In the last year the public debate about climate change has urged reflection on causes and related phenomena: natural resources exploitation, pollution and waste management, exhaustion of traditional energy sources, decline in biodiversity, economical systems footprint.
States and civil society initiatives have launched – though in alternate and different ways – strategies based on sustainability and green economy, where environment, society and economy are indissolubly connected. Among the 17 goals of European Union 2030 schedule for sustainable development we can find, in fact, climate action next to poverty and zero hunger, water resources protection and quality education, clean energy with peace and justice. From this perspective a concept close to green economy, lesser known and more radical, that aims at systemic solutions, assumes value: the blue economy.
What is blue economy
Blu economy has been theorised by the Belgian economist Gunter Pauli in 2009. It is actually the proposal of a different development mode. The blue economy principles and example cases have been described in the book The Blue Economy: 10 years – 100 innovations – 100 million, then reissued some years later in a 2.0 edition and available on the organization’s website. The blue economy theory indicates it is possible to obtain more work, more incomes, more wellness with less investment for environment protection and in full compliance with the limits ant rhythms of nature. The crucial difference with the green economy is the initial assumption: the blue economy does not aim to reduce emissions, but to get to zero emissions, with a complete reversal of the point of view.
Technology that imitates nature
Environment protection is no longer a cost. Economy must be reconsidered in an integrated system, where an advanced technology ”imitates” chemical, physical, biological process according to the natural ecosystems’ functions Some features of the model are:
- Biomimicry: the reproduction of natural processes to improve human activities and technologies.
- Ripple effect: one resource produces multiple benefits
- Circular economy: by the total recovery of waste in different production cycles
- Bioeconomy: the economy based on natural resources retention.
- Enhancement of territory: the production system is local and is based on what the territory can offer.
- Social value: human capital is favourably involved in processes, generating social fairness
- Cultural value: system cannot disregard the respect of local culture and traditions.
- Diversity: the blue economy is based on the peculiarities of the territories, thus avoiding standardized and serial systems.
Examples of blue economy
It is the organization’s own site that provides many standard blue economy cases. In Italy, among the applications of the principles of the blue economy, we find for example the circular economy projects of Versalis by Eni. Also mentioned is the Matrica joint venture for production from renewable raw materials such as bioplastics.
Another Italian start-up that has consolidated a new business is Funghi Espresso which produces mushrooms using coffee waste as a culture medium.
Coming out of the Italian case studies mentioned by the organization, the purification of water itself through ecological technologies is a good example of a circular economy when water is reused, for example, in irrigation.
Certainly the blue economy poses serious questions and challenging themes. Such a paradigm shift implies a change of mentality that is not immediate, but there is no doubt about the need to pursue decisively in the protection of our planet.