Paths to decarbonisation: cross-sea basin synergies Workshop

European Maritime Days | 24 May 2023 | Brest, France

Exploring concrete paths for an enlarged regional cooperation towards decarbonisation of the blue economy

The full decarbonisation of the blue economy is becoming more and more relevant for the EU and its neighbouring countries, and it remains a truly cross-cutting challenge for the three participating sea basins strategies in the Atlantic, the WestMED and the Black Sea.

In this context, the workshop ‘Paths to decarbonisation: cross-sea basin synergies’ organised within the EMD 2023 in Brest, France, embedded a rich and moderated discussion amongst a panel of high-level policy representatives from the EU Commission and Presidencies/Representatives for each of the three Sea Basin Strategies, followed by a moderated Q&A session amongst participants and the audience.

In the first part of the workshop, the state of play across the European sea basins was reviewed in detail, while identifying the possible EU-wide synergies to be activated towards a fully decarbonized sustainable blue economy. In this respect, specific support is offered through the EU Sea Basin Strategies[1], as promoted by the EU Commission in partnership with EU Member States and neighbour Countries across the Atlantic (Atlantic Action Plan)[2], the western Mediterranean (WestMED Initiative) [3] and the Black Sea (Common maritime Agenda)[4].

Existing relevant actions and concrete success stories were highlighted by the representatives of the 3 geographies. Relevant actions included:

  • The Atlantic Action Plan actively supporting renewable energy uptake through dedicated actions (i.e. ‘pillars’) aimed at carrying out technical exchanges and discussing future project ideas;
  • The WestMED Initiative identifying Green Shipping and Sustainable Aquaculture as priorities, via specific technical groups, both relying on sustainable and green energy;
  • The implementation of the Common Maritime Agenda (CMA) for the Black Sea needing specific skills and know how to accelerate a transition towards decarbonisation.

As relevant success stories portrayed as concrete deliverables and contributions towards the implementation of the EU sea basin support – i.e. towards fostering a full decarbonisation of the blue economy, the following were examined:

  • Atlantic Action Plan provided examples of aligned projects in the field of green and smart ports, such as AspBAN, MAGPIE or PIONEERS.
  • WestMED included among examples of concrete success stories the well-established Technical Groups (and related projects) on Green Shipping/Ports, Sustainable Aquaculture “AquaWest, the Maritime Clusters Alliance and the recently launched Community of Practice on MSP
  • Finally, Black Sea illustrated success stories with projects supported through EMFAF such as 4BIZ, or DBAN on acceleration of innovation ecosystems and the focus on coastal protection and sustainable entrepreneurship.

Building on existing actions, during the second part of the workshop, concrete areas for further support and synergies/cooperation across the different sea basins – both in terms of policy and project-support were discussed:

  1. Firstly, to pool and identify both strengths and weaknesses in each of the three sea basins, and based on this information, to identify common elements for collaboration. This analysis could be entrusted to the Assistance Mechanism which, in the context of the new contract with CINEA, works jointly in the three geographies.
  2. Secondly, identifying structured opportunities for cross-sea basin policy dialogue. This could be translated in the first place into the participation of the respective Presidencies in the Steering Committees of the other two sea basins.
  3. This recurrent presence of representatives of the different maritime strategies in the other governance structures could eventually lead to the creation of a common platform for dialogue between the three geographies, and this dialogue could incorporate elements of policy and more concrete elements of projects or initiatives.
  4. Establishing a concrete programme of exchanges between existing Technical Groups & Pillars on common topics
  5. Stimulate the creation of cross-sea basin consortia for EU-wide calls in programmes such as Interreg VI C 2021-2027 (interregional cooperation), Horizon, ERASMUS, LIFE…
  6. Promote the exchange on good practices and cooperation amongst policy and science within/across sea basins
  7. Including all the points above, establishing a basic and straight forward collaboration plan setting up the different stages and an overall timeline.
  8. Finally, the organisation in 2024 of a first ever cross-sea basin fertilisation event, whereby authorities and stakeholders from the Atlantic, the Western Mediterranean and the Black Sea could participate and exchange on all the topics mentioned above. More information on this planned conference will be shared as soon as it is available.

As a conclusion, the workshop –which was the first of its kind bringing in representatives from the 3 Sea basins and the European Commission to discuss about synergies– allowed for the identification of concrete and relevant opportunities for stronger cross-sea basin coordination and synergies, both at the policy as well as technical levels, with the ultimate objective of further streamlining overall cross-sea basins cooperation across the EU towards decarbonisation.

 Speakers/panellists and moderator

EMD 2023 decarbonisation workshop by the joint sea basin assistance mechanism - speakers on stage sitting at table

Speakers and Panellists (from left to right):

  • Isabelle Perret Advisor for European and environmental affairs (acting) Secretariat-General for the Sea
  • (WestMED Initiative representative)
  • Marisa Lameiras da Silva, Portuguese Directorate-General Maritime Policy, Director (Atlantic Action Plan Initiative Presidency)
  • Iglika Yakova, European Commission, DG Mare, Deputy Head of Unit
  • Alexandra Bogdan, Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director Analysis Division , (Black Sea Common Maritime Agenda Coordinator)
  • Matteo Bocci, Sea Basins’ Assistance Mechanism

 Overall moderation:

  •  Javier Fernandez, Sea Basins’ Assistance Mechanism





blue fishing boats in small port morocco

Pioneering Marine Spatial Planning in Morocco – World Bank report

Source: the World Bank – full article:

The World Bank has published a report capturing lessons learnt from a technical assistance activity to incubate Maritime Spatial Planning as a tool to conserve fishery resources while supporting artisanal fisheries. The ultimate aim of this exercise is for Morocco to create marine protected areas for fisheries management (MPA-Fs) that will support the development of the country’s nascent Blue Economy and are based on the best international planning practices.

The report titled, “Pioneering Marine Spatial Planning in Morocco: An Opportunity to Articulate Conservation and Development,” provides a practical showcase for marine spatial planning, a method of governance that brings together multiple ocean resource users and equips them with the data they need.

Download the report

brochures on displayed at table

Change starts with you! Citizen Science Campaign on plastic in the ocean

This is the message which was conveyed to a number of students attending an ocean literacy event in Malta (EMD) organised by Prof. Alan Deidun and his team at the Department of Geosciences (University of Malta) on May 16 2023. The event is part of a citizen science campaign on plastic in the ocean.

Further information on two projects which the Department is currently working on can be found here:

More information on Blue Economy projects on Malta and the Western Mediterranean region? Contact the WestMED National Hub Malta

room filled with students

Salem Miladi on National Television May 12, 2023

Salem Miladi, WestMED National Hub Tunisia, on national television as Blue Economy expert

On 12 May 2023,  Salem Miladi, WestMED National Hub Tunisia, was invited as an expert to participate in a 1:45hr nationally televised debate on the Blue Economy by the Tunisian commercial television station ‘Tunisna TV’ . It was an episode of the program ‘L’expert’ that was presented by Abdellatif Ben Hedia.

Next to Mr Miladi, the panel consisted of:

  • Neji Jalloul : former Minister of National Education
  • Rim ben zina: president of the forum de la Mer-Bizerte (Blue Season)
  • Mehdi bel Haj: Secretary General of the forum de la Mer-Bizerte (Blue Season)/ director of APAL
  • Mohammed Adel Hentati:  Environmental and sustainable development expert
  • Sondes Hannachi et Samir Bichouel (columnists)

The topics discussed during this 1h45 episode of  L’expert’ were :

  • The relationship between Blue Economy and the COP / what is the relationship between the two and what interests are there for small and developing countries.
  • Is Tunisia equipped to promote the blue economy, does it have traditions in this area and what are the economic sectors concerned
  • How can these  sectors contribute to increasing growth and employment in Tunisia and solve the problem of higher education graduates.
  • What are the impacts of the promotion of these sectors on the environment and should we take specific measures to protect the maritime and marine space and also the coast and avoid problems of development caused by conflicts of interest between operators.
  • Why are there delays in certain sectors and what are the solutions?
  • Is there a cooperation with other countries to promote the blue economy?
  • Is scientific research sufficiently developed in Tunisia to boost rapid growth.

watch the recordings:
(Season 8/ Episode 24) Part 1:
(season 8 / Episode 24) Part 2:

studio iverview tunisna tv with Salem Miladi as expert panel member

Memorandum of Understanding signed between World Ocean Council and the UfM/WestMED to boost private sector engagement in the Mediterranean Blue Economy

On March 28,2023, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the World Ocean Council (WOC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the UfM Headquarters in Barcelona. This, within  the framework of the 2021 UfM Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy and Roadmap for its implementation, and the WestMED Initiative, supported by the UfM and by the European Commission.

The MoU details key avenues of collaboration to promote cooperation, strong engagement, stewardship, and corporate responsibility from the business and investment communities in the maritime  sectors at Mediterranean level.

Cooperation will mainly focus on blue business development and entrepreneurship (incl. blue skills, careers, jobs and employability) and blue investments i..e the blue finance process in the Mediterranean. This via joint promotion and possible co-organisation of events, helping connect political to business apirations, exchanging expertise etc.

The WestMED Assistance Mechanism and the WOC are currenly exploring practical plans for joint development and cooperation in 2023.

Announcement poster stakeholder conference with photo of La Valetta in Malta

Join us on 22 June in Malta for the 2023 edition of the WestMED Initiative stakeholder Conference

After the successful 2021 WestMED Stakeholder Conference in Rome and the 2022 Hackathons on project development in Malta, we invite you to the 2023 edition of the WestMED Stakeholder Conference.

The Conference will be held on Thursday, 22 June 2023 in Malta. The event is open to all stakeholders that are contributing to improve the sustainable blue economy in the region.

So, whether you are a business owner, an entrepreneur, a scientist, an investor, a lecturer, a local or regional authority or a policy maker, this will be a day for you.  Learn the latest developments, meet new inspirational people, and consult the (national) blue economy experts from the WestMED Initiative in-person.

This year’s focus will be on the four main thematic areas that the WestMED Initiative actively supports:  Sustainable Aquaculture, Green Shipping and Ports, Maritime Clusters and Marine Spatial Planning.

We will share with you the results achieved so far and discuss the challenges that lie ahead.

The format will be interactive. Based on your level of expertise, you can both contribute to the discussion or ask fellow experts to help you in your activities.

Next to this, we plan to give you the latest updates and insights into the most relevant funding opportunities for your project ideas.

As a bonus, we are looking at the possibility of including a unique on-site visit, to learn from success stories on blue economy development in Malta.

The Stakeholder Conference will be followed by an (invitation only) official Ministerial meeting on June 23. On this occasion, Ministers from the 10 member countries will sign a new Ministerial Declaration with a commitment to reconfirm and streamline priorities for boosting the blue economy in the Mediterranean region.


For more information and registration  Visit the conference 2023 page

EMD in my country poster

Boost your maritime event with EMD in my country 2023

Last year, over 600 EMD In My Country events took place all over Europe and beyond!

It is time to break a new record to celebrate our blue planet this year!

Any blue event between 1 April and 31st October 2023 can apply.

There is no limitation: from beach clean-ups to educational tours or seafood fairs, all events promoting sustainable ocean and blue economy are welcome.

As a token of our gratitude for your action, you will receive promotional material for the participants in your event, which will be featured on our website. Make sure you indicate the number of participants in your application to receive enough goodies.

Now it’s up to you! Fill in the application form before 15 March 2023 and bring European Maritime Day 2023 to your country!

Visit the maritime day event website here

Submit your application here

san sebastian aerial view

El Gobierno aprueba los Planes de Ordenación del Espacio Marítimo

Source: Ministerio para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico


Tienen como objetivo un desarrollo sostenible de los usos del mar, con coexistencia de actividades, en las cinco demarcaciones marinas

Tienen como objetivo un desarrollo sostenible de los usos del mar, con coexistencia de actividades, en las cinco demarcaciones marinas

Identifican Zonas de Uso Prioritario para actividades de interés general y Zonas de Alto Potencial donde priman los sectores marítimos y los eventuales usos futuros

El Consejo de Ministros ha aprobado el Real Decreto con los Planes de Ordenación del Espacio Marítimo (POEM), relativos a las cinco demarcaciones marinas españolas: noratlántica, sudatlántica, del Estrecho y Alborán, levantino-balear y canaria. Se trata de un instrumento estratégico transversal que permite un aprovechamiento óptimo del espacio marítimo, reduciendo conflictos y potenciando coexistencias y sinergias, que se realiza por primera vez en nuestro país. Los POEM deben garantizar la protección de los ecosistemas, hábitats y especies sensibles y vulnerables, incluidos los protegidos por normativa autonómica, nacional o supranacional. Son un instrumento de planificación que se renueva cada seis años, por lo que estarán vigentes hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2027.

Leer más


Stephanie Vella at MMF event - 16 february 2023

Dr. Stephanie Vella zooms in on the importance of sea basin partnerships at ESG Conference

On 16 February, 2023  a conference was organised by the Malta Maritime Forum tackling ESG from every angle including the legal, economic, banking, industry and financing implications. Dr. Stephanie Vella (WestMED National Hub Malta) was part of the panel providing an insight into the economic aspect of ESG and the use of EU funds in order to tackle in particular the environmental and social elements of ESG. Dr Vella highlighted the importance of building networks and partnerships over the sea-basin and the role of the Westmed in this regard.

There can be little doubt that ESG is changing the shape of business across all economic sectors and the maritime industry is certainly no exception. The industry and all players within it must be adequately prepared to ensure it can face the challenge and responsibilities in an effective manner. In this way, ESG becomes an opportunity rather than a cost because it gives the operator an edge over the competition.


For more information, contact Stephanie Vella at  National Hub Malta

Malta Science and Technology event on Sustainble Blue Economy Partnership - 16 February 2023

WestMED National Hub Malta highlights its project matchmaking role during the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership event at the Malta Council for Science and Technology

On the 15th February, the Malta Council for Science and Technology organised an evening with stakeholders in order to launch the Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership. During the event, which was also attended by the Parliament Secretary for Youth, Research and Innovation, MCST provided a detailed overview of the Partnership including the pillars and its key enablers. MCST also explained the five Priority Areas which are the basis for the first call including:

  • Development and validation of Ocean Digital Twins at sub sea-basin scale
  • Blue generation marine structures
  • Planning and managing sea-uses
  • Healthy ‘Blue Food’ under a ’One Health’ approach
  • Enabling the green transition of ‘Blue Food’ production

This partnership provides an opportunity to continue addressing the objectives of the Westmed and creating synergies with other sea-basins.

The WestMED National Hub for Malta took the opportunity to provide an overview of the WestMED during the event to the stakeholders including the assistance provided by the Assistance Mechanism in the identification of partners for projects.

For more information, contact Stephanie Vella at  National Hub Malta