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12.06.2018 12:40

The Baltic, the Med, and the Black Sea together for cross-regional cooperation on blue growth

Photo: Margherita Cappelletto, BLUEMED
The workshop on ‘Added value of cross-regional cooperation’ jointly organised by BONUS represented by Andris Andrusaitis (right), BLUEMED by Andrea Barbanti (middle), and the Black Sea Commission by Irina Makarenko (left), during the EMD2018 in Burgas on 31 May 2018.

Katherine_Angell-Hansen_JPIO at EMD 2018 WS
Photo: Maija Sirola, BONUS
The meeting chaired by Kathrine Angell-Hansen (see photo on left) from JPI Oceans was the first opportunity to discuss on how to cooperate among sea-basins. Each initiative, at different level of maturity, is making efforts to pool resources towards the implementation of blue growth objectives through basin oriented actions. Nevertheless, cross-basin cooperation is recognised as of fundamental importance in order not only to share practices and methodologies but also knowledge, collaboration on common topics, for example on climate change and circular economy, and thus unlocking increasing opportunities. The welcome address of the workshop was given by the Black Sea Commissioner of Bulgaria and Deputy Minister of Environment Atanaska Nikolova.


The over 100 participants who attended the workshop filled the room with positive energy and active participation. Interventions made by the participants emphasised a commonly shared view across the room of the critical importance of cross-regional collaboration amongst the R&I initiatives of different regional seas. For example, Director-General Adrian Stanica of GEOECOMAR, Romania, noted that “large and unique research infrastructures form yet another reason for regional seas programmes to cooperate" and Director of European and international relations Gilles Lericolais of IFREMER, France, brought up France’s already vested partnership in the BONUS successor programme of the joint Baltic Sea and the North Sea research and innovation programme and also the importance of other regional initiatives in the pipeline such as the Atlantic Ocean research and innovation cooperation initiative.


Director Baris Salihoglu, Institute of Marine Sciences, Turkey introduced in his intervention the development to date of the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). On the day before, the 5th workshop of experts from Black Sea countries convened and took decisive steps in the Black Sea SRIA process which had begun already in 2017. Also BONUS and BLUEMED were invited to share their experiences of processes in this Commission supported meeting. As a result, the Burgas Vision Paper addressing the key pillars on which the strategic agenda will be built was agreed and launched by Sigi Gruber, Head of Marine Resources Unit, DG R&I during the afternoon plenary session of the EMD2018 that followed immediately after the joint Baltic, the Med and Black Sea workshop. All in all, as an outcome of the workshop, it is safe to say that all involved left with a forward looking view of the next chapter to come in this regional seas’ R&I initiatives cooperation story.


Three conclusions of the workshop shared with all the EMD 2018 participants after the workshop:

1: what has been learned: Regional seas’ research and innovation programmes provide strong added value to the current regional, European and wider agendas in the field of blue growth and jobs

What needs to be done: Efficiency and impact of these programmes can be significantly enhanced by sharing the best practice and lessons learned


 2: What has been learned: The overarching challenge in different regional seas of Europe is common: developing full potential of the blue growth while achieving and maintaining good environmental status of the sea (SDGs, EU directives etc).

What needs to be done: Unifying approaches & setting common targets through identification of potential synergies and developing culture for exchanging the best practice among different European ‘sister’ programmes


3: what has been learned: The rapid developments in the past decade show that now is the best time for initiating cooperation among European regional R&I initiatives & programmes in support of sustainable blue growth!

What needs to be done: Exploring the best ways for establishing a systematic cooperation network among these initiatives and programmes

BONUS exhibition at the EMD 2018

Photo: Willem De Moor, JPI Oceans


BONUS Secretariat members in discussion with Commissioner Karmenu Vella during the European Maritime Day 2018 in Burgas: “We need more dialogue between regional seas R&I initiatives.”   


Further reading on the topic:

‘Forging the fellowship of regional seas’ research and innovation programmes’ by BONUS, BLUEMED and the Black Sea Commission (BONUS in Brief May 2018, pp. 4-5)

BLUEMED article

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