In 2019 the European Commission asked potential partners to further elaborate proposals for the candidate European Partnerships identified during the strategic planning of Horizon Europe. The process led to a portfolio of 49 European Partnerships. Among them is the Partnership ‘A climate neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy’, in brief ‘Sustainable Blue Economy’ partnership (SBE). The Partnership aim is to combine and align pan-European, regional and national investments and the identified socio-political priorities for marine and maritime research and innovation. This will offer a value proposition that signifies high return on public investments through collaboration and prospect for sustainable maritime economic development.
The core group of formal members and signatories will be comprised of relevant ministries, funding and other relevant agencies, as well as public or private legal entities from EU Member States and Associated Countries. The European Commission will participate to the Steering Committee, the strategic governing body of the partnership.
Currently, the partners of the consortium, under the coordination of Italy and co-coordination of Norway, are preparing the submission of a proposal for the partnership. This will mark the culmination of an elaborate co-creation process over the last two years.
An early draft Partnership Proposal outlining ideas for the general positioning of the partnership was submitted to the European Commission in July 2020. Initial resource commitments from Member States to the partnerships were made in autumn 2020. A public consultation contributed to the partnership’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) in November/ December 2020 and provided the basis of a consultation draft report. The Draft SRIA was delivered and validated by the EC, Member States and Associated Countries in February 2021.
The Sustainable Blue Economy partnership is included in the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-22 as a co-funded partnership. The European Commission has launched the respective partnership call in October 2021. Submission deadline is 10 March 2022. The partnership is expected to launch in late 2022. It will be implemented through three grant agreements over the course of the Horizon Europe term. JPI Oceans is proposed to lead the partnership’s communication work package.
February 2021: Draft Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda
In February 2020, Member State delegates, representatives of the Sea-basins Initiatives and the European Commission delivered a draft Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), coordinated by the JPI Oceans Secretariat. The draft SRIA provided the legal basis for the inclusion of the Sustainable Blue Economy partnership call in the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2021-22.
The SRIA is a framework of agreed high-level ideas for thematic partnership priorities, on which the development of Annual Work Plans by the formal parties to the Partnership will be based. The SRIA will be subject to revision to ensure its strategic relevance is maintained over the course of the partnership.
This SRIA builds on the analysis, priority setting, and stakeholder consultation performed while developing the strategic agendas of regional and pan-European initiatives. Regional-scale strategic agendas revealed important knowledge gaps and associated R&I themes of high relevance, shared across sea basins. It inspired the architecture of a pan-European agenda for the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership, with four high-level thematic pillars under which priority R&I objectives were clustered: 1) A blue economy in harmony with nature, 2) Blue economy solutions towards climate neutrality, 3) A thriving blue economy for the people, 4) Integrated and responsible ocean governance.
The pillars reflect the transformative change required to achieve a sustainable transition of the blue economy that will benefit people, planet and economy. Pillars 1-3 relate to the three blue economy aspects mentioned in the Partnership title, namely sustainability, climate neutrality and productivity. In the context of this Partnership, these key terms are considered in the broad sense of their meaning. Sustainability refers to a desired system that reconciles long-term environmental and economic health. Climate neutrality includes the goal of a net zero effect of all activities on the climate system throughout entire value chains and considering socioeconomic climate resilience. The term productivity refers to a sustainable blue economy‘s contribution to secure provision of requirements for the well-being of all people, such as sustainable jobs, income, food, health, safety and recreation.
Pillars 1-3 are connected by the integrative element of governance represented by pillar 4. While governance is relevant to all pillars, its critical importance in achieving the aims of the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership and its outstanding relevance for European countries and the European Union, means it is afforded its own pillar and associated R&I objectives.
Seven cross-cutting key enablers have been identified. They connect and support all four pillars. These enablers are essential catalysts to achieve the objectives of all four thematic pillars, but do not themselves have R&I objectives associated with them.