INNOVATION POLICIES AND THE BLUE BIOECONOMY IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA

PANORAMED’s work on innovation reached a very important milestone back in January 2020 with the presentation of the Gaps and Growth Opportunities Report for this thematic area. The document is structured in two parts that focus, respectively, on the potential of blue biotechnology and the better governance of innovation policies. Dr. Andrea Barbanti introduces the analysis carried out and shares his insights with us.

Blue Growth is recognised at global scale as a promise for socio-economic development and human well-being. However, the UN Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) challenge us to achieve “Sustainable Blue Growth”, recognising present and future Planetary Boundaries and highlighting the potential incompatibility with business as usual growth.

The Mediterranean, a place where we could forecast and even dream of a Mediterranean “Blue Gold Rush”, represents a live laboratory to exploit potentials, test processes and practices, monitor and evaluate results, due to its quite peculiar environmental, economic and geopolitical characteristics.

Several ongoing Policy Strategies and Initiatives, at the International, EU and national level will be further developed and implemented in the next years, designing a complex policy ecosystem that outlines both boundary conditions and key enablers. In particular, the new Programming Period (2021-2027) is being finalised in the EU and will address, among others, Cohesion, International Cooperation, Research and Innovation, Environment and Climate, Strategic Investments policies.

In this complex environment, PANORAMED plays an important role representing the multi-level governance pillar of the Interreg MED Programme. PANORAMED Steering Group recently proposed a new Strategic Work Package on Innovation, focusing in particular on Blue Bioeconomy. This surely was a wise and forward-looking decision, complementing other streams already active under PANORAMED (i.e. sustainable tourism and surveillance) and under the MED Programme as a whole (i.e. blue and green growth, sustainable tourism, energy, biodiversity protection, etc.). Nowadays, Blue Bioeconomy offers largely underexploited potentials in the Mediterranean, it is part of the overall EU Bioeconomy Strategy and Circular Economy Package and it connects, directly or indirectly, with several other sectors of the Blue Economy (e.g. fisheries, aquaculture, energy, tourism, conservation, etc.). 

The Gaps and Growth Opportunities Report (GGOR) is an essential step under PANORAMED towards the identification and the implementation of strategic actions for the short and the medium-long term. The two parts on which the Report is structured complement each other, offering a more technical (Part 1) or a more governance/policy oriented (Part 2) perspective. Stemming from a thorough conceptual analysis and framework that identifies in: 

  1. R&I feeding value chains,
  2. New business models and
  3. Multi-actors governance models the three key drivers, the Report proposes a long list of interlinked “possible actions” or “opportunities for growth”, building a complex, but conceptually well integrated, toolbox for technical/technological, socio-economic, capacity building and policy measures. Several good practices are also presented, qualifying then the state of the art and the ongoing processes and experiences.

Among several relevant messages reported, the importance of strengthening at local level the Bioeconomy Innovation Ecosystem through Living Labs and other forms of interaction between science, SMEs/industry, policy makers, society and the proactive role that Public Administrations can play to promote R&I and emerging business models and ensure coherent (i.e. horizontal, vertical, temporal and territorial coherence) innovation policies seems particularly important. 

Although Interreg MED mainly regards EU countries, a pan-Mediterranean vision and approach, promoting cooperation with non-EU countries, is highly recommended, in line with PANORAMED specific objectives and with most of the ongoing regional Strategies and Initiatives (e.g. BLUEMED, WestMED, EUSAIR, UNEP-MAP, CPMR, UfM, GFCM, PRIMA).

BLUEMED has identified Blue Bioeconomy and Blue Biotechnologies as one of the priorities from its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) (Challenges “Innovative Blue Growth trajectories: biotechnologies, food and the deep sea resources” and “Innovative businesses based on marine bio-resources”), with the specific objectives of improving the knowledge of the Blue Biotechnologies, studying and defining their economic potential, supporting their development and implementing shared policies within the Mediterranean basin for a sustainable exploitation of marine bio-resources and/or biomasses. 

Therefore, BLUEMED welcomes PANORAMED Innovation on Blue Bioeconomy, and looks forward to continuing the established collaboration, towards a strategic Alliance for Blue Bioeconomy in the Mediterranean, involving in a joint effort the scientific community, business operators and administrators.

 

 

Dr. Andrea Barbanti has a PhD in Earth Sciences and a background in environmental geochemistry and coastal oceanography. He is Research Manager at National Research Council - Institute of Marine Sciences (CNR-ISMAR), where he develops science-to-policy activities and research initiatives promoting Blue Growth at national and EU level, focusing on the Mediterranean basin. He is member of the Project Management Team of BLUEMED Coordination and Support Action and coordinator of the BLUEMED Policy Platform. He is coordinating or is involved since 2012 in several IT and EU projects dealing with Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) (e.g. RITMARE, ADRIPLAN, MUSES, SUPREME, SIMWESTMED, PORTODIMARE, PHAROS4MPAs), developing and testing approaches and tools for MSP in the Adriatic-Ionian Region and the Mediterranean and supporting in all aspects the MSP implementation process.