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Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BLUEMED (BLUEMED)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

In the framework of the European Commission Blue Growth Strategy, the BLUEMED research and innovation initiative for blue growth and jobs in the Mediterranean Area was launched to tap the full potential of the marine and maritime sectors, structuring transnational cooperation to create new ‘blue’ jobs and improve social wellbeing, sustainable prosperity and the good environmental status of the region. To this end, the BLUEMED Coordination and Support Action will build solid backbones to support the development of the initiative, including beyond the end of the project.
A Consortium of 11 partners from 9 different European countries led by the National Research Council of Italy has been working since October 2016 to create synergies and complementarities among different stakeholders in order to structure cooperation for advancing the BLUEMED Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) in the Euro-Mediterranean Region. Targeting multiple stakeholders, all relevant players need to be involved in the process of sharing and consolidating the Research and Innovation agenda, including national ministries, regional authorities, research organizations, research infrastructures, academia, private companies, non-governmental and international organizations and civil society.
Among the seas of Europe, the Mediterranean has no match as regards biodiversity and the links between human activities and environmental characteristics. It is changing fast in response to both natural and anthropogenic pressures. Climate change, growing maritime traffic and pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks and invasions of alien species are among the stressors placing the region at risk. At the same time, the Mediterranean’s unique features provide major local opportunities for blue growth and jobs, ranging from fisheries to tourism.

The BLUEMED CSA project will implement necessary tools to:
- support the Euro-Mediterranean Group of Senior Officials BlueMed Working Group steering the BlueMed Initiaitve, co-chaired by the DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission and the current co-chair of the Union for the Mediterranean, the country of Jordan, and composed by officially appointed delegates from the Mediterranean countries;
- jointly integrate, update, and consolidate the SRIA and develop the Implementation Plan through a working environment based on dialogue to connect communities, contributing to reduce fragmentation and facilitate cooperation among people;
- engage EU and non-EU countries for a global perspective of the Mediterranean Basin;
- connect key players investing in research and innovation at regional, national, European, and Med level;
- address the framework conditions, e.g. infrastructures, data, and human resources, deemed necessary to enable blue growth actions;
- foster innovative multidisciplinary research and innovation activities addressing relevant Mediterranean challenges via piloting Start-up Actions paving the way towards more ambitious blue growth trajectories;
- spread the vision of the Mediterranean Basin as a hotspot for innovation.
The work performed has been dedicated to the full exploitation of the mechanisms guaranteeing the support to the BLUEMED Initiative, with particular reference to the extension to the selection of the BLUEMED SRIA priorities for implementation at Mediterranean level. Following the set-up of the project machinery and governance, the engagement and consultation systems to structure communities at national and Mediterranean level, the achieved results include:
- Publication of the updated version of the SRIA;
- Selection of 13 priority goals for implementation;
- Support to the Pilot Action on Healthy Plastic-free Mediterranean Sea;
- Release of the renewed BLUEMED website and the communication kit;
- Running, including via the organization of three meetings, of 4 BLUEMED Platforms on Knowledge, Economy, Technology, and Policy joined by officially appointed experts named National Pivots for updating the SRIA and contributing to the Implementation Plan;
- Organization of two research funders’ workshops to build the BLUEMED Operational Network of Research Funders and Key Players for the implementation of the actions;
- Lay of the foundations through assessment and mapping of relevant framework conditions enabling the blue growth: publication of the metrics and risk assessment plan for monitoring the actions, the Research Infrastructures (RIs) assessment, the data policies and accessibility plan, and the BLUE careers plan to feed the Implementation Plan;
- Organization of the first BLUEMED Research Infrastructures’ (RIs) workshop and the RIs Stakeholders' Conference towards the definition of the BLUEMED RIs Roadmap;
- Launch and implementation of four Start-up Actions;
- Organization of two meetings with coordinators’ of relevant projects to promote the sharing of the process under the BLUEMED umbrella and possible uptake of results;
- Engagement of non-EU countries, including a preliminary review and analysis of the strategies, policies and R&I priorities in the marine and maritime sectors of 14 non‐EU Med countries, the organisation of the policy dialogue workshop within the 1st UfM Stakeholders’ Conference on the Blue Economy (2017) and participation to the meetings of the BLUEMED Platforms.
- Selection of five Young Communication Ambassadors from non-EU countries.
The work conducted so far led to the enhancement of the BLUEMED framework and recognition of the leading role on R&I in the Basin. This has been possible thanks to the collaboration with the steering Group of Senior Officials BLUEMED Working Group and the inclusive approach pursued in engaging different stakeholders, positively impacting also at national level in structuring the 'blue' communities. Mediterranean countries now co-own the same Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and shared thirteen priorities for implementation.
Triggering the process of maximising the impact of marine and maritime research, the project put in place tools such as the dialogue Platforms and the Operational Network of Research Funders for enhancing the cooperation between Research Funding Agencies and other investors, is contributing to build a long-term transnational framework for action at Mediterranean level.
The participation of the BLUEMED as an established Blue Growth Initiative has been also guaranteed in the framework of key events organized by relevant organizations e.g. UfM, CPRM, WESTMED, EUSAIR, European Maritime Day, etc., and by dialoguing with the other Basins.
The achieved results include: 1 consolidated Strategic R&I Agenda; 4 Platforms established; 1 Operational Network of R&I funders and key players built; 4 Start-up Actions launched; n+1 people engaged in the BLUEMED community; n+1 projects and initiatives connected; 5 BLUEMED Young Communication Ambassadors selected; full support given to the Pilot Action on Healthy Plastic-free Mediterranean Sea.
The release of the Implementation Plan sketching economy driven trajectories is expected before the end as legacy of the project to be projected in the next programming phase.
Potential impacts are thus connected to the promotion of the priorities for futher implementation: the project is committed to transfer the results, stimulating new and cutting-edge integrated activities and developing actions designed to successfully react to modern challenges.
The BLUEMED priorities
The BLUEMED process
The BLUEMED Platforms system
The BLUEMED brochure (2)
The BLUEMED Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda - Cover
The BLUEMED brochure (1)
The BLUEMED Pilot Action