Blue Growth Study - Scenarios and drivers for Sustainable Growth from the Oceans, Seas and Coasts

The starting point for the Blue Growth project is the grounded belief that seas, coasts and oceans can play a pivotal role in the solutions to many challenges and tensions. In order to take advantage of their future potential, maritime economic activities need to be combined – smart combinations taking advantage of synergies and building critical mass. Innovation is key to this. Above all, maritime economic activities need to be sustainable – and be built on an integrated approach with a long-term focus and responding to the world’s resource, climate and environmental challenges. It requires adequate support from local, national, EU and international policies. And maritime economic activities need to be inclusive – providing employment opportunities and promoting full participation – especially from local and coastal populations.

This report

  • provides insight into the state of the art within maritime sectors;
  • presents knowledge of innovation and technological developments that influence these sectors;
  • creates an understanding of key external drivers that influence their potential;
  • identifies key economic areas for the future sustainable growth of oceans, seas and coasts; and
  • assesses the impacts of policy interventions that may contribute to reaping the existing potential.

The Blue Growth project was executed by Ecorys in partnership with Deltares and Océanique Développement from December 2010 to August 2012.

The Blue Growth initiative forms an important contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy. Blue Growth is part of this strategy by offering the maritime elaboration of smart, sustainable and inclusive economic and employment growth from the oceans, seas and coasts.  

Key findings:

  • The overall importance of maritime economic activities in Europe is expected to grow by 2020 to an estimated GVA of € 590 billion and to a total of 7 million persons employed
  • Long-term annual growth for short-sea shipping is expected in the range of 3-4 % for the coming decade
  • The challenges facing the offshore oil and gas industry will relate to increasing sustainable practices, improving security and ensuring public acceptance for offshore oil & gas exploration methods
  • Growing algae shows significant long-term growth potential for a range of sectors including the health and cosmetic industry, the food and feed processing industry, and the green chemistry and energy industries. In the latter segments, significant technological and growth breakthrough are expected around 2025-2030
  • Offshore wind is among the robust maritime employment generators, with an estimated 35,000 people employed as of 2010 and with the possibility of employment numbers increasing to 170,000 by 2020
  • Maritime monitoring and surveillance is expected to play an expanding economic role (with 15-20% annual growth and 7% employment growth)
  • The blue biotechnology’s future economic potential is limitless given its ability to generate a wide range of applications
  • Ocean renewable energy (blue energy) prospects are most promising for the development of tidal current energy, directly followed by wave energy. The key to the future success of blue energy relies upon the rapid development of technological advancements and the successful completion of demonstration projects
  • Economic activities in marine minerals’ mining area will be driven by expected supply shortages. They include so-called critical raw materials, which are likely to be faced with geo-political or geological shortages, while vital for future (hightechnology) commercial applications and products. New technological developments make prospects for sea-bed mining more feasible now than in previous years. By 2020, an expected 5% of the world's minerals located on the sea-bed, e.g. cobalt, copper, zinc and rare earth minerals, could be mined

By Martine Farstad