In advance of the recent ministerial meeting in Cascais and next year’s UN Oceans Conference in Portugal, the Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Mr. Darragh O’Brien T.D welcomed attendees with a video message that highlighted Ireland’s cross-government approach to developing the country’s first marine spatial plan, from aquaculture to fisheries, tourism, and more with stress on supporting the working international relationships. With the help of Portugal, O’Brien noted that Ireland has the potential to harness offshore wind potential and protect the marine environment throughout the next decade and beyond to not only reduce carbon emissions but also to increase employment opportunities within the blue economy in both countries.

The Irish Ambassador to Portugal, H.E. Ralph Victory addressed conference attendees both in person and over live-stream, noting that, “If the global blue economy were compared to a national economy, it would be the seventh-largest in the world, and the ocean as an economic entity would be a member of the G7.” He went on to say that, “The UN sustainable development goals acknowledge that without healthy oceans, life on this planet is at risk.” The minister outlined that Ireland is playing their part on ocean issues by joining the World Bank’s pro-blue trust fund, the fisheries transparency initiative and the Asian developing bank trust fund in support of healthy oceans, and African and Pacific small island developing states respectfully.

Cláudia Coelho represented Knowledge Partner to the IPBN, PWC Portugal with initial comments, bringing to light the firm’s 10-year studies over the blue economy area as an area of untapped potential. According to Coelho, as part of the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), there is €252 million that Portugal will invest in the blue economy while the European Investment Fund (EIF) will increase their investments in the sector with a New BlueInvest Fund and others in excess of €345 million. Coelho further explained that 33 banks with more than $13 billion in assets have also signed the UN Collective Commitment to Climate Action, committing to align their portfolios to reflect and finance the low-carbon and climate-resilient economy.

To conclude the conference, Raquel Abecasis gave a short closing statement, introducing Invest Lisboa and its partnership with AICEP and giving us insights as to what is to come from their end. Abecasis said, “It’s an important moment that we are living now. We are finally facing a new era, post-covid, and I think environment and sustainability are the keywords for the future…the blue economy will be a more important reality for the future. Our geographic location, resources, and exclusive economic zone make Portugal six times larger than our neighbour, Spain, and that puts us in a privileged position when we compare ourselves with the rest of Europe.”

The IPBN would like to thank our knowledge partner PWC, the CCIP for hosting the event, all who attended the conference, and the speakers for the exceptional information they presented.