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Sustainable development at the Black Sea

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SUST-BLACK (Sustainable development at the Black Sea)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2019-07-31

The Black Sea is the largest land-locked sea in the world. It is unique in terms of its genesis, evolution, processes and dynamics. Due to its natural history, below the water depth of 200 metres to the abyssal part its waters are anoxic. After it passed through a major ecological crisis in the late 1980s–1990s, efforts made by the international scientific community managed to stop the abrupt decline of its ecosystems. The Black Sea is important for geopolitical reasons. It is the SE border of the EU, the boundary between Europe and Asia, and a sea where the late 2000s and early 2010s witnessed political and military conflicts.
In spite of the relatively positive trend of recovery of the Black Sea environments, there is a huge risk of regression due to uncontrolled development, or reversal to practices that were current several decades ago, at a time when climate change adds supplementary and significant pressure.
The only way forward towards a healthy, productive and resilient Black Sea, that will ensure sustainable development for its inhabitants, is through basin-wide efforts. These efforts must be coordinated and should follow a common strategy. Hence, there is an urgent need for a Strategic Agenda dedicated to the problems of the Black Sea and the means of managing them.
After a series of annual meetings of stakeholders from all Black Sea countries, in 2017 two actions started – one towards the definition of a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for the Black Sea (with the support of DG RTD), the other towards the definition and approval of a wider Maritime Agenda (with the support of DG MARE).
The efforts of the scientific community resulted first in the creation of the Burgas Vision Paper, launched on May 31st, 2018, during the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council. This document paved the way to the completion of a full Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for the Black Sea, to be launched during the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council as a dedicated Presidency Event – the „Conference for Sustainable Development at the Black Sea” (SUST-BLACK).
SUST-BLACK was aimed to present the SRIA in an effective way, by involving not only all the stakeholders dealing with marine sciences around the Black Sea basin and elsewhere in Europe and in the Global Ocean.
SUST-BLACK aimed also to gather the most significant personalities in marine sciences and other stakeholders, from the relevant programmes, initiatives and research infrastructures from all over Europe, in a forum for best practice exchange.
The main objectives of the SUST-BLACK project were to finalise the SRIA and to prepare the Conference where the SRIA would be presented, as well as the final document of the Conference (the Bucharest Declaration).
The specific objectives are listed below – they were all fulfilled by activities developed during the project, which fall into several directions:
-Preparation and finalisation of the SRIA (including the preparation of the digital and paper formats) and of the Bucharest Declaration;
-Preparation of the Conference concept, structure and agenda, together with the Organising Committee (from the EC, Romanian Ministries of Research and Innovation and Foreign Affairs, local authorities, NGOs, and other representatives of the scientific community);
-Definition of the list of speakers, other guests and participants to be invited, aiming to include all the representative institutions, projects and initiatives in the fields of sustainability, circular economy and Blue Growth in all European marine and maritime basins (together with the Organising Committee). This was followed by the process of inviting them to the event and accommodation etc of the sponsored participants;
-Dissemination of the event (date and place of the Conference) around the national, Black Sea and wider community of researchers and stakeholders;
-Preparation of the Conference in terms of practicalities (conference hall, other rooms, conference catering, preparation of the Conference Excursion);
-Preparation of all visual identity materials, building the web page, development of the IT&C tools (including for the Live Streaming of the Conference);
-Preparation for the event in Mass Media, both with introduction to the Black Sea, its problems and efforts for a better understanding of its environment, and with interviews on the SRIA development process and importance of the event.
The SUST-BLACK Conference took place on May 8-9 (at the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest) and 10-11 (the Technical Excursion to the Razelm Sinoie Lagoon System – part of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve). After the event the activities to strengthen the implementation of the Black Sea SRIA were continued by the project team, together with the support of the Romanian Ministry for Research and Innovation, Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Commission and other main actors involved in the Conference. Thus, the SRIA was presented and endorsed by the EU ministers of research at the COMPET Council meeting organised in Bucharest (April 4th, 2019). The SRIA was integrally included in the document dealing with Science and Innovation in the wider Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea, endorsed by the ministers of the six riparian countries and the Republic of Moldova (together with the EC and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation) at the Ministerial Meeting in Bucharest, on May 21st, 2019.The Black Sea SRIA was also presented at a series of European and international specific events, the most relevant being the EUROCEAN Conference, held in Paris on June 10-11, 2019.
In addition to the activities to promote, disseminate and endorse at international and European level, Romania is currently undertaking sustained efforts to introduce the SRIA into its national strategy for research and innovation for 2021–2027 (currently under development), and in other documents and strategies (for water management, Marine Spatial Planning, local administrations of coastal communities).
Probably the most important progress beyond the state of the art is the existence of the SRIA itself.
There has never been a basin-wide strategy aimed at the profound understanding of the Black Sea ecosystems and processes, in a manner that can support sustainable development of the coastal communities.
The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for the Black Sea is the first such document, and it represents a major step change in the plans towards implementation of Blue Growth in a healthy and resilient Black Sea.
The main achievement of the Conference results is demonstrated by: inclusion in the conclusions of the Meeting of the Presidency of the EU Council in June 18, 2019 as an official document; endorsement of the Bucharest Declaration contents (the Black Sea SRIA) at the COMPET Meeting on April 4th, 2019, in Bucharest.
The Maritime Agenda of the Black Sea, which included the SRIA and the Bucharest Declaration, was endorsed by all the Black Sea governments at the Ministerial Meeting on May 21st, 2019. The participants were from the Black Sea Region countries plus DG MARE, European External Action and the Black Sea Commission for Economic Cooperation.
Another impact regards the fact that now basin-wide cooperation is open with all the other initiatives to support blue growth in the other European seas. The impact at local level has been mainly at the level of educating local managers and local communities.
young scientists
SRIA Family picture
SUST-BLACK participants picture
introductory speeches
part of the audience
presenting SRIA