Blue green innovation for clean coasts and seas
Debris, chemical and microbial pollution and algae jellyfish blooms are huge and increasing problems in the oceans, seas and coasts. For plastics alone, the economic and ecological cost is considerable when including beach clean-ups, tourism losses, and damages to the fishing and aquaculture industries. In spite of strong legislation such as EU directives, sea and coastal pollution remains high, and prevention and innovative coast and sea clean-up schemes remain a challenge. Many solutions are available to tackle these sources of pollution, including recycling, waste water treatment, teams of collectors, and specific equipment such as skimmer boats, beach cleaning machines or algae harvesting devices. However, there is a pressing need to develop powerful innovative methods and processes to clean coasts and oceans and to restore the ecosystems to a healthy and clean state. The foremost challenge is not only to remove litter and pollution, but to transform the collected waste into a resource stream in line with the concept of the circular economy.
The proposals should be for demonstration projects to clean and lay the ground for a healthy ocean or sea and its coasts in any given large geographic area(s), including regional seas or semi-closed sea basins such as the Mediterranean. The demonstration projects should develop and scale-up innovative processes and measures to clean the selected site from visible (for example floating plastics or abandoned fishing gear) and invisible litter (micro-plastics) and pollutants, involving local communities and actors. Collected waste materials should be adequately processed so as to enable a subsequent usage/ exploitation/ re-usage. The proposals should apply an ecosystem approach, developing forecasting tools and models to identify areas where the proposed intervention is likely to be most effective in ecological and economic terms. Social acceptance and economic impact of the envisaged measures must also be considered and promoted, for example by disseminating the project results to relevant stakeholders.
In line with the objective of the EU Strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (COM (2012) 497), proposals addressing the Mediterranean should contribute to implement the Research and Innovation Initiative for Blue Jobs and Growth in the Mediterranean Area (The BLUEMED Initiative).
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 6 million would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
To contribute to the implementation of EU Policies such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and its aim to achieve a good environment status for Europe’s seas and oceans by 2020, proposals are expected to:
- Develop innovative technological methods or processes for cleaning coasts and seas and transforming waste into a resource.
- Reduce cleaning up/restoration costs through cost-effective solutions, in particular through enhanced resource efficiency.
- Increase awareness and acceptance of civil society about the importance of healthy oceans and seas, devoid of litter and pollutants, in civil society.
- Progress towards reducing pollution and debris (macro, micro and nano) in regional sea basins and beyond, and towards restoring marine ecosystems.
- Improve the professional skills and competences for those working and being trained to work within the blue economy.
Each site should be substantial in size and include or be adjacent to different activities.
The exact selection of pollutants and litter will depend on the area selected. However, the choice of the area must be such that several sources of pollution are addressed.
The "Research and Innovation Initiative for Blue Jobs and Growth in the Mediterranean Area (The BLUEMED Initiative)" aims to advance a shared vision of a Mediterranean Sea that is healthy, productive, resilient, understood and valued so as to promote the well-being and prosperity of our citizens and future generations and boost socio economic growth and jobs. It was jointly developed by Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain and presented by the Italian Presidency during the Competitiveness Council of 04-05 December 2014. In March 2015, a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda was developed.