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Ocean SD for a greener Blue Economy

The European Commission is seeking to transform the EU’s Blue Economy to be more sustainable, in line with the European Green Deal. InsSciDE provided feedback to the DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on their roadmap, outlining how ocean science diplomacy can support an internationally coordinated approach to a sustainable, profitable and equitable Blue Economy.

Check out InsSciDE’s input below or view it directly on the feedback form.

Europe meets the world on the oceans: InsSciDE’s input to the European Commission on a greener Blue Economy

Europe meets the world on the oceans. Faced with intersecting threats to the Blue Economy (BE) in the form of climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean knowledge gaps, as well as maritime conflicts, a key strategy should be to leverage EU science diplomacy tools.

Ocean Science Diplomacy (OSD) is used here to broadly describe practices at the interface of national/EU interests on the oceans and related social, human and natural sciences. The practice can enable a convergence of Europe’s extensive ocean research and knowledge infrastructures to reconcile economic needs with environmental necessities of the BE, while positioning the EU as a leader in the movement towards sustainable oceans.

Anticipated outcomes of OSD in the BE:

  • Better communication – facilitated dialogue between BE stakeholders and experts in social, human, and natural sciences and technology will yield integrated and innovative solutions for sustainability
  • Boost to European ocean research – further connecting key governance and research institutions in Europe will help guide international negotiations and strengthen European ocean research
  • Balance of economic, science and national interests – joining stakeholders, social partners and research will support equitable implementation of the European Green Deal in the BE

Key actions will be:

Step up as global role model
The EU’s responsibility of a sustainable BE does not only exist on the shores of member states. Knowledge professions and diplomacy can couple to address human, social, economic and environmental sustainability, including ethical aspects, throughout the EU’s global supply chain. The global reach of the EU’s economy is a direct result of Europe’s imperial history, which leaves European island territories in every ocean. This far-reaching presence is a strength in driving forward the EU environmental agenda, but also leaves a legacy of resource and commodity conflict with the potential to unbalance and destabilise efforts to Green Deal objectives at sea. An OSD strategy designed to deal directly with the global climatic and environmental impacts of the EU’s BE, and committed to open, inclusive, transnational and cross-sectoral communication, can help cultivate the necessary synergies and trust for a unified approach.

Engage comprehensive ocean knowledge for ocean diplomacy
Comprehensive knowledge and cooperation are central to building ocean partnerships. Sustainable ocean development requires integrating environmental, technological, legal, economic, social, and humanities understanding. Embedding researchers alongside international stakeholders within the BE strategy equips the partners to confront climate change and biodiversity loss, while pursuing sustainable development of fisheries, shipping, energy, etc. OSD can help ensure that BE agreements align with the EU’s sustainability goals, while interests from across disciplines as well as national perspectives are represented in the discussion.

Capitalise on existing ocean knowledge and governance resources in Europe
Currently OSD is implemented on the global scale through United Nations organs such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Committee (IOC) at UNESCO (Paris), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) (London), or in regional fisheries management agreements. In addition to such key institutions headquartered in Europe, every EU member state has an oceanographic centre and at least one university with an institute for maritime affairs. Together with the authority of the Common Fisheries Policy, the EU can capitalise on these governance and research resources to strengthen intra-EU interactions between diplomacy and knowledge professions. They can support OSD as providers of crucial data and impact monitoring, and as platforms for placing the EU collectively as a global leader in sustainable practices on the oceans.


The feedback was written by Sam Robinson, Rasmus Bertelsen, Daniella Palmberg and Claire Mays, and submitted to the European Commission on 7 December 2020 through the ’Have your say’ portal.

Europe meets the world on the oceans: InsSciDE’s input to the European Commission on a greener Blue Economy

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