EU decision-makers and stakeholders gathered in the European Parliament, on November 18th 2015, to discuss the Blue Society concept¾a product of the project “Sea for Society”¾which envisions a new governance model that aims to make the Ocean an integral part of society.
Ricardo Serrão Santos MEP gathered policy makers, the scientific community, youth and other stakeholders to present the concept of a Blue Society, putting the Ocean at the heart of decision making. At the European Parliament the Blue Society was formally launched as a model for the future of human society.
The Sea for Society project engaged over 500 citizens and stakeholders in inclusive and expansive conversations about the importance of the Ocean to everyone’s life. Mobilization activities, designed to encourage active involvement in Ocean-related activities, have so far reached 200 000 people.
Francois Simard, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme explained that “common responsibility, common heritage is the guiding principle of a Blue Society.” The EU should be at the forefront of creating a Blue Society and must put more emphasis on the contribution of natural capital, economic deterrents and cross-sectoral collaboration across policy sectors. The need to recognise the role of the Ocean at COP21 was stressed as it is not given its due importance. It was underscored by Francis Vallat, European Network of Maritime Clusters that “politicians and scientists must acknowledge at a global level the Ocean’s pivotal role as the most important climate regulator in the world”.
The need to increase education and outreach was underlined by all participants as awareness and more basic knowledge about the Ocean is needed among the general public, industry and decision-makers.
Tiago Pitta e Cunha, Cabinet of the President of Portugal added that the health of the Oceans is underestimated and that “humans live in a world separate from the Oceans”. Participants called for the need to include Ocean literacy in school curricula as well as the need to effectively communicate research results to decision makers and promote behavioural changes.
The Sea for Society project also involved youth groups in its activities, which took part in the discussion through a representative, who underlined that youth groups “want a system of governance which respects the imperative needs of human society and our planet, a system which encompasses the Blue Society”. The presence of the youth in the project was widely acknowledged and esteemed by the other speakers..
The meeting was concluded by the signing of the Blue Society Stakeholder’s Commitment, which was signed by organisations from across Europe supporting the vision of a Blue Society and the need to continue to work in dialogue and partnership to improve human-Ocean dynamics globally.
You can watch recorded footage of the event online here.