Several Lighthouse initiatives are being set up in different sea and river basins across Europe as part of the Mission 'Restore Our Ocean & Waters By 2030' . The launch of the Baltic-North Sea Lighthouse represents a step toward greater political commitment, mobilisation of communities and implementation of concrete measures and actions for a carbon-neutral and circular blue economy in the region. One of our partners from Germany travelled to Hamburg to mark this important milestone. Read on to learn about the main conclusions from the event and how exactly PERMAGOV plans to support the Baltic-North Sea Lighthouse.
The Mission-based approach is a novelty in Horizon Europe. Inspired by the famous Apollo project, missions are often called moonshots as they aim to provide a clear focus for science and technology in addressing 'wicked' societal challenges.
Missions were introduced to support EU priorities in key areas of climate change, biodiversity, digitisation, living conditions, and health. In total, there are five EU missions, one of them (originally called “Mission Starfish”) aims to protect and restore oceans and waters by 2030.
Piloting novel solutions in support of this goal are Mission Lighthouses, hubs of innovation and regional cooperation in major sea and river basins in and around Europe. Those covered by PERMAGOV case studies are the Atlantic-Arctic Lighthouse (launched before PERMAGOV in 2022), the Mediterranean Sea Lighthouse (launch scheduled for end of May 2023) and the Baltic-North Sea Lighthouse (launched in April 2023). So, last month's event in Hamburg was our first opportunity to mark the launch of the Mission Lighthouse with direct relevance to PERMAGOV.
PERMAGOV cases In the Baltic-North Sea Region
Seabed integrity in the Baltic Sea: This case study investigates practices and related challenges to implement regional sea commitments to protect benthic habitats. It scrutinises the Baltic Sea countries’ collaboration to reduce human pressures on the seabed integrity that are caused by multiple human activities and sectors. The main focus is on the regional commitments agreed in the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP). The study focuses on intersections between the related sectoral and environmental policy frameworks and in the practical implementation of the policies at regional sea and national levels, while also paying attention to policy developments at the EU and international levels. The case will be conducted by the Finnish Environment Institute and HELCOM.
Marine litter in the Baltic Sea: This case study focuses on cross-sectoral and multi-level governance approaches that aim to tackle marine litter in the Baltic Sea. Sea-based sources of pollution are prioritised, particularly abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear, and lost cargo. The interplay between different sectoral governance regimes will be investigated, and lessons for overcoming institutional barriers that are essential for governance in combatting marine litter identified. The results from the case study will contribute directly to the ongoing work of the Sea-based Pressures Working Group and Marine Litter Expert Groups, and in particular to the implementation of the BSAP and the revised 2021 HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter. The case study is coordinated by the Research Institute for Sustainability – Helmholtz Centre Potsdam and HELCOM.
Energy Islands Denmark: The world’s first energy islands have been planned for construction in Denmark. The Danish Government is planning to establish two large-scale energy islands, one in the North Sea and one in the Baltic Sea, by 2030. In the North Sea, an artificial island will be constructed to serve as a hub for up to 3GW of offshore wind farms initially, and potentially up to 10 GW in the future. In the Baltic Sea, the hub is constructed on Bornholm with a capacity of 2GW from offshore windfarms. The energy islands will serve as hubs that can create better connections between energy generated from offshore wind and the energy system in the regions around the two seas. This case study will examine the adaptability and transformative potential of the marine energy complex when addressing entirely novel solutions that have yet to be proven and examine how known institutional barriers will need to be addressed within a real-life project if it is to be brought to fruition. The case study is coordinated by the Center for Blue Governance at Aalborg University and the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy.
Conclusion And Main Takeaways
Due to their nature, EU Missions provide a useful framework for strong multi-actor collaboration, uniting different actors around a common cause. This is the case with all societal missions which, unlike purely technical missions of the past, require extensive co-interpretation, co-design, co-implementation and co-evaluation by a diverse group of stakeholders.
The event demonstrated strong commitment by various communities and actors to work together to restore Europe's oceans and waters by 2030. By sharing knowledge, experiences, and engaging in dialogue, participants hope to make a significant impact on the future of the Baltic and North Sea regions. The following measures were identified as necessary ingredients for success and long-term sustainability:
Multi-stakeholder collaboration, dialogue and cooperation
Education and exposure to nature as a means to help people understand the importance of nature protection and ocean sustainability (knowledge → caring → behaviour and policy change)
Diversity and resilience as key building blocks of a sustainable future
Commitment of new generations to change
Despite data challenges and lack of political will in some areas it is important to stay positive as the required change is happening slowly but steadily
To learn more about key messages from speaker presentations check out the summary document below.