Research and Innovation (R&I) is regarded as central to fostering a sustainable Blue Economy, fulfilling the goals laid out in the European Green Deal, and facilitating economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis. R&I is ideally placed to set the course, address synergies and trade-offs, and leverage the full range of EU instruments, available to enable the EU's ambition for green and digital transitions.
A forward-looking, mission-oriented, and impact-focused research and innovation agenda helps foster long-term development of the Blue Economy. R&I facilitates science and evidence-based policymaking which leads to successful measures being taken for the benefit of society and the environment. Quality-controlled and harmonised marine data and observations from various disciplines and human activities, which enhance the understanding of marine ecosystems and their (cumulative) consequences, are crucial for the Blue Economy's long-term development.
Projects supporting this transformation include;
Horizon Europe: (2021-2027): The policy instruments of the Horizon Europe funding programme (which go beyond the traditional R&I topics) will actively foster the green and digital transitions. At least 35% of the programme’s seven-year budget of EUR 94.4 billion will be devoted to climate-related actions, which will include supporting the transition of maritime industries to climate neutrality.
European Partnership for a climate-neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy:
This is a co-funded European Partnership, which aims to create a climate-neutral, sustainable and productive Blue Economy. It targets the European Green Deal and Digital Europe objectives and contributes to the Global Earth Observing System. Thanks to the integration of sea-basin efforts and plans, its impact will be felt at local, regional, national, and international levels.
Horizon 2020 (2013-2020): As the predecessor of the Horizon Europe programme, Horizon 2020 was the largest European funding programme which contributed greatly to sustainable Blue Economy development by investing in research and innovation, serving as a buffer to the impacts of global warming and providing opportunities for new human activities. This was particularly relevant to the Blue Economy in view of marine litter and marine pollution, among others. A total of EUR 79 billion went into R&I.
This financing aided in the effective monitoring, understanding, protection, preservation and utilisation of the oceans. The European Green Deal initiative, worth EUR 1 billion and the final and most significant call of Horizon 2020, accelerated the sustainable transition to a climate-neural Europe. It promoted a digital ocean twinning, the restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the testing and demonstration of systemic innovations in support of the Farm2Fork strategy. The results of the projects funded by Horizon 2020 will help Europe recover from the COVID-19 crisis by turning green challenges into opportunities for innovation.