More and more countries discover the strength of coordinating and collaborating through joint policies and actions in the blue economy. At Fundación Goteo we celebrate it and we want to share with you five key aspects that we consider of vital importance, as well as a reflection on what crowdfunding can contribute to face these challenges.
Co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the ambition of the Blue Crowdfunding Interreg MED project is to incorporate the use of crowdfunding in the Mediterranean by supporting the launch of campaigns, establishing international training and combining public funds and crowdfunding to finance, test and validate blue products. and economic services.
Given the difficulties in accessing financing, crowdfunding is emerging as the ideal alternative for SMEs seeking to develop business initiatives in the blue sector.
In this article we will propose turning towards more sustainable tourism models, promoting marine renewable energies, developing a more sustainable aquaculture, greening maritime transport and reducing marine litter in the Mediterranean.
1. A more sustainable tourism
The Mediterranean region is the main tourist destination in the world and represents 30% of world tourist flows, with its travel and vacation industry concentrated mainly in the coastal areas and generating an important source of employment. 2.5 million jobs were estimated in the southern Mediterranean in 2017, and this figure doubled in 2019, counting 4.9 million.
International tourist arrivals were expected to increase to 1.8 billion worldwide by 2030; a trend that may well be reconsidered at least in the medium term, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We cannot ignore that tourism is a volatile sector exposed to the effects of climate change (for example, coastal erosion) and global shocks (financial crises, pandemics, etc.), as we have seen during the last year and that Today's unsustainable business models cause persistent detrimental impacts on natural ecosystems.
Of the total 46,000 km of coastline, 25,000 km are urbanized and it is estimated that urbanization has already exceeded a critical limit. The most widely used tourism development model applied in the region is based on summer holidays by the sea and quantitative objectives.
There is a clear need for structural changes towards more ecologically sustainable and socially resilient models based on local strengths and that guarantee national profitability, so crowdfunding can be a very useful tool to promote and finance more sustainable tourism.
The 'Ecoruta by electric car along the Mediterranean coast', or the sustainable 'e-boats' equipped with electric motors in Mallorca are two good current examples supported by the Blue Crowdfunding Interreg MED project. Both campaigns have participated in the call [#BlueCrowdMed] (https://www.goteo.org/channel/bluecrowd) to raise funds through the Goteo platform.
Crowdfunding is also being used to help raise funds to transform a historic building and renovate traditional houses, as in Pozo Amargo's campaign to rescue the old medicinal water spa.
2. Promote marine renewable energies
Marine renewable energy is a fast growing blue sector with considerable potential in technological development and employment opportunities.
Floating offshore wind technology is considered the most suitable for the Mediterranean Sea, as it can be deployed in deeper waters. This technology allows the exploitation of marine areas and, at the moment, it is mainly implemented in the northern Mediterranean, in particular in France, Greece, Italy and Portugal.
It is necessary to strengthen regional cooperation in energy, networks and marine spatial planning to optimize the costs of the deployment of Marine Renewable Energies (ERM) in the Mediterranean.
Marine renewable energy could help reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 10% so that global temperature does not exceed the critical threshold of 1.5 ° C by 2050. It would also improve the transition to carbon neutral ports. At the same time, driving the energy transition is also a vehicle for economic growth by developing new industries, creating new job opportunities and repositioning leaders in specific fields in Europe.
Crowdfunding campaigns are proving to be very beneficial for marine energy developers in Northern Europe, as several companies manage to reach their initial funding targets ahead of deadlines and growing interest from investors.
Beyond the Mediterranean, a good example is Scottish tidal power company Orbital Marine Power. Less than a week after the launch of the equity crowdfunding campaign, they reached and exceeded the initial target, opening the campaign to the general public for additional investments, which ended with more than £ 2.3 million in investment commitments.
3. A more sustainable and competitive aquaculture
Although it is still a relevant economic sector for Mediterranean countries, the fishing sector faces a significant and growing deficit in the supply of seafood, driven by increasingly stringent regional commitments.
As part of their national strategies for the blue economy, several Mediterranean countries have already defined national strategies or action plans to develop marine aquaculture.
Offshore aquaculture production offers promising developments, despite the challenges of disease, local environmental impacts, and limits to supply growth faced by conventional coastal producers.
The sector is expected to continue to develop and diversify as demand for fishery products for human consumption increases and wild populations continue to decline.
By 2025, aquaculture is projected to provide more than half (52%) of all fish used for human consumption. Sector diversification is increasingly being considered to boost the competitiveness and sustainability of aquaculture activities, with mariculture including the creation of high added value (algae, biotechnologies), where research and innovation can be mobilized.
“Crowdfunding was a more flexible solution for our financial needs. For companies with a short trajectory (like ours) or that operate in a somewhat unique sector (aquaculture), traditional financing methods do not always materialize ”, said Nuno Brito Jorge, CEO of the impact investment platform GoParity and promoter of the Oysterworld III Project.
The Oceano Fresco Innovation project is the perfect example of how public funds can be combined with capital crowdfunding. Total total investments are close to 7.2 million euros for the construction of the Bio Marine Center of Oceano Fresco in Nazaré and its offshore exploration.
4. Transition to zero pollution through navigation
Commercial maritime transport, which covers around 80% of world trade, is an essential engine for world growth, and intra-Mediterranean maritime trade flows represent 25% of world traffic on only 3.5% of world water.
The sector is an essential element of the economy and job creation throughout the Mediterranean, but it is also exposed to market fluctuations and the international crisis (transport is among the sectors most affected by COVID-19, with the most significant impact on cruise ships and passenger ships). ; This makes it a relatively volatile source of growth and jobs in a world increasingly exposed to shocks.
Greening maritime transport is a great challenge for the region; These are greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, marine accidents and spills, noise, and impacts on biodiversity.
We recently saw how Daphne Technology, the climate technology startup that removes air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from ships, launched a crowdfunding campaign last May. Building on the € 8 million in funding already raised, including funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and venture capital, the objective of this round of additional funding was to allow the public and its community to invest directly in one of the largest in Europe. innovative climate technology startups. This round was a success and closed with € 672,320 from 713 investors, another excellent example of how the combination of crowdfunding with public funds has emerged as a new way of leveraging support to get ideas and projects off the ground.
5. Marine litter
Garbage is a great threat to marine biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. The Mediterranean Sea is strongly affected by marine litter of different sizes that is found along the coasts, floating on the surface and in the water column to the seabed. Currently, the Mediterranean is one of the seas most affected by plastic pollution in the world, with record levels of microplastics.
Plastics and microplastics are estimated to represent 70-90% of the total composition of marine debris in this marine basin.
Every year 0.57 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into Mediterranean waters, which is equivalent to 33,800 plastic bottles thrown into the sea per minute.
It is estimated that approximately 62 million items of macro-garbage float on the surface of the entire Mediterranean basin.
Crowdfunding can play an important role in helping to tackle the problem of plastic in our oceans. It can be used both to raise awareness of the problem and to help bring new solutions and products to market.
This is the case of [Gregal Ecodesign] (https://www.goteo.org/project/ropa-de-bano-sostenible), a Spanish sustainable fashion brand that manufactures custom swimsuits with mesh fabric and plastics extracted from the bottom marino, founded by Naiara Caliz, which collaborates with a local NGO to recover the seabed and its fauna and flora. His campaign supported by #BlueCrowdMed has already reached the minimum required funding and the deadline was extended until July 24.
The Blue Crowdfunding Interreg Med project was launched to address the challenges of the blue economy by integrating the use of crowdfunding, raising awareness, building capacities, establishing international trainings and combining public funds and crowdfunding to finance, test and validate innovative products from the economy. blue and services. Co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.