On 19 and 20 May 2022 Virginijus Sinkevicius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries is co-hosting the European Maritime Day (EMD) conference, which is taking place in Ravenna in Italy.
The focus of this year’s exchanges, attracting more than 1,550 ocean stakeholders, is the contribution of a sustainable blue economy to green recovery.
“European gatherings such as this make our European commitment to cooperate and find common solutions even stronger. My ambition is to set an up to date vision for the EU as a global leader in driving ocean sustainability in line with the European Green Deal. The ocean is probably the single most important asset of our planet. If we fail to protect our ocean, we are failing to protect our identity. I am committed to ensure a sustainable future for the generations to come”, said Commissioner Sinkevicius, as he opened the EMD.
Teresa Bellanova, Vice-Minister for sustainable infrastructures and mobility, added:
“Our commitment to achieve the European Green Deal objectives, and to invest profitably the resources of Next Generation EU, of which Italy is the main beneficiary, is to enhance the maritime dimension of our economy. An effective and conscious ecological transition, based on a unitary and supranational vision of maritime spatial planning, and full respect for the marine resources, is an engine of development and economic progress”.
This edition of the EMD, which is the annual opportunity for the maritime community to get together to network, discuss and outline joint action and solutions on maritime affairs and sustainable blue economy, is full of important new EU initiatives.
Commissioner Sinkevicius has announced the launch of the EU Blue Economy Observatory, to bring together knowledge, data and scientific expertise on ocean-related socio-economic matters. It will significantly expand the analytical responsiveness and stakeholder outreach, serving as a collaborative knowledge dissemination platform to foster blue economy sectors in the EU.
He also mentioned the €2.5 Million call for proposals on “Women in the blue economy”, which was launched on 17 May. For the first time ever, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) is launching a call for proposals to promote and increase women’s participation in the blue economy.
The Commissioner also called for an investment drive for biodiversity, maritime spatial planning and for decarbonising the blue economy.
The high-level speakers at the EMD Opening Session further underlined the importance of the leadership of the EU for ocean conservation, international ocean governance and sustainable blue economy.
The thematic sessions of the EMD put the emphasis on the EU’s main policy areas and initiatives, such as smart specialisation, maritime spatial planning, ocean observation and the new Mission ‘Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030’ under the EU’s Horizon Europe research programme. The numerous parallel stakeholder workshops revealed the audience’s appetite for issues such as a Digital Twin of the Ocean, blue skills, maritime security, sustainable food systems or marine and maritime research & innovation policy.
The other key element of the EMD, taking place on the second day of the event, is the EU4Ocean Summit, opened by Commissioner Sinkevicius. The objective of the EU4Ocean coalition is to boost ocean literacy for all in Europe by bringing together citizens – in particular young people – and organisations active in ocean sustainability to exchange, share good practices and develop joint ocean literacy initiatives.