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This conference took place on 17 November. For any additional information, please contact:

Time: Two hours starting at 11:00 (10:00 in mainland Portugal and Madeira and 9:00 in the Azores).


Venue: webinar, basis on the Azores EU Office (Brussels).

Format: 7 minutes communications + 3 for questions and answers.

Language: English.


Goals: To share experiences and opportunities on the marine biodiversity sustainable use in Belgium and Portugal.

Summary: After the success of the “I Belgian-Portuguese Routes for Blue Economy” and in the context of the current pandemic crises, the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce decided that a second edition should be held with format adaptations, giving privilege to remote online participation. The second edition will have an emphasis on “Biodiversity” and will allow for contrasted approaches that will provoke new ideas and will stimulate unpredictable partnerships between companies, entrepreneurs, academia, funders and politicians. Hopefully the event will point to solutions to overcome constraints so that synergies between companies are encouraged.



  • Renewable Natural Resources (fisheries, aquaculture),

  • Biotechnology (pharmacology, cosmetics),

  • Bioengineer (coastal resilience),

  • Tourism and Ecotourism,

  • Marine biodiversity recovery, and

  • Nature Protection.


Welcome and opening: Rui Faria da Cunha, President of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce

Key-note speech: Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of Maritime Affairs, Portugal 

Video message: Vincent Van Quickenborne, Vice-Prime ministre and ministre of Justice and of the North Sea, Belgium

Panel I – Business and companies

  • Henrique Ramos, SeaExpert Marine biodiversity sustainable business opportunities in the Azores, 

  • Bert Groenendaal, AtSeaNova, Biodiversity and large scale aquaculture. Opportunities and experiences, 

  • Pedro Lima, Sea4Us, Use of marine biodiversity in creating medical solutions - an argument for marine conservation, 

  • Emile Lemey, Jan De Nul, Nature based solutions for coastal resilience. Practices enhancing bio-diversity.


Written Questions selected by moderator & Answers

Panel II – European strategy

Written Questions selected by moderator & Answers

Closing remarks: Rui Manuppella Tereno, Current trends in the marine economic relation between Belgium and Portugal, ambassador of Portugal to Belgium

Paula Abreu Marques, Head of Unit for “Renewables and CCS policy”, DG Energy, European Commission, is the moderator and rapporteur of the conference


Conference Documents


(Based in Duarte Bué Alves report for the “I Belgian-Portuguese Routes for Blue Economy.")


The ocean is of critical importance to the global economy. According to an OECD report (2016), its economic output is currently around 1.5 trillion USD, corresponding to 2.5% of the world gross value added. The same study projects that by 2030 this could reach USD 3 trillion, employing 40 million people, with significant growth expected in offshore wind energy, marine aquaculture, fish processing and port activities.

In such a context, the pressure on the ocean is rising and may jeopardise the long-term economic forecasts. The threats to blue economy are clearly identified (climate change; pollution; illegal fishing; overexploitation; biodiversity decrease) and these brings us to new challenges that economic stakeholders must identify and cope with. These challenges are in line with the most recent state of the art in terms of international priorities (inter alia Agenda 2030), as well as with the concerns of the business community.

The world’s seventh largest economy based on GDP doesn’t belong to a single country, and isn’t even on land, yet it’s valued at around $3 trillion annually, and supports the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people and a rich biodiversity. It’s the ocean (adapted from Kituyi and Bertarelli, 2020).

The ocean is vital for human well-being. Covering over two thirds of the planet, it contains rich biodiverse habitats, provides invaluable ecosystem services, is central to global food security, and absorbs significant amounts of heat and carbon dioxide. The ocean also presents immense opportunities for economic growth, employment and development. The ocean economy spans multiple sectors – including oil and gas, fishing, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, offshore wind energy, mining, and marine biotechnology – and is growing rapidly (in OECD 2020).

There exists a strong business case for scaling up action on biodiversity. Business impacts and dependencies on biodiversity translate into risks to business and financial organisations, including ecological risks to operations; liability risks; and regulatory, reputational, market and financial risks. Acknowledging and measuring these dependencies and impacts on biodiversity can help businesses and financial organisations manage and prevent biodiversity-related risks, while harnessing new business opportunities (in OECD 2019).

To use it wisely, biodiversity must be respected and used in a sustainable fashion. The potential decline in marine biodiversity could result in a varying and unpredictable change in the provision of goods and services, including reduced resilience and resistance to change, declining marine environmental health, reduced fisheries potential, and loss of recreational opportunities (adapted from Beaumont, ‎2008). Therefore, integrating biodiversity, nature-based solutions and regenerative designs into our future business is a must. It is feasible. How to do it has to be clarified.


Key ideas emerging from the “I Belgian-Portuguese Routes for Blue Economy”:

(Based in Duarte Bué Alves and Paula Abreu Marques reports for the “I Belgian-Portuguese Routes for Blue Economy.")

  • Sustainability and Sustainable blue economy;

  • Natural Capital management;

  • Scale projects up or to make them bankable;

  • Financial sector is also looking for long-term environmentally sustainable effects;

  • If interested, committed and competent, no-one should be left behind;

  • Research and development should be integrated in the daily life of private companies;

  • Private foundations have an important role to play;

  • Integrated and holistic approach to the economic value chain will cause benefit;


Portugal and Belgium, in particular

  • Take advantage of Belgium and Portugal coastlines, increasing structured cooperation;

  • Increase partnerships between Portugal and Belgium;

  • Mutual learning is crucial.



  • Respect and acknowledge learning curves;

  • Create solutions to access financing and capital;

  • Invest in R&D and to access new markets;

  • Need to diversify the blue portfolio;

  • Need to accelerate the potential of blue biotechnology, offshore wind farms, maritime based cosmetics and medicines, the role of algae in new food trends or the growing demand for rare-earth materials;

  • Need for more green and blue schools and education;

  • Acknowledge the growing weight of robotics in blue economy;

  • Use of marine robotics to expand knowledge to new deep or hidden frontiers;

  • Adapt to the European Green Deal and use the carbon neutrality by 2050 goal as an opportunity.


Main constraints

  • Need to think long term and to remember that offshore energy is an area where the EU is still leading world efforts; this is a sector where jobs can be created in Europe;

  • Need to think nature based and integrate bio-diversity drivers into our solutions.

  • Need to reinforce the interconnections both inland and offshore;

  • Need to avoid silo approach; oceans offer multiple uses that have to be accommodated; importance of an enabling maritime spatial planning; an integrated approach is necessary;

  • New skills are needed, not only pure technological, but also on system thinking and ecosystem services;

  • The EU has the right legislation and regulatory framework in place but it needs to be enforced and implemented correctly; monitoring of implementation is equally fundamental;

  • Need to come up with sustainable financing schemes;

  • It is important to integrate societal concerns and get public acceptance to the deployment of offshore energy;

  • International collaboration is needed and key for success to create the critical mass, accelerate innovation and deployment and reduce costs; partnerships like those being promoted between Portugal and Belgium are commendable.

Check a few snapshots obtained during the II Belgian-Portuguese Routes for Blue Economy:

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