On 17 May, the European Commission adopted the Communication on a new approach for a sustainable blue economy in the EU “A Green Recovery for the Blue Economy – Transforming the EU's Blue Economy for a Sustainable Future”. This strategy sets out a detailed agenda for the sector to transition from “Blue Growth” to a sustainable blue economy, which drives the green transition, replacing unchecked expansion with clean, climate-proof and sustainable activities.
Under chapter three, the Communication emphasises the importance of improving our knowledge of the ocean and its ecosystems in supporting the development of a sustainable blue economy. It also dedicates a paragraph to the role of research and innovation through funds and initiatives under Horizon Europe, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), the new Interregional Innovation Investment initiative and the EU Climate Action Innovation Fund.
Marine and maritime research and innovation are essential for achieving the EU’s ambition to become climate-neutral by 2050, for protecting and restoring marine ecosystems and for making the blue economy a “laboratory” driving sustainable innovation forward.
R&I investment under Horizon Europe will continue to drive the transformation process to create sustainable blue economy value chains and enable the twin green and digital transitions. The Mission “Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters” and the European partnership “A climate- neutral, sustainable and productive blue economy” under Horizon Europe will play a critical role by empowering citizens and practitioners to co-design and co-implement solutions.
Horizon Europe will build on the substantial results already delivered by Horizon 2020. In support of the Commission’s Blue Growth long-term strategy, Horizon 2020 featured a number of dedicated Blue Growth calls, with a total funding of €448 million. The 66 projects funded thereunder helped to unlock the potential of the ocean, uncovered an ocean of opportunities to sustainably tap into resources from seas, ocean and inland waters for different uses and across the range of marine and maritime industries, while protecting biodiversity and enhancing climate resilience.