European maritime community calls after sustainable blue growth and investments

More than 1100 participants gathered in Finnish maritime capital Turku on 18 - 19 May 2016 for the European maritime community´s annual meeting point European Maritime Day to network, discuss and foster future developments. The theme of the conference was Investing in competitive blue growth - smart and sustainable solutions.

- Throughout the world, more and more opportunities for 'blue' growth and jobs are being identified. The EU is in the lead on several blue economy technologies, such as renewable energy or clean shipping. We are leading because we have invested. Our commitment to sustainability is what gives us our competitive edge and what will open up new global business opportunities for our industry, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella stated in the press release.

- Blue Growth has immense untapped potential for creating jobs, growth, and investments. We need investments in the blue economy. And we emphasize smart, sustainable approaches to save our seas and oceans, emphasized Mayor of Turku Aleksi Randell in his opening speech.

Within the conference there were some twenty workshops and five thematic sessions. Discussions covered a wide range of topics such as innovation, smart specialisation and sustainable solutions for blue growth, potential and challenges for sectors like cruise tourism and ocean energy among others.

The key messages emerging from the two intense days of debate include:

  • Clusters are enablers that can connect good ideas – of SMEs and others – to industry partners and finance providers and help drive transitions to new blue growth activities.
  • Sectors such as ocean energy provide massive opportunities for growth, jobs and global environmental gains; we should not be discouraged by the challenges that are still outstanding, but should tackle them gradually and keep a long term focus.
  • Ocean Energy also shows how important it is to prioritise strategic investments that provide returns not only in economic terms but also in terms of climate and environmental benefits.
  • Access to finance continues to be a challenge. Policy makers have a huge responsibility to strengthen risk guarantees, cut red tape and ensure stable regulatory environments.
  • Action at regional level has a huge role to play in boosting blue growth. The most advanced regions are systematically developing their transnational partnerships to maximise their potential and bundle strengths. This could be further facilitated through wider blue growth platforms that could turn the ambitions of these actors into concrete and joint investments.
  • If we are to get a return from all the investments in innovation and infrastructure, developing skills is critical. It is hard to predict what future jobs will entail, so it is important to educate also for the 'unknown'.
  • The element to emphasise when attracting capable and motivated young people to maritime careers is not just the purely technical interest of the profession but also the role of 'steward of the oceans'.
  • Blue Growth can only thrive within a strong and reliable international ocean governance system, for which intense cooperation and stricter implementation and enforcement globally are needed.

Read more from the European Commission's Maritime affairs website.

 

EMD Conference in Turku called after blue investments and concrete solutions. (Credits to City of Turku / Kari Vainio)