How can we develop a more integrated and sustainable approach of the marine and maritime systems in Europe? The EU funded project Sea For Society (SFS) attempts to bring new and innovative answers where the world ocean and the different solutions it offers in terms of economic, social, cultural or technological development are definitely a key component to count on.
Sea For Society (SFS) is a Mobilization and Mutual Learning Action Plan (MMLAP) bringing together 28 partners and associated partners from 12 countries in a dialogue process and joint actions to consider key questions, extract cross-cutting issues and propose challenge-driven solutions in order to ensure a sustainable management of marine ecosystem services by European citizens.
European actors and citizens give their voice - see calendar below
From May to October 2013, nine European nations - France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden - representing specific maritime regions - the Baltic and North seas, the English Channel, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean - organize national citizen/youth and key stakeholder consultations on the products and services that oceans offer to our daily life.
Previous surveys (OCEANICS, FP5 funded project and The Ocean Project work) have indeed shown that European citizens are not fully aware of the daily link they have with marine ecosystem services they benefit from and how their behaviors are potentially threatening these services.
Thus, alongside key stakeholders, citizens and young people will discuss how to change their vision and relation to the seas in the frame of six themes linking marine environment to their everyday life: Human Health, Energy, Leisure and Tourism, Transport, A Place to Live and Food Supply.
This new participatory approach assembles a network of actors with sometimes different, if not conflicting opinions and interests. But as citizens, consumers, decision makers, public or private stakeholders, researchers, non-governmental organizations…, they collectively possess the knowledge and solutions to move towards an integrated and sustainable use of marine resources.
A common consultation methodology across Europe tailored to assemble citizens’ and stakeholders’ ocean-related representations, values and solution ideas to face the global crisis
The methodology for the European debates proposed by the National University of Ireland, Galway, is called Collective Intelligence, also known as Interactive Management and it was developed in the 1970’s by John Warfield, an American engineer.
The Collective intelligence is an “idea structuring” and “value structuring” process. It is based on the premise that for resolving complex issues, such as influencing human behavior and, especially, the human choices concerning the use of marine resources, there is a need for a group of knowledgable people who would deal together with the main aspects of concern, develop a deep understanding of the issue under mutual learning, critical thinking and analysis, and develop the basis for effective action in a spirit of collaboration, consensus and commitment.
A bottom-up collective approach to help the European maritime policies and support public and private engagement
The outcomes of this open-dialogue phase will be compared and analyzed on a transnational basis in order to identify and select cross-cutting challenges in various regions and cultures in Europe.
In 2014, a European-wide mobilization campaign will be launched to broaden the transfer of knowledge and best practice to a much larger audience. It will aim at empowering actors and citizens to develop innovative common ocean-based solutions to face the global crisis and head for a new Blue Society.
In 2015, a European conference will present the outcomes and perspectives of this broad mutual engagement.
This Mobilization and Mutual Learning Action Plan aims to help the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission to better identify future research themes, new modes of governance of the marine and maritime environment and foster investments towards the Blue Society, all this at regional, national and European levels.
The Blue Society: an ocean of opportunities to forge a better future for everyone
In order to help achieve the Europe 2020 strategy for “smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”, the Sea for Society project intends to develop the concept of Blue Society which explores how humankind can coexist with, and benefit from the oceans and their resources without harming them.
The Blue Society aims at developing new and innovative products and technologies based on the tremendous opportunities offered by the world oceans to satisfy the needs of present and future generations in a spirit of “positive growth”, and taking into account the restoration and the sustainability of the marine ecosystems.
To learn more about the Sea for Society project, please visit our website (http://seaforsociety.eu) and associated blogs developed in nine European languages of the geographical areas where consultations will take place.