The Blue Society encapsulates a vision for society in which people benefit from the Ocean’s vast potential while preserving its environmental integrity. Central to this vision is a system of governance in which the Ocean is recognized as a global common which must be collectively managed across sectors and borders. Education, the effective enforcement of policies, science-informed action and the development of cross-sector partnerships are key components.
The idea of a Blue Society is the result of and EU project Sea for Society. Sea for Society (SFS) is a three-year project (mobilization and mutual learning plan) that aims for a deeper understanding of how humans relate to the Ocean. Under the European Seventh Framework Programme, it brings together 28 research, education and communication organizations from 12 countries in a process of dialogue and joint actions. Its objectives are to speak with all those interested in the Ocean and capture their views on how society as a whole can develop solutions to promote the sustainable management of the marine environment. The Blue Society vision is the result of activities undertaken during the SFS programme. You can find out more about Sea for Society at http://seaforsociety.eu.
Blue Society is based on six core principles:
Common heritage, Common Responsibility
There is a single World Ocean that includes all major basins – Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Southern Oceans – as well as semi-enclosed and marginal seas. The Ocean, and particularly the high seas, should be under the collective responsibility of all nations on the planet.
Planet Earth is, in fact, Planet Ocean: that is why traditional, land-based policy-making must be replaced with an integrated “Land and Ocean” policy-making process. This implies developing dialogue, cooperation spaces and information-sharing tools.
Science and Innovation
Blue Society requires a process of continuous improvement in management practices and policy on the basis of new scientific knowledge and technological innovation. This, in turn, necessitates close cooperation between citizens, decision makers, the scientific community and industrial leaders.
Achieving a Blue Society means finding a careful balance, between leveraging the ocean’s potential and preserving the integrity of its ecosystems, between using its resources sustainably and preserving the ecosystems services that generate them.
Raising awareness and increasing basic knowledge about the Ocean among the general public, industry and decision-makers is vital for achieving a Blue Society. Collaboration between scientists, governments, and civil society is vital for increasing awareness of Ocean issues.
Partnership and Collaboration
The strength of the Blue Society resides in strong collaboration between all elements of society. Solutions for improved Ocean governance should be found through inclusive, transparent and accountable mechanisms that allow for informed judgments to be made at the local and global level.
The Ocean regulates the planet’s ecological balance:
The Ocean delivers essential goods and services:
The Ocean supports our economy and societal needs:
Since the United Nations’ Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012, the media has been abuzz with the term “Green Economy”. The idea of a Green Economy is one that invests in human well-being, more equitable distribution of wealth, sustainable development, job creation and also protection of the Earth’s resources.
Blue Economy follows this model while putting the Ocean at the centre of our lives. Blue Economy understands that the health of the Ocean directly determines the extent to which human society can advance.
The concept of a Blue Economy was outlined by Gunter Pauli in his book, “The Blue Economy: 10 years - 10 innovations - 100 million jobs.” The fundamental principle of the Blue Economy is that society can shift from scarcity to abundance for all following the Blue business model. This model prioritizes sustainability and citizen involvement in the local economy. Green Economy is not limited to the terrestrial sphere, just as Blue Economy is not limited to the marine; rather, Green Economy was the predecessor of the Blue Economy.
Blue Economy establishes a whole new paradigm for how business should be done for the benefit of all humans. Blue Economy is systematic, meaning that the footprint of the economy is of the utmost importance. How can the waste from one sector be used as a raw material in another? Blue Economy is a social movement, where citizens are part of the growth of their communities, where outreach is central
Many aspects of the Ocean offer enormous potential that, if managed appropriately, can be exploited sustainably: clean technologies such as “green” ships, renewable energies (tidal, wave, thermic and wind), biofuels, edible algae, and new medicines among others.
Being part of the Blue Society is to recognize that the Ocean has huge scope for development, but it also requires an ability to use Ocean resources wisely so that they can continue to be available for future generations.
The Blue Society website offers many ways in which you can contribute to a Blue Society.
“Blue Growth” is a term that has been gaining traction in recent years in Europe. Blue Growth is a long-term strategy that aims to promote growth in marine and maritime sectors that have a high potential for sustainable growth in jobs and profitability, e.g. aquaculture, coastal tourism, marine biotechnology, ocean energy, and seabed mining. It also seeks to develop knowledge and legal certainty and security by improving marine knowledge and access to information about the sea, improving maritime spatial planning, and integrating marine surveillance to provide real-time information on the activities taking place at sea. Blue Growth also focusses on local strategies to develop solutions through cooperation on a basin scale, i.e. Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the North Sea. The European Commission has produced a handy infographic describing their Blue Growth strategy.
Blue Growth is part of the Blue Society; however, Blue Society goes beyond European-level policies and strategies and focusses instead on the community and citizen-level. Blue Society provides education and information to the public and invites citizens to take part in the decision-making processes. Blue Society also supports investment in innovative and modern approaches to using the Earth’s and Ocean’s resources sustainably and promotes ongoing conversation between researchers and the public at large.
Blue Society also empowers citizens to have a voice in the governance process and in managing their own communities and ecosystems in collaboration with policy makers and government.
Blue Society is a community initiative. Please see our list of Partners to find out who is organizing Blue Society activities in your area. If you would like to start a Blue Society group of your own, please contact us and we can provide you with materials and information to support your programme.