Project Info

BlueAdapt project will develop innovative means for supporting sustainable blue growth in food production, energy production and tourism. We seek new societally impactful solutions and alternative development paths for sustainable transitions. We develop new practices for governance and means for regulation, which secure both the sustainability and resilience in water ecosystems, social and economic systems.

Reaching these aims requires better use of ecological data on water ecosystems by developing novel ecological models to create predictive understanding of lake and coastal systems. Based on an in-depth understanding of societal, economic, legal and environmental linkages and dependencies, regulatory models will be developed to enable an effective response to new environmental information.

In the BlueAdapt project the overall goal is to combine state-of the-art scientific research with stakeholder knowledge into a co-creation dialog, and develop a science-based governance framework to support adaptation and sustainable blue growth. We call this approach AGORA – Adaptive Governance Framework for Blue Economy. The AGORA will be constructed with a special attention to the ongoing policy process in national and EU level.

BlueAdapt project is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. The duration of the first half of the project is 2018-2021. The project is lead by the Finnish Environment Institute.

Modeling — Work Package 1

Anthropogenic pressures and impacts to aquatic ecosystems

In work package 1 we will examine what is the resilience of aquatic ecosystems in relation to blue growth and whether it is possible to identify tipping points that can lead to irreversible and catastrophic changes in ecosystems.

Work Package 1 will provide quantitative modelling tools that enable a robust scientific basis for the development of the adaptive governance framework together with the other packages. This will be achieved by conducting three tasks.

The first task is to develop scenarios of global and local case-study-regions on environmental and socio-economic factors and model the impact of these scenarios on river discharge and nutrient loading, which impact the quality of the aquatic environment.

The second task is to make statistical and mathematical predictions on the ecosystem responses to the ecological and socio-economic pressures identified.

The third task is to develop quantitative tools that enable efficient transferring of the scientific understanding generated into the adaptive management frameworks developed in the other WPs. The most important contribution of WP1 is to develop an adaptive government framework based on scientific results to support governance.

The key research questions that will be addressed in Work Package 1 are the following:

  1. What are the key drivers influencing the quality of aquatic environments?
  2. How do societal questions and challenges link to biodiversity ecosystem function and how the pressures are influencing biodiversity?
  3. What is the impact from ecological change on society and economy?
  4. How can solid scientific results help developing an adaptive government framework to support governance?
Experimentation & Innovation — Work Package 2

Promoting innovations and renewal of business models

Protection of blue resources calls for the renewal of business models and production patterns. Sustainability transitions are needed, for example, within agriculture, forestry and energy production. Transitions should support blue growth and the achievement of natural resource management goals. It is also important to find new ways to better utilize the potentials offered by fisheries, tourism and nutrient recycling, among others.

The call for sustainability transitions directs attention to the capacities of companies to innovate and to implement new solutions. The role of the public administration is to support innovation and to pave the way for new practices, business models and operational networks.

Drawing from recent experiences with transition management, BlueAdapt WP2 will develop and experiment novel forms of transition arena processes. For this, we draw from the lessons from the Smart Energy Transition (SET) project. Transition arenas are envisioned to operate as sites of collective innovation and action, and to provide data to evaluate the potential of transition management processes as they emerge in specific socio-material circumstances.

In the work package, transition arenas will be organized at two regions; Southwest Finland and Northern Savo. Both regions consist of several municipalities, but have their own regional administration. Southwest Finland is known for its beautiful Archipelago Sea that suffers from nutrient pollution. Northern Savo is part of the unique lake district that covers most of central and eastern Finland.

The transitions arenas will bring together blue economy experts in the regions. The processes will compile detailed transition pathways and identify concrete actions through which sustainable blue growth can be enhanced in the regions. The arenas generate initiatives for municipal, regional and national policy and planning processes. They also feed experiences and views to BlueAdapt “AGORA” (Adaptive governance framework for blue economy).

WP2 also identifies agents who can make a difference for the development, maturation and dispersion of sustainable new technologies and business-model innovations in the two regions. With the willing innovators and entrepreneurs we will investigate how the ideas could be developed into competitive market commodities or service concepts. These activities are supplemented with networking and business incubation events that bring together actors to learn about funding options and emerging business ecosystems.

Control Methods — Work Package 3

Adaptivity of regulation and policy

A key challenge of the environmental governance and regulation is uncertainty of the dynamic and complex socio-ecological system. Uncertainty calls for adaptive governance, which allows new scientific knowledge, new technologies and changing social values to be taken into account in the decision-making. Adaptive governance should be based on institutional, procedural and substantial regulatory mechanisms that make it possible to respond to environmental changes and new scientific knowledge.

This WP examines what legal factors and missing or ill-designed economic incentives significantly contribute to the deterioration of aquatic ecosystems, and limit the development of sustainable blue growth in food production, renewable energy, and tourism. We develop tools to assess adaptivity of regulation and explore using methods of empirical research and legal dogmatics how regulation on aquatic resources in EU-Finland use new knowledge produced, for example, by climate or ecological models.

Work package aims particularly to give answers how adaptivity of regulation governing aquatic resources in Finland can be improved to make it support sustainable blue growth. Sustainable blue growth is needed, on the one hand, to develop and increase the production of food and energy, and, on the other hand, to maintain and improve ecological resilience. Improved support of legal framework to sustainable blue growth can take place both through re-interpretation of the existing rules and through legislative changes. We identify innovative regulatory instruments together with international researchers and assess their suitability to Finnish conditions.

We build economic-ecological models to assess economic and environmental impacts of existing and new policy instruments. In particular, we will focus how policy instruments change economic incentives and what are implications of these changes for the environment and economy. Generally, this work package produces understanding what kinds of new legal and economic policy instruments could strengthen sustainable blue growth.

Recommendations — Work Package 4

Policy recommendations for Sustainable blue growth

In work package 4 we assess the growth potential of blue economy especially in three sectors: food and energy production and tourism. In the assessment we employ macroeconomic model. We will make use of the ideas and policy recommendations arising from other work packages, when assessing the growth potential of whole blue economy. We will also look into the significance of blue economy in boosting the whole economy in Finland, when multiplier impacts, such as import and export, and public economy are taken into consideration.

The assessment of growth potential of blue economy will provide backbone for policy recommendations of the project. In addition, we will utilise the modeling tools developed in work package 1 to assess the ecological impacts of the policy recommendations and sustainability of blue growth. Systematic interaction with the stakeholders is the prerequisite for the success of the adaptive governance framework for blue economy, AGORA.

AGORA is produced as a step-wise development, feed-back and assessment throughout the project. Already at the beginning of the project the key stakeholders will be invited to a Core Stakeholder Network to evaluate the results throughout the project. In addition, the Core Stakeholder Network will cocreate the policy recommendations of the project together with the researchers. The key outcome of the first 3 years will be a prototype of AGORA that is based on the interdisciplinary knowledge accumulated in WP 1–3. Evaluative interaction will be the first step to take during the second funding period (years 4–6) and will result in identification of development needs and adjustments of AGORA.

Research questions

  1. How the impact of human activities on ecosystem resilience and adaptation can be predicted?
  2. How can transition management support adaptation and sustainable blue growth?
  3. Which legal factors and economic incentives promote and limit the development of sustainable blue growth?
  4. How to integrate scientific results, innovations and cooperation to an adaptive governance framework?