Research and Innovation (R&I) is regarded as a central driver for fostering a sustainable Blue Economy, fulfilling the goals laid out in the European Green Deal, and recovering after the COVID-19 crisis. R&I is ideally placed to steer the direction, address synergies and trade-offs, and leverage the full range of EU instruments, consequently enabling the twin green and digital transitions.
A research and innovation agenda that is forward-looking, mission-oriented, and impact-focused leads to long-term Blue Economic development. Science and evidence-based policymaking are encouraged by R&I, which leads to successful measures. Furthermore, quality-controlled and harmonised marine data and observation from diverse disciplines and human activities are crucial for the Blue Economy's long-term development. It enhances the understanding of marine ecosystems and their (cumulative) consequences.
Projects supporting this transformation include;
Horizon Europe: The Horizon Europe Framework Programme, with its policy instruments beyond the traditional R&I topics, will actively foster green and digital transitions. The Programme has a budget of EUR 94.4 billion over seven years (2021-2027), of which at least 35% will be devoted to climate-related actions, 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 Green Deal, Digital Europe objectives and contributes to the Global Earth Observing System. Thanks to the integration of sea-basin efforts and plans, the impact will be delivered 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 to provide opportunities for new human activities. To the Blue Economy, this was particularly relevant in view of marine litter and marine pollution, among others. A total of EUR 79 billion went to research and innovation.
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 is the final and most significant call of Horizon 2020, accelerated the sustainable transition to a climate-neural Europe. It promoted a digital ocean twinning, restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services, and testing and demonstrating systemic innovations in support of the Farm2Fork strategy due to the maritime dimension. The projects that result will help Europe recover from the COVID-19 crisis by turning green challenges into opportunities for innovation.