Oceans matter. They cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the Earth’s water. According to the UN, more than three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. As a market, our marine and coastal industries are worth $3 trillion per year. The fishing industry employs millions of people around the world and almost 10 billion tons of goods are shipped annually over our oceans.
And yet, our oceans are both a threat, due to rising sea levels, and under grave threat from overfishing, pollution and CO2-driven acidification.
So join us in the Ocean Challenge and let’s start using this spectacular resource for clean, circular, sustainable growth.
Workshop topic 1: Blue Tourism
Radical ideas for Belgian blue tourism
The oceans provide us with food, energy and transport routes, but they’re also a source of pure joy. People love going to the beach. In fact, tourism is the biggest ocean-related industry. We spend our seaside holidays sunbathing, swimming, surfing, sailing, diving, fishing, bird watching, walking or simply gazing at the ocean.
In Belgium, we’ve built a huge sea-oriented tourist industry that is based mainly on real estate and a seasonal hotel and restaurant industry. It is also an industry that has extracted a huge environmental cost, with little “natural” beauty of our coastline remaining. And strategically, we seem to be more concerned with protecting our legacy tourist industry instead of imagining a more diverse and sustainable blue tourism future. If you think we can do better, join this workshop where we’ll come up with radical new ideas for having good clean fun in and at the sea!
Workshop topic 2: Plastic Soup
Cleaning up our oceans
Every year about 8 billion kilos of plastic waste is dumped in the ocean. If we continue at this rate, we’ll have more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050 (according to the Ellen McArthur Foundation). Such pollution is a total disaster because plastic particles enter the marine food chain, poisoning everything from coral and plankton to fish and ultimately humans too. In this workshop we’ll explore ideas for both preventing pollution and removing existing pollutants from the ocean.
Workshop topic 3: Ports
Ports of the future
Little Belgium has four sea ports that in 2016 processed 283 million ton of goods from nearly 30,000 ocean going vessels. And together they create work for more than 220,000 people. In other words, the maritime industry is hugely important for the Belgian economy, but it also comes at a major environmental cost. Also, the industry has little room to expand given the shortage of land in this country.
In this workshop we’ll explore ideas that will shape the future of our ports. For example, how can we improve the productivity and efficiency of our ports without building yet more docks or blowing more harmful gases in the atmosphere? How can we improve the connections with the hinterland, without further clogging up our already clogged up highways? And how can we accelerate the adoption of cleaner (hybrid/electric) and autonomous ships? Join us in this workshop to imagine the future of our maritime industry.