Barcelona submits its candidacy to host a centre dedicated to the blue economy

11/04/2024 - 14:54 h - Science Ajuntament de Barcelona

Barcelona is bidding to host a UNESCO Ocean Decade Collaborative Centre (DCC), which will focus its activity on the development of the blue economy. This was announced during the opening ceremony of the Decade of the Ocean Conference, which is taking place until Friday 12 April at the Barcelona International Convention Centre (CCIB) and which brings together more than 1,500 people from the ocean community to focus on the challenges and opportunities related to ocean sustainability.

During the meeting, Barcelona’s candidacy to host the DCC in blue economy and some of the city’s current challenges were discussed. The DCC that Barcelona is applying to host will be promoted by the City Council, which will be the main partner in collaboration with the Port of Barcelona as a key partner, as well as with two outstanding scientific partners of the highest recognition and prestige. On the one hand, the Institute of Marine Sciences of the Spanish National Research Council, attached to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities; and on the other, BlueNetCat, the largest network of blue economy experts in Europe.

During the event, Barcelona’s intention to become the first city to lead one of the ten challenges set by the United Nations in the defence of marine ecosystems was presented, as the CDDs that have been announced so far are led by entities such as universities or research centres. Specifically, the catalan capital will host the first CDD focused on challenge number four of the Decade of the Ocean, which is the one that refers to developing a sustainable and equitable ocean economy. In other words, to advance in the development of the blue economy in which Barcelona is already a benchmark in the Mediterranean. With this new step, Barcelona would become UNESCO’s benchmark in the blue economy, with a world centre in the Catalan capital.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, in her institutional opening of the event, praised Barcelona’s ongoing commitment to the protection of the ocean and its cooperation with UNESCO and recalled that the city has been designated World Capital of Architecture 2026 and that, next year, it will host UNESCO’s global culture conference, Mondiacult: “Barcelona is for UNESCO more than a city. We are very happy that the conference is taking place here, because we have a special cooperation in culture and science and, especially these days, in ocean science”.

In 2017, the United Nations General Assembly promoted the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) or Decade of the Ocean, which aims to align research, investments and initiatives to promote global changes for the preservation and conservation of the oceans. Faced with this global challenge, a network of centres is also being promoted on a global scale that specialise in thematic areas (in one of the ten challenges set) or geographic areas (in one of the main geographical basins) and that will work at a local level throughout the decade through relevant actors in each area. They will do so in a collaborative manner with the aim of generating knowledge on the different maritime areas. These centres began to be developed in 2021 and there are currently twelve.

Barcelona’s candidacy will be reviewed by UNESCO in September with the aim of opening the centre before the end of the year. The DCC would be in the city for a minimum of five years.

Barcelona, the best place to create the CCD on the blue economy

Barcelona, one of the most innovative cities in Europe, has several assets that position it to give this CDD the impetus and projection it needs from the Mediterranean. Within the BCN Green Deal Agenda, the strategic commitment of the city of the future to combine progress and sustainability, the blue economy is established as one of the main levers for generating employment and competitiveness. The city is already hosting some of the main international maritime events, such as the America’s Cup 2024 or the Tomorrow. BlueEconomy in the framework of the Smart City Expo and World Congress.

Barcelona is the leading city in Spain, the eighth in the European Union and the 20th in the world in terms of scientific production, thanks to an ecosystem of international prestige made up of more than 80 research centres. And it has several mechanisms to promote knowledge transfer, such as the BCN DeepTech Node, with the five universities of Barcelona, or the Deep Tech fund, to accelerate investments in spin-offs in the research sector.

The Port of Barcelona is also the most diversified port in Europe, with a clear commitment and leadership in terms of decarbonisation of the maritime-port sector, contributing 2% of Catalonia’s GDP and with a clear commitment to innovation. Some of the most cutting-edge innovation hubs in Europe, such as BlueTechPort, TechBarcelona’s Pier 01 and the Norrsken Foundation, are concentrated within the port territory.

About the Decade of the Ocean Conference

The Decade of the Ocean 2024 Conference, which started today at the CCIB, will feature more than 40 international speakers until Friday, is organised under the title The science we need for the ocean we want and is to be the global forum to bring together governments, experts from different fields, maritime sectors, universities, NGOs, the private sector and civil society. It is an event that has generated great international interest with more than 5,000 registered requests to attend, bringing together some 1,500 people from the ocean community. Throughout the week, more than 120 parallel events are organised, many of them open to the public, to focus on the care of the oceans.