During the 2020 edition of the Blue Eco Forum, stakeholders from the Mediterranean region discussed the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the Blue Solidarity Economy, in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic.
On the Blue Eco Forum, Sergi Tudela, General Director of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs at the Generalitat de Catalunya; Elodie Nunes, Executive Secretary at the Intermediterranean Commission of the EU Maritime Regions; Magali Outters from the Mediterranean Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production; Victor Meseguer, Director of Social Economy Europe; Xavier Bernard Sans, Director of the Euroregion Pyrenees-Mediterranean; and Roger Albinyana, Director for Human Development at the European Institute of the Mediterranean, shared experiences on the implementation of Blue Solidarity Economy in the Mediterranean basin. In particular, they discussed the main challenges and opportunities for BSE in relation to the Covid 19 crisis. This new concept, merging the opportunities of the Sustainable Blue Economy with the benefits of the Social and Solidarity Economy is indeed particularly relevant to achieve a just and sustainable recovery.
COVID-19, an opportunity for a Paradigm shift towards BSE
Panelists all agreed that, in context of the Covid 19 reconstruction and recovery plans, a key challenge is now to benefit from the crisis to foster structural changes and promote a transition towards a just and sustainable socioeconomic model. During the dialogue, education and sensibilization, innovation, and a shift towards responsible and local production and consumption patterns, emerged as cornerstones of this transition. Elodie Nunes stressed the importance of awareness raising on the territorial impact of our economic model and on the values of BSE, especially among local population, as well as among students, as future stakeholders of tomorrow’s economy. Magali Outters and Victor Meseguer emphasized the need for innovation, and the creation of new companies and new jobs, incorporating the new social and environmental values of the BSE. To be aligned with the principles of the BSE, our current production and consumption model need to transform. Magali Outters highlighted the need of local, short-channel production and consumption patterns that would contribute to reduce carbon and emission and environmental contamination (in particular sea pollution), while also promoting local small businesses and jobs and thus beneficing directly to regional reconstruction and local communities.
The necessity of transnational, multilevel and trans-sector cooperation
All the panelist insisted on the necessity of collaboration to implement effectively BSE in a post Covid world. Xavier Bernard Sans stressed the importance of surpassing the national frontiers as well as the administrative barriers, in order to promote collaborative transnational initiatives and allow for economics of scale. Cooperation does not only need to be transnational, but also cross-sectoral and cross-levels. According to Elodie Nunes, an integrated territorial management, based on the cooperation of different actors form different economic sectors, at a local level, is of paramount importance to tackle the challenge of a just and sustainable recovery. Policies must furthermore be tailored to integrate the assets as well as the needs of each specific sector of the Blue Economy. Some support is also required to help small and medium sized actors to meet the objectives of the BSE and compensate the transition cost, especially in the context of the fragmentation of the Mediterranean economy fabric.
A local and community-based reconstruction
Finally, all the panelist stressed the paramount importance of a local-level focus when addressing the BSE issues in the Mediterranean region. Participation of local actors from all the society fields is required to guaranty a just transition and meet the values of the Social and Solidarity Economy. To Victor Meseguer, the transition must be hold by the citizens, through the intervention of local cooperatives, so that the benefices of the transition go directly to the region and its population. Xavier Bernard Sans also stressed the vital issue to implement policies for social and professional integration and protection of marginalized and vulnerable populations. In this regards, Sergi Tudela presented the 2030 Maritime Strategy of Catalonia, as an example of decentralized, local-based and participative policy, meeting the challenges and opportunities of the BSE.