Written by Domenico De Martinis


These past 11 and 12 May 2022, the Embassy of Italy to Egypt in collaboration with the Egyptian National Institute For Oceanography & Fisheries (NIOF), the Italian National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS), and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, hosted the event Blue Economy: Develop a Sustainable and Equitable Ocean Economy, a two-days workshop on the Development of Skills and Circulation of Talents for Sustainable Blue Economy.

The workshop was embedded in the broader event “African Conference on Priority Setting & Partnership Development for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development: Current Status, Challenges and Opportunities”, under the auspices of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and in this framework, NIOF and OGS seized the opportunity to sign a memorandum of understanding for future scientific
collaborations. It has been a relevant opportunity for the international scientific community based in Egypt to discuss the importance of the marine and maritime industry and their impact on the Mediterranean environment and society.

The so-called “Blue Economy’’ sector is an engine to develop economies in the entire Mediterranean region
and that is expected to grow. Taking full advantage of this sector’s potential will require new skills, a workforce from a wide variety of marine and maritime professional backgrounds and areas, which will necessitate new knowledge and training. It is however important to ensure that the blue economy’s growth will not result in an exploitation of
the resources, but will be tied to sustainable economies on both land and at sea. A sustainable blue economy
should facilitate the development, but also looks for synergies in the maritime space, without damaging
the environment. It should also help to identify real needs for investment in research, skills and innovation
for climate change mitigation, circular economy and biodiversity preservation.

Closing remarks of H.E.Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Currently, a wide variety of support tools and programs, tackling skills development and promoting international mobility, is in place. However, there is a need to map and rationalize them to avoid duplication and loss of efficiency. The workshop presented a number of successful best practices and stories in development of skills and circulation of talents for a sustainable blue economy. This enabled us to describe the concept of “Blue Economy” under different angles; the ecological and climatic issue, food security, technological opportunities as well as education.

We hopefully identified what will be the path to the future (e.g. with the EU Starfish Mission to regenerate the Mediterranean Sea), and how the socio-economy of the Mediterranean region will benefit. As mentioned during the works, the Mediterranean Sea, although it represents only a small part of the world’s ocean surface, is one of the richest areas in the world in terms of biodiversity, but, unfortunately, it is also an area facing a “double jeopardy”; the region is not only is warming up faster than any other inhabited area, but it is also one of the main “hotspots’’ of marine pollution.

Adaptation strategies and science-based policy responses to global challenges are urgently needed and therefore Blue Economy is undisputedly a high priority area ensuring a sustainable use of ocean resources that is essential to economic growth, better livelihoods, and job creation.

A moment of the workshop; Sustainable and circular management models in the Blue Economy Dr. C. Chiavetta, ENEA.

On the eve of COP27 coming soon in Egypt, a common will and a shared responsibility is instrumental to ensure the best possible future for the Mediterranean. Against this backdrop, the workshop has been an important opportunity to appreciate how much the Mediterranean area is able to advance under difficult climatic, social and economic circumstances: in a region with high youth unemployment, which often increases with the level of education, development of skills and circulation of talents will facilitate the transition from a purely academic environment to highly qualified roles in the productive sector in their own countries.