Water as an economic engine was the focus of an international forum that brought together representatives of 6 different maritime regions of Europe and was organized by the Provincial Council of Tarragona, Spain. It took place in the capital of the Costa Daurada, Salou, on March 10, 2023.
Ina Agafonova, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the DINT Foundation and member of the Board of Directors of the Southeast Digital Innovation Hub, participated as a panelist on the topic “Regional Policies to Promote a Sustainable and Innovative Blue Economy: Strategies of the European Sea Basins”, at the invitation of the Administration of the Province of Tarragona, Spain.
The “New Approach for a Sustainable Blue Economy” approved by the European Union in 2021 and in line with the Green Deal seeks synergies in the maritime space, emphasizing the need to invest in research, capacity building and innovation of all actors in the blue ecosystem.
In this context, an interregional meeting “Approaches to a Sustainable Blue Economy” brought together 15 leading experts, practitioners, educators and researchers to exchange and share their experiences and research findings on various aspects of a sustainable blue economy and for attendees to learn first-hand about the challenges, proposals and good practices to promote a sustainable blue economy, with the aim of contributing to the generation of new opportunities in Southern Catalonia and Europe and to promote the connection between actors from different European sea basins from the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
The sessions were aimed at public and private actors from Southern Catalonia and Europe, representing different regions and entities related to blue economy activities, both in traditional and emerging sectors, facing challenges from research, policies, sustainable economic growth and technological and social innovation.
On the Bulgarian side, participated as speakers, Ina Agafonova, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the DINT Foundation and member of the Board of Directors of the Southeast Digital Innovation Hub, Burgas, with a report “The Case of the Black Sea. The Blue Economy of Burgas, Bulgaria” and Nebi Kehaya, Executive Director of LIFG Burgas-Kameno with the “Black Sea Multi-agency Cooperation Model”.
The event was opened with a welcome from the representative of the Area of European Projects and the Region of Knowledge of the Council of the Province of Tarragona and a report on “The European Vision: Promoting a Sustainable Blue Economy” by Iglika Yakova, Deputy Head of the “Maritime Strategies” Department basins”, Unit for Regional Maritime Cooperation and Maritime Security, DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission (online).
In the working session “Regional Policies to Promote a Sustainable and Innovative Blue Economy: European Sea Basin Strategies”, reports were given by:
- Rosario Allué Puyuelo – Deputy General Director of Maritime Policy, Control and Training at the General Directorate of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of Catalonia – “The Maritime Strategy of Catalonia”
- Ina Agafonova, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the DINT Foundation and member of the Board of Directors of the Southeast Digital Innovation Hub, Burgas, Bulgaria – “The Case of the Black Sea. The Blue Economy of Burgas, Bulgaria”
- Paula Biveson, Project and Communications Advisor, Centrum Balticum, Turku, Finland – “The Case of the Baltic Sea”.
In the working session “The blue Economy as an Opportunity for Sustainable Growth and Interregional Cooperation”, speakers were:
- Erika Zavackienė, Innovation Manager, Klaipeda Science and Technology Park, Klaipeda, Lithuania
- Nebi Kehaya, Executive Director, LIFG Burgas-Kameno – . “The Black Sea Multi-Agent Cooperation Model”.
- Mayte Corbino Pubil, CEO, Blue Ocean Nutrition, Spain – “The Vision of the Final Beneficiary in Relation to the Opportunities for Interregional Cooperation”.
In the session “Opportunities for Interregional Cooperation in the Blue Economy”, reports were presented by:
- Lila Pera, Department of Marine Studies, University of Piraeus, Greece – “The BlueAir Project”.
- Marta Nello, Professor at the Department of Geography at the University Rovira i Virgilio, Tarragona, Spain and Alba Font, Researcher at the Department of Geography at the University Rovira i Virgilio – “The Blue Spaces and Coastal Wellbeing Project”.
- Javier Remiro, Sustainable Blue Economy Zone, Fundación Biodiversidad, Spain – “Funding opportunities related to the blue economy”.
The working session on creating an interregional network and generating possible projects for the blue economy with a European dimension ended with “Concluding Remarks” by Juan Antonio Duro, Vice-Rector of Economy, Infrastructure and Institutional Relations, Rovira y Virgil University, Tarragona, Spain.
Each speaker had 15 minutes to present the strategy/initiative, followed by a moderated discussion. The interest in the report on Burgas was great and it gave the participants the opportunity to get to know an active place for life and business, effectively using its potential for balanced and sustainable integrated development, with preserved local identity and access to a modern, resource-efficient, climate-adaptive and competitive economy, ensuring intelligent economic growth, spatial connectivity and access to services.