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Special edition 2021

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Blue economy

Land-Sea-Act: Potentials for regional Blue Growth

BY Finn Faber and Andreas Lagemann

As part of its "Blue Growth" strategy, the European Union supports projects for sustainable and integrated growth in all areas of the marine and maritime economy ("Blue Economy"). The strategic framework aims to align different maritime activities – for example, through the joint use of infrastructures, human and financial resources.

The HWWI contributes to the analysis of the Blue Economy as a research partner in the INTERREG Baltic Sea project "Land-Sea-Act" (Land-sea interactions advancing Blue Growth in Baltic Sea coastal areas). The consortium of eleven partners from Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden examines opportunities and challenges for maritime spatial planning. Six pilot projects in the participating countries form the core of the project. The HWWI provides the knowledge base on the regional situation of the blue economy in the regions of the pilot projects.

As the Blue Economy still is a relatively new concept, data availability proved to be problematic, especially on the regional and local level. Therefore, the analysis was complemented by an expert survey among local stakeholders.

National employment in Blue Economy sectors is distributed heterogeneously among the partner countries. In general, the Baltic Sea Region shows a more diverse distribution of jobs across the sectors than the EU, with fewer jobs located in the most important Blue Economy sector, coastal tourism. Among the partner countries, Poland and Germany show a comparatively low number of jobs in coastal tourism, but higher involvement in port activities. Estonia and Latvia have similar profiles with a strong focus on tourism. In Denmark and Sweden, maritime transport is above EU average.

Figure 1: Blue Economy jobs, share by sector, 2018

Apart from these "established sectors", the rise of the "emerging sectors" is a central issue for the future development of the Blue Economy. Emerging sectors are sectors that are not necessarily new but show excellent growth potential. As data on these sectors is rare, local experts were asked about their regions' involvement in these industries in the survey. Replies varied a lot between the regions. While Danish experts rated involvement low across the board, Polish, German and Swedish experts acknowledged considerable involvement in specific sectors such as marine research and education.

Figure 2: Involvement in emerging sectors

These results indicate how different the Blue Economy profiles in each partner region are. Moreover, the landscape of stakeholders, as well as the legal and political preconditions, differ strongly between the regions. Accounting for these differences and finding a suitable specialisation niche for sustainable Blue growth is one of the key challenges for successful maritime planning.

The knowledge gained by our research will be presented at the 4th Baltic MSP Forum in June and a workshop in Brussels in autumn. Together with the reports from the individual pilot projects, the findings will be integrated into an overarching Action Plan for "Multi-level Governance on Blue Growth and Spatial Planning". The plan will develop recommendations for actions promoting sustainable and integrated growth of the Blue Economy at various governance levels (transnational, national, regional and local).

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Andreas Lagemann


The 4th Baltic MSP Forum will take place on 1 – 2 June 2021, online. The Forum is organised by two Interreg BSR projects Capacity4MSP and Land-Sea-Act and it serves as a final conference for both projects.