Hosted and chaired by MEP Marian-Jean MARINESCU in the framework of the SEArica Intergroup, the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) Implementation Plan was launched in the European Parliament on the 4th of May, 2023.
Participants included high-level representatives of the European Commission, regional organizations and research-performing organizations, and more than 110 stakeholders from policymaking, research, and innovation communities from European Union member states and Black Sea littoral countries. Together, they launched this guiding document and paved the way for future joint actions in research and innovation, exchanging of best practices and knowledge, and enhancing capacity building in the region.
The Black Sea SRIA Implementation Plan facilitated under the Black Sea CONNECT CSA, aims to set the foundational work to protect the unique habitats of the Black Sea while supporting the development of sea-based sectors, which will then boost the blue economy and help generate more employment. It will direct participants from academia, funding organizations, industry, policy, and society to address the fundamental challenges of the Black Sea, promote the blue economy, build vital support systems and innovative research infrastructure, enhance education, and build capacity. This document is a long-lasting guide to catalyze new ideas and innovations towards and with the Black Sea community and beyond with adjacent regions, actors, and instruments for a healthy, resilient, and sustainable Black Sea.
Based on the comprehensive and long-lasting properties of this document, the launch event hosted many valuable speakers from experts to scientists, from Black Sea Young Ambassadors to policy-makers. With the introductory remarks in the opening session, Delilah Al Khudhairy – Director of the DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Elisabetta Balzi – Head of Unit, Healthy Seas and Ocean, DG of Research and Innovation of European Commission, and Mehmet Tevfik Zeyrek – Vice President of Middle East Technical University, shed light on the possible benefits of implementing the Black Sea SRIA Implementation Plan across the Black Sea regions.
Following this opening session, Black Sea CONNECT Coordinator Barış Salihoğlu introduced the Implementation Plan with encouraging words: “A better future will prevail with this comprehensive action plan that is for future programmes, strategies, initiatives, and funding agencies”. Now that we have a reference document that will guide future Research and Innovation in the Black Sea, how we can benefit from implementing this plan at national and regional levels was discussed by the Operational Network of Funders. The participants also had a chance to hear reactions from regional organizations such as BSEC-PERMIS, Black Sea Commission, and BBSC-CPMR on their views and commitments to the SRIA Implementation Plan.
In the event, Black Sea Young Ambassadors also came forward as voices of the Black Sea to share its story and made their pledge to draw inspiration from the rich history of this sea basin, where ancient cultures thrived under the umbrella of this comprehensive plan. Moreover, highlighting the fact that the participants were planting the seeds of cooperation with this event, Christos Economou, Head of Unit Sea-basin Strategies, Maritime Regional Cooperation and Maritime Security of the European Commission, and Margherita Cappelletto from Sustainable Blue Economy Partnership (SBEP) presented some of the next opportunities to advance cooperation in the Black Sea.
Finally, Delilah Al Khudhairy, Director at DG MARE, who took over the stage to make the closing speech, emphasized that the launch of the Black Sea SRIA Implementation Plan underscores the importance of research and innovation in addressing regional challenges and promoting sustainable development, and further, stakeholders’ commitment to advancing cooperation in these areas will pave the way for a more prosperous and sustainable Black Sea region.
With these informative, enlightening, forward-thinking, creative, and visionary components, the launch of the Black Sea SRIA Implementation Plan represents a significant step forward in advancing cooperation in research and innovation in the Black Sea region and promoting sustainable development.