Blue BALANCE: Sustainable Economic Development of Flemish Coastal Areas For All

01 July 2022 → 31 December 2025
Regional and community funding: IWT/VLAIO
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Landscape archaeology
  • Natural sciences
    • Marine pollution
  • Social sciences
    • Science and health communication
Flemish coast Blue economy social licence to operate
Project description

General goal
The BLUE BALANCE project aims to create support among citizens and tourists for sustainable economic activities along the coast (including coastal protection, blue food, renewable energy, ports and tourism).

As the coastal region has already gone through numerous communication and citizen participation processes regarding the sustainable transition we are facing, the project aims to gain a good insight into the strengths and weaknesses of these current and past processes, projects and initiatives. Central to this is the balance between environment, social and economic interests. The project aims to bring together existing interest groups, forums, etc. to examine how they can be used more optimally to generate support for economic activities along the coast, such as alternative food, coastal protection to renewable energy and sustainable tourism.

In addition, the local and historical circumstances and needs, habits and values ​​(= identity) of the different coastal municipalities and their inhabitants will be investigated and mapped. It also examines how coastal residents and tourists currently view sustainable innovations, projects and industries. Together, this knowledge forms a solid foundation for the development of successful communication strategies for sustainable interventions and awareness-raising.

The project investigates and tests through which (digital) interventions and means of communication coastal tourism can be used to reach all stakeholders and citizens. In concrete terms, various storylines will be developed that frame current sustainable activities within a long history of the Flemish coast and link them to the regional coastal identity.

Based on a geographical mapping along the Flemish coast, locations are carefully selected where economic activities can be linked to ongoing or planned sustainable actions (e.g. nature-based solutions, 'blue' food, heritage sites, GLAM institutions), with the aim of raising awareness and initiate dialogue between citizens and all stakeholders. Stimulating sustainable coastal tourism, in addition to developing social support for general sustainable development of the coastal region, is a direct result of BLUE BALANCE.

In addition to the close collaboration that the project requires between the consortium experts, a strong collaboration with the advisory board and the VLAIO spearhead cluster 'Blue Cluster' is crucial for the success of the project. Not only to gain insight into their vision of sustainable innovations, but also to implement the results in their operations and in this way to work out follow-up proce