The Blue Eco Forum 2019, organised by eco-union within the framework of the Blue Tourism project, took place last Thursday 14 November at the Poblenou Campus of the Pompeu Fabra University. The conference was attended by about twenty participants from different organizations, such as Barcelona City Council, Seastainable Ventures, Hidria, Submon and Arco Latino, among others. The central theme was the integration of the ecosystem approach towards sustainable coastal and maritime tourism in the Mediterranean.
After a brief presentation of the workshop by Alejandro González (eco-union), the day opened with a debate on blue tourism and the environment in the Mediterranean. Outstanding international actors presented the challenges, opportunities, obstacles and needs related to the development of coastal and maritime tourism in such region. Jeremie Fosse (eco-union), Raffaele Mancini (Plan Bleu), Josep Rodríguez (Barcelona Provincial Council), Carla Danelutti (IUCN-Med) and José Jiménez (Polytechnic University of Catalonia), speakers in this initial debate, put emphasis on environmental repercussions, governance issues and instruments for blue tourism management.
This was followed by the first working session of the workshop, which consisted in the elaboration of a collective diagnosis of the situation and ways of improvement for the implementation of the ecosystem approach in coastal and maritime tourism in the Mediterranean. Using the World Café methodology, two working groups were formed to discuss current impacts of coastal and maritime tourism on ecosystem services, possible measures to implement the ecosystem approach in its management and key actors involved in environmental governance frameworks.
The afternoon session opened with the elaboration of a collective map of instruments and actions that participants deemed key to implement the ecosystem approach in coastal and maritime tourism in the Mediterranean. Participants were thus able to share, discuss and enrich their proposals in this direction, with which all of them are committed in their daily lives. Some of the actions proposed were the obligatory management of ecological anchors, the improvement of sanctioning procedures, the coastal guardianship as a management tool or the appropriate training of tourist operators. To close the workshop, a colloquial discussion took place around the conclusions of the day, as well as a debate on how to influence the Barcelona Convention to improve the integration of tourism in such environmental agreement. In summary, the day revolved around the collective identification of steps to follow to move towards a sustainable blue tourism that, as there can be no other way, must integrate the ecosystem approach in its management.