The Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform (MedBESP) – previously known as Virtual Knowledge Center – is a regional networking platform for sharing knowledge and supporting the development of the blue economy. It can be defined as a “one-stop shop/online web portal allowing for the consolidation and sharing of general, technical and sectoral information related to marine and maritime affairs in the Mediterranean”.
The MedBESP is a web-based portal aimed at providing a systemic and coherent framework to improve maritime governance in the Mediterranean by promoting and achieving:
- a more strategic, integrated and coordinated approach to policies and actions impacting on the sea;
- inter-systems co-operation and synergies across sectors and borders at regional, sub regional and national level;
- a common and coherent framework, bearing in mind regional specificities of the Mediterranean, to enhance exchange and dissemination of knowledge, networking and capacity-building.
The MedBESP aims at establishing a large Blue Economy Community in the Mediterranean basin, where users play a key role to improve, disseminate and widen the impact of blue economy activities. Among others, the MedBESP is a platform to facilitate contacts between existing education networks, exchange information including pedagogic tools and serve as an interface for mobility programs.
How it works?
The MedBESP is a user-friendly system organized in thematic sections and specific sub-sections, which includes:
- a search tool to allow users to easily look for projects, stakeholders, partners, experts, initiatives, etc. within a unique Blue Economy database;
- an interactive map representing a user-friendly alternative way for reaching the contents for geographical areas;
- a regular update on the latest news, upcoming events and recent publications related to blue economy;
- an upload system where registered users can upload news, events, publications, projects and register themselves as experts or stakeholders;
- a library with training material on blue economy available through videos, presentations and reports;
- a messaging system that allows to interact, exchange knowledge among the users of the platform, extend the network and form new partnerships.
The MedBESP is an operational tool at disposal of the Mediterranean region, funded by the EU and managed by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) since April 2017.
The MedBESP was promoted by the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the International Maritime Organization with the name “Virtual Knowledge Center”. The objective was to provide a centralized platform for marine and maritime information and to improve synergies across different initiatives and projects to facilitate coordination and cooperation in the Mediterranean region.
The commitment to and scope of the MedBESP was presented and confirmed during various events between 2012 and 2013 and culminated with the conclusion of the Council of the European Union on 25th June 2013 which: “WELCOMES the political commitment for supporting the blue economy of the Mediterranean as expressed at the 12th Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) Conference held on 18-19 April 2013 in Athens and LOOKS FORWARD to further marine and maritime cooperation across all coastal States on maritime clusters, networking of training institutes, safety and surveillance and the establishment of the Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform in particular”.
The original mandate to develop the framework for the creation of the Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform was provided in the context of the “The Integrated Maritime Policy for the Mediterranean” (IMP-MED) project, funded by the European Commission EuropeAid Cooperation Office (AIDCO), in cooperation with Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), which seeks to provide opportunities to nine southern neighbourhood States in the Mediterranean to engage in and obtain assistance for developing integrated approaches to marine and maritime affairs.
In the context of the Commission Implementing Decision of June 18 th 2014, concerning the adoption of the work programme for 2014 in the framework of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the use of the operational technical assistance, serving as financing decision, Annex 1, action 18.104.22.168.(Support research work for blue economy development and innovation through the Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform) follows up on the aforementioned initiative developed over 2011-2013 between the European Commission, the International Maritime Organization and the European Investment Bank providing support research work for the development of the content and the sustainability of the MedBESP, allowing the future structure in charge of its management to continuously collect and update information.
On 17 November 2017, the UfM Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy stressed the need “… to strengthening coordination and cooperation in the area of maritime affairs in order to improve maritime governance and achieve a conducive environment for the blue economy in the Mediterranean Sea basin, in particular by…..stressing the importance of establishing appropriate networking mechanisms for blue economy stakeholders around the Mediterranean and tasking the UfM Secretariat to develop further the Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform on marine and maritime affairs…”
On the 2nd February 2021, the 42 Member Countries agreed to intensify their efforts towards a sustainable blue economy in the Mediterranean by adopting the 2nd Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Blue Economy . In particular, the Ministers called for “further use of the Mediterranean Blue Economy Stakeholder Platform managed by the UfM Secretariat to facilitate contacts between existing education networks, exchange information including pedagogic tools and serve as an interface for mobility programs”.
The first version of the MedBESP was launched to provide a gateway to search for and have access to the information from different sectors in an organized and structured manner.
Since then, the platform has been object of technical improvements to enhance the access to information, the interaction among stakeholders and the user-friendliness. Due to the increasing interest on online trainings and e-learning tools related to blue economy, a new section of the platform has been created to gather thematic training material.