latter foresees the following actions:
- Improve knowledge of the land-sea nexus and develop coastal ecological engineering solutions and measures to reach the Good Environmental Status.
- Develop tools to assess the cumulative impact of human activities, to ensure that exploitation of marine resources is ecologically sustainable.
- Identify the trade-offs between ecological dynamics and socioeconomic needs in order to improve adaptive management scenarios for resource use.
- Research into the governance and management of multi-stakeholder processes to support maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management policies.
- Use integrated decision tools to select appropriate sites for offshore installations, to ensure that they meet energy and environmental requirements.
The BLUEMED initiative, jointly developed and agreed between Cyprus, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain, facilitated and supported by the European Commission, aims to advance a shared Vision for a more healthy, productive, resilient, as well as a better known and valued Mediterranean Sea.
Several meeting during 2014 supported discussion and consensus building among the countries involved as well as consultation with stakeholders including industry representatives as well as private and public associations. The initiative addresses cross-cutting marine and maritime strategic research themes, around which joint innovation programmes can be constructed. The process of developing this initiative and related SRIA has consisted of many steps, including numerous meetings. The starting point has been on the one hand the mapping of existing and on-going regional, national and European projects and initiatives by the countries involved together with the participation of experts, major public and private stakeholders including maritime clusters, and policy makers (Annex 1 to the Vision); on the other hand, the identification of the knowledge and technology/innovation gaps and of the “boundary conditions” that allow these gaps to be addressed (Annex 2 to the Vision).
Main Outputs / Results
As a result of the consultation process, key challenges to be addressed in order to realize the Vision were identified. Among them, some key sectorial enablers were pointed out, including one directly related with ICZM and MSP: Achieve a uniform assessment of the natural and anthropogenic pressures on the coastal zones, and propose mitigation and restoration/adaptation measures, according to the Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management principles.
Throughout the analysis the following knowledge gaps, specifically related to MSP and ICZM, were identified, with reference to the needs of implementation of EU policies and directives (e.g. MSP, MSFD, WFD, Habitats and Bird Directive, CFP, Blue Growth) and ICZM Protocol within the Barcelona Convention:
- Information about relevant socio-economic sea-based activities together with detailed knowledge of marine ecosystems, including offshore environment, vulnerable ecosystems, archaeological remains, etc. Identification of risks on environmental processes and biodiversity is also relevant.
- Knowledge on coastal ecosystems; evaluation of cumulative impacts of coastal and marine uses and their related pressures on the marine ecosystems, to practically support the implementation of the Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) approach developing an aware planning (including climate changes at local scales) in coastal areas and maritime activity sectors.
- Common and evolved frameworks integrating ICZM and MSP, with: (i) access to data, data integration and data management to support decision-making, also considering development of GIS-based tools to map activities and their interactions; (ii) use of social sciences to study coastal populations perceptions regarding coastal issues, integrating seashore and sea users into coastal governance.
In relation with the above knowledge gaps, the following research and innovation needs/opportunities related to MSP and ICZM were identified:
- Exploitation of sea resources harmonized within an ecosystem framework, e.g.: renewable energy, fisheries and aquaculture, environmental protection of marine reserves, sediment extraction, CO2 stocking, cable, pipeline and platform installation, artificial islands, tourism and recreation activities, production of fossil fuel power, ports, navigation, logistics, scientific research, etc. MSP is identified as a tool having the potential to deal with a number of issues related to sustainable use of the seas, but coordinated coastal and maritime spatial planning activities at Member States level are few.
- Support EBM implementation including integrated solution in coastal and maritime space planning and management by developing transnational methodology and through: improved knowledge of ecosystems status and functioning; conceptual and operational schemes to combine and rank pressures and impacts; new technologies and systems affordably enabling an increase in the spatial-temporal resolution of in-situ coastal observations together with a harmonized European Spatial Data Infrastructure.
- Technologies for data management and integration with capitalization on previous research projects and transfer of data acquired and tools developed and tested (e.g. maps, remote sensing, model outputs, etc.); development of tools to support knowledge sharing, networking, capacity building, and of common frameworks, using cross sectorial and multi / trans-disciplinary approaches at a transnational scale; research on governance and management processes in support to policies; promotion of permanent research networks, directly linked with administrators and key stakeholders as well as of methods for including the interlink data - publication in metadata.
Above gaps, needs and opportunities were taken in consideration to develop SRIA contents (challenges, goals and activities) related to MSP and ICZM.
The development of a “Blue Growth” Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda - considering also needs for MSP and its integration with ICZM - could in principle be targeted in other Regional Seas, in order to promote a coordinated research effort to fill existing knowledge gaps. Furthermore, It is expected that the Bluemed initiative and in particular the SRIA will lead to shared and coordinated efforts boosting research and innovation on blue jobs and growth in the Mediterranean basin.
Fabio Fava, Chair of Bluemed Strategic Board
University of Bologna,
Coordinator BlueMed CSA
Ad hoc BLUEMED initiative working group.