The European Commission adopted an updated action plan for a sustainable, resilient and competitive blue economy in the EU Atlantic area, covering France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.
At a time of social and economic uncertainty, the EU is preparing the next generation of EU-funded programmes to foster economic recovery. The revamped action plan will give new impetus to the Atlantic maritime strategy and will strengthen the participating countries’ recovery efforts. It will contribute to the European Green Deal, a socially inclusive model of sustainable development and job creation while safeguarding marine and coastal environments and securing a healthy ocean.
The European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus SinkeviÃƒâ€žÃ‚Âius, said: “In the midst of the crisis, more than ever, we must stay focused on making our future green: the EU Green Deal and the green transition should guide our recovery plan. The development of a sustainable blue economy, targeting specific challenges and opportunities at sea basin level, serves exactly these objectives. We must put green in the blue and blue in the green.’’
Focusing on offsetting the adverse socio-economic impact of the crisis, the new action plan proposes concrete actions for the development of the blue economy in the Atlantic, addressing challenges, such as:
- The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the development of renewable energy – by supporting research and investment in marine renewable energy (going beyond offshore wind) for which the Atlantic has a huge potential;
- The fight against marine pollution – by promoting green shipping and coordinating actions against marine litter;
- The creation of new jobs – by addressing the skills gaps in the blue economy sectors and by supporting cooperation between EU training centres and businesses;
- The adaptation to climate change – by improving coastal observation and designing and promoting cost effective coastal protection measures.
The EU Atlantic Strategy and the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance
The new action plan also has a strong international dimension in the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance including USA, and Canada, Brazil and South Africa. The participating Member States may decide, in consultation with the European Commission, to expand the membership of the Atlantic strategy to any interested state.
The action plan will reinforce cooperation among the participating countries and include coastal regions and stakeholders. A solid monitoring framework will measure progress and impact.
The main sources of funding will be European Structural and Investment Funds, including the future territorial cooperation programme in the Atlantic area and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). In addition to the national and regional funding, the action plan will also rely on sources such as Horizon Europe, Connecting Europe Facility, LIFE programme and innovative financial instruments managed by the European Investment Bank, such as the InvestEU programme for decarbonisation and the circular economy.
Among the plan’s four pillars there are a number of goals and actions which are of relevance for the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, namely pillar II (Blue skills and ocean literacy) and pillar IV (healthy ocean and resilient coasts).
The research activities implemented as part of the Galway and Belém Statements and the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance cut across all pillars. They give an international dimension to the Atlantic Action Plan and support its implementation by improving understanding of the changing Atlantic Ocean and its effects on coastal communities and by developing innovative solutions.
PILLAR I: PORTS AS GATEWAYS AND HUBS FOR THE BLUE ECONOMY
- Goal 1: Ports as gateways for trade in the Atlantic
- Goal 2: Ports as catalysts for business
PILLAR II: BLUE SKILLS OF THE FUTURE AND OCEAN LITERACY
- Goal 3: Quality education, training and life-long learning
- Goal 4: Ocean literacy
- Launch an Atlantic Ocean literacy pilot curriculum
- Create 25 Atlantic blue schools by 2025
- Implement an ocean literacy component (dissemination) in relevant project
- Making use of the All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Forum
- Engage citizens in ocean-related actions in the EU Atlantic area
- Engage citizens in activities organised for European Maritime Day, International Ocean Day and under the future EU4Ocean platform
PILLAR III: MARINE RENEWABLE ENERGY
- Goal 5: The promotion of carbon neutrality through marine renewable energy
PILLAR IV: HEALTHY OCEAN AND RESILIENT COASTS
- Goal 6: Stronger coastal resilience
- Demonstrate a comprehensive alert and observing system for increased storms and floods due to climate change
- Develop synergies between existing EU infrastructures for coastal observation and protection, as well as for alert and monitoring and increase the development of in-situ ocean observatories
- Develop test spaces, pilot areas to test methods of coastal protection and promote nature-based solutions
- Promote sustainable practices in coastal and maritime tourism
- Compile an inventory of national and regional climate change coastal adaptation strategies and measures, linked to the risk assessments and risk management plans, share best practices
- Create information campaigns for Atlantic coastal communities
- Educate young people and coastal communities on the evolution of the coastline and ways to adapt to sea level rise
- Share best practices on the application of maritime spatial planning to coastal adaptation, resilience, and applicable environmental assessments (EIA21, SEA22, AA23).
- Map coastal wetlands for preservation and to monitor their role as carbon sinks
- Goal 7: The fight against marine pollution
- Develop a pilot project of ‘litter-free’ coastal communities
- Make use of available tools to identify major sources, pathways and hotspots of marine litter, as well as accidental or deliberate pollution
- Promote business actions based on the circular economy, develop incentives and environmental certification schemes
- Launch joint actions to promote a public perception of the problem, e.g. beach days here communities meet to clean the beach
- Promote fishing-for-litter actions to encourage all fishermen to bring ashore the waste caught in their nets during their normal fishing operations
- Engage under OSPAR to implement collective actions of the marine litter regional action plan
- Promote coordinated and effective implementation of actions against marine litter and underwater noise required under the MSFD for the EU MS
- Support the work under the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and of Bonn and Lisbon Agreements towards effective prevention, preparedness and response to deliberate and accidental pollution
- Promote cooperation among sectors for a coordinated at-sea and shoreline response
You can find the original news article by the European Commission as well as additional information and the link to the new Atlantic Strategy Plan at https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/press/atlantic-action-plan-20-revamped-maritime-strategy-foster-sustainable-blue-economy-and-eu_en.