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Maritime Forum

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

Study report on traditional and emerging activities in the blue economy

This report was written by an independent contractor and does not represent the views of the European Commission.

More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans. The sea is an integral part of Europe’s identity, with 22 of the 27 Member States having a coast and two thirds of European frontiers being set by the sea. Oceans, seas and coasts can offer an essential contribution in tackling today’s longer term challenges, such as globalisation and competitiveness, global warming and climate change, but also poverty and mobility, increasing scarcity of natural resources and vulnerability of the planet, urbanisation and concentration in coastal regions and demographic change. Keeping our seas healthy is a pre-condition for the long term sustainable exploitation of the possibilities it offers.

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 of the above 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.

The main aim of the Blue Growth project is to provide policy-makers at EU and sea basin level with a comprehensive, robust and consistent analysis of possible future policy options to support such smart, sustainable and inclusive growth from the oceans, seas and coasts. The Blue Growth project thereto:

  • 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 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. The project is also building and expanding on earlier policy initiatives. These include the Commission’s Integrated Maritime Policy (2007), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008) and the EU’s programmes directed at promoting marine and maritime research and innovation, as well as a whole body of other initiatives.

final report


  1. data on maritime activities
  2. data mining on research and development
  3. backgound on scenarios
  4. subfunction reports
  1. cluster reports
  2. outcome of expert meeting and stakeholder hearing
  3. interim reports
  1. policy paper