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Thematic overview

Marine Environment & Blue Economy are essential for the well-being of populations, since they provide food security and climate resilience for billions of people worldwide, support biodiversity, and foster sustainable socio-economic growth. Therefore, the Action Plans of International Financial Institutions, on one hand, focus on ensuring the economic growth of developing countries, through the promotion of inclusive livelihood opportunities and the sustainable development of key oceanic sectors such as tourism, maritime transport and renewable energy. On the other hand, they are interested in preserving the health of coastal and marine ecosystems, through the management of marine litter and pollution, and the improvement of sustainable fisheries governance. The GDA AID Marine Environment & Blue Economy activity aims to deliver value-adding products and services to assist the IFIs teams involved in the framework of their current operation and their strategic goals over the coming years on the marine environment and Blue Economy.

Marine Themes

  1. Ecosystem Protection and Management
Ecosystems are complex environments, and their delicate balances are increasingly under stress, with human interference and/or climate change as the most notable drivers of performance degradation. EO data can play an important role in assessing the status of ecosystems, on all scales, from local to global, particularly elucidating the spatial extent and inter-relationships between ecosystems and their relationship to the areas of human habitation and activity dependent upon them.
  1. Water Quality
Coastal environments are susceptible to anthropogenic pressure, pollution and climate change. EO methodologies allow retrieving water quality parameters, such as chlorophyll-a concentration, water turbidity, water transparency, sea surface temperature, etc. which are crucial for evaluating the eutrophic status of coastal waters which is the most important and long-lasting water quality problems for densely populated and industrialized countries.
  1. Water Pollution Assessment and Monitoring
The inefficient management and disposal of wastewaters, the uncontrolled overuse of fertilizers, the steady increased use of plastic items entering the marine water and the increasingly frequent oil discharges from tankers, lead to adverse consequences on the coastal and marine environment, wildlife and human health. Satellite sensors can detect the anomalous trends of biophysical parameters correlated to water pollution, enabling the assessment and monitoring of impacts over very large areas more efficiently than with traditional in situ monitoring, and at the same time surveil oil spills fighting illegal discharges.
  1. Assessment and tracking of environmental damages from maritime disasters
This use case focuses on oil spills as a particularly devastating type of disaster with both severe environmental and economic impacts. Mapping oil spills, monitoring their propagation or understanding how they originated is of key importance to a coordinated and targeted effort to clean up the spill and/or assess the current and predict the future impact of the oil spill in the ecosystems. Satellite-based remote sensing (particularly with weather-independent SAR imagery) is the state-of-the-art method to cover large areas and rapidly assess an oil spill disaster and monitor it for the duration of the spill and clean-up.
  1. Detection and assessment capabilities for fishery resources
Identification of the most favourable areas for fishing and fish stock protection activities, based on modern techniques, is essential for the sustainable development and implementation of the Blue Growth strategy. Earth Observation data can be successfully used to raise fishing efforts’ efficiency and contribute to a good document establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Satellite tracking also plays a fundamental role in fighting regional illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
  1. Shoreline and riverbank erosion mapping
The Use Case focuses on supporting stakeholders to quantify and manage their ‘sediment capital’ along coasts and rivers. The EO-based information about coastal erosion/accretion and forecast as well as the sediment resource monitoring and stock estimation will be provided in high spatial and required temporal resolution, in order to better manage coastlines and riverine systems.
  1. Assessment of marine environmental impacts from port infrastructure and operations
Ports are elements that can strongly impact the coastal ecosystem due to the concentration of human activities and in particular ship activities that are causing new environmental problems such as chronic oil pollution, leakage of oil and chemical substances, engine emission etc. Satellite surveillance using SAR and optical data (including VHR data) has been widely adopted as a powerful operational tool enabling the assessment of impacts from port infrastructures and operations.
  1. Provide a strategic and integrated Marine Spatial Planning roadmap
Seas and oceans offer unprecedented opportunities for Blue Growth, ranging from maritime transports to fisheries, from tourism and recreational activities to energy. All those activities are growing and are expected to expand over the next years, calling for careful spatial planning to prevent conflicts between economic development, nature conservation and policy decisions. A knowledge-based allocation of marine space is extremely necessary and still a challenge. In this scenario, EO datasets and products are precious for informative planning of marine spaces, evaluating different scenarios, avoiding conflicts for space allocation, forecasting potential impacts, ensuring the good status of marine ecosystems, and assessing impact during plans implementation.  

Supported IFIs initiatives (to be confirmed and expanded)

  • Blue Economy Action Plan (PROBLUE) (World Bank)
  • Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies (Asian Development Bank)

Consortium members