The concept of “Blue Economy“, which has been around for a few years, reflects the awareness of “land-based” actors and decision-makers of the importance of the ocean in the current and future world economy.
Humanity is discovering, or rediscovering, what the sea provides: an unrivalled global transport network (goods, telecommunications), diversified resources (biological, mineral, energy), essential ecosystem services (climate regulation, carbon sequestration, attractiveness to tourists or well-being of populations), and a certain number of responses to the challenges of the 21st century (aquaculture, biotechnologies, extraction of materials and metals, production of fresh water, wind, hydro and thermal energy).
At the same time, a new vision of the sea is emerging. More integrated: the impacts of human activities on the marine environment are becoming increasingly perceptible, as is competition for space and resources, and sectoral regulations no longer seem sufficient to control them. More universal: because borders do not exist at sea, neither for fish, nor for pollutants, nor often even for ships. The blue economy, like integrated maritime policies, is the bearer of this new integrative vision, and proposes to approach the sea as a whole: environment, activities, populations.
> SML and Blue Economy
The blue economy concerns not only the professional users of the sea, but also the territories that host their activities. However, it still only holds a very modest place in territorial strategies: even coastal territories have difficulties in grasping these close but not very accessible spaces, and in extending their plans and projects to them. It is in support of the latter that SML intervenes in particular, by mobilising its innovative approach of the Maritime and Coastal Capital. This integrated method enables us to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a maritime or coastal territory by simultaneously analysing its natural (maritime space, resources and ecosystems), human (know-how, culture), institutional (regulations and policies) and technical (infrastructures, finances) characteristics. By cross-referencing these results with local, national and international contexts, this approach enables us to identify opportunities specific to the blue economy of each territory, while illustrating the threats that may weigh on it, and the action levers (political, financial) that can be mobilised to seize or avoid them.
Rather than the classic vision of developing commercial activities, our objective is to respond to the specific challenges of a territory, which are (i) to preserve, develop and enhance its capital, (ii) to attract as much value and employment as possible linked to maritime activities in a given territory throughout the value chain of economic activities, and (iii) to develop synergies between sectors which are not by nature linked to the sea. Maritime territorial strategies must enable territories to capture the value of the blue economy and to control its impacts.