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Coastal communities and Blue Society

Initiatives presented during a European Maritime Days workshop will help to promote a blue society

Athens – 29 May 2015 | Promoting a Blue Society requires the cooperation of different actors, the participation of civil society and informed action. Innovative initiatives such as PERSEUS Project, Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI), Sea for society and the Mediterranean Marinescapes Observatory are key contributors to that process

Twenty of the twenty-one EU countries with a coastline have signed the European Landscape Convention. The convention states that a landscape is an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and/or interaction of natural and cultural factors. The convention also explicitly extends to include marinescapes. The convention clearly states that everyone has a right and a responsibility to landscapes and marinescapes and this clearly means people have a right to participate in relation to the future of marinescapes.

Several countries have started implementing this convention in order to improve the way in which the coastal and marine landscapes of their territories are developed, planned, managed and protected. The convention seeks the broad involvement of the public in such processes and the sharing of responsibility among all actors. CIVILSCAPE, a network of 112 civil society organisations with expertise and interests in landscape and marinescape issues, organises Landscape Forum events to bring different stakeholders together to discuss matters of common concern. In this respect, Med-INA has, on behalf of the CIVILSCAPE network, organised the Marinescape Forum Piraeus 2015 on the two days preceding European Maritime Day.

The intention of the Forum was to foster cooperative action for the sustainable development of Mediterranean marinescapes. Such cross sectoral action is necessary in working towards a Blue Society. There is a need for greater awareness and new forms of governance of Maritime space. A Marinescapes approach will strengthen the health and well-being of people and of the marine environment.

Sea for society, a Mobilisation and Mutual Learning Action Plan with support from DG Research and Innovation brings together representatives from various marine and maritime fields and strives to better define and promote the Blue Society: how can we collectively make a better use of the ocean potential for our Future, while preserving its natural capital? In this regard, Stakeholders and Young Citizens’ consultations throughout 9 European countries have showed the need for more awareness of marine issues amongst all parties involved in support of positive attitudes and initiatives, and for a more efficient institutional framework for maritime governance. Based on these consultation results, and with the help of a multi-disciplinary Blue Society Expert group, some first Blue society principles have been developed and are being promoted through a Citizens’ promise and a Stakeholders’commitment.
The Blue Society considers the entire ocean (including seas and coasts) as the common heritage and collective responsibility of all nations on the planet. It aims to mainstream ocean issues into an integrated land and ocean policymaking process and to continuously improve management practices and policy on the base of new scientific knowledge and technological innovation . For that to happen, outreach and engagement must bring together citizens and stakeholders.

PERSEUS, an integrated marine science to policy research project, is addressing actual needs and ongoing change through initiatives such as the environmental impact analysis in ports. (http://www.eports.cat). The presented tool (TEAP Tool for the identification and assessment of Environmental Aspects in Ports) has been developed to assist ports in identifying significant environmental issues and in assessing their significance, helping them to improve environmental performance and reduce the pressure on the environment. This is an excellent example of policy-oriented marine environmental research, which recognizes the need for delivering science-based tools to policy makers and administration; the key theme of PERSEUS project.

A current initiative in Piraeus provides a good example for vibrant ports around the Mediterranean Sea. Looking back on a 2500 year history, Piraeus is today the biggest port in Greece with a still strong economy. On the other hand, the city is facing up to 30 % unemployment, mainly of the younger generation, which reflects the drastic changes of the last decades. Piraeus is taking the initiative to handle this challenge and to foster more Blue Growth in a sustainable way. Again this needs strong participation in an ongoing change process that has also taken into account the cultural and natural heritage. Piraeus has a Blue Growth potential that has to be unlocked through establishing an integrated territorial strategy for sustainable urban development of the city by implementing the Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) tool. Within the context of new governance, the ITI assists in balancing investment and other interests.

The participants in the Marinescape Forum Piraeus 2015 have formulated the Piraeus Statement, which provides a platform for diverse actors to cooperate in action for sustainable marinescapes. The participants in the forum also proposed the establishment of a Mediterranean Marinescape Observatory which is a means of putting the marinescapes approach into practice. A marinescapes approach recognizes the inter-dependency of culture, society, economy and environment and the need for greater cooperation, participation and action to secure and/or improve the quality of life and environment of the peoples of the Mediterranean

Initiatives such as these will help to promote a blue society.

 

Further Information

CIVILSCAPE Office Bonn
Dirk Gotzmann
Adenauerallee 68
53113 Bonn
Germany
Tel.: +49 (228) 299711-00 or -01
Fax: +49 (228) 299711-09
E-Mail: dirk.gotzmann@civilscape.eu

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