European Forum Alpbach: Greening the Blue Economy

Between August 27th 2021 and September 3rd 2021 I took part in the Climate Opportunity Leaders Retreat at European Forum Alpbach. As part of my participation, I moderated an important session on “Greening the Blue Economy – Linking Ocean Health and Wealth”.

I was joined by an excellent panel:

• Wietse Van Der Werf, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sea Ranger Service
• Charlina Vitcheva, Director-General, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE), European Commission
• Arjen Uytendaal, President, European Network of Maritime Clusters
• Claire MARTIN, Vice-President Sustainability, CMA CGM Group
• Geneviève Pons-Deladrière, Director General, Europe Jacques Delors
• Isabelle Garzon, Director of Studies and Development, Europe Jacques Delors

From ecosystem regeneration and decarbonisation to zero pollution, this session will explore ways to make the blue economy sustainable and more resilient for future generations. It will discuss Mission Starfish, an integral part of the Horizon Europe framework, and how it can help to restore Europe’s waters by 2030.

More information on the session here.

Climate Opportunity Leaders Retreat

My overall experience at the Climate Opportunity Leaders retreat was inspiring and magical. The setting was perfect to be able to discuss the future of climate action. Many great connections were made that will continue beyond Alpbach. The true impact of the connections we have made at Alpbach (through serendipity) will probably be felt in months or even years to come.

It was important for me personally that I was encouraged to to ask myself: what can I do as an individual? How can I inspire others? How can I communicate better about climate change and climate action, more inclusively and more holistically?

Key insights/takeaways

1) How we communicate about climate action is at least as important as the action itself: the balance between facts and emotions, engaging people in local communities, bridging the gap between facts and action. The narrative has to shift from being mainly about avoiding negative aspects (flood, droughts) to embracing positive things (new innovation, business opportunities, employment etc).

2) Climate action needs to put more emphasis on the social dimension—from measuring and improving the social impact of climate action (for example introducing carbon taxes) to building a stronger case for better financial products such as social bonds, social cost accounting.

3) Harnessing the opportunities that business and entrepreneurial spirit bring to climate action (incredible innovations in regenerative agriculture, eco-labelling, skills & training etc); co-creation (business, policy, science, society). As Kirsten Dunlop said during the plenary sessions: “Build differently not build back what didn’t work”.


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