An exciting new Sustainable Business Initiative has been launched in the European Dive Industry. Green Bubbles is the EU-funded project dedicated to sustainable SCUBA diving. Green Bubbles kicked off in the beautiful coastal Italian town of Santa Margherita Ligure on 16th-20th of February 2015 on the Portofino Peninsula. Santa Margherita is located next to the famous Portofino Promontory Marine Protected Area on the northwest coast of Italy.
Recreational SCUBA diving has become a mass leisure activity engaging millions of divers worldwide. The diving industry generates large direct and indirect revenues for coastal communities and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Other benefits linked to diving include the promotion of ocean stewardship, contribution to scientific research, fostering social inclusion and personal development.
Scuba Diving can have Negative Impact
Yet, diving has also negative impacts, due to damage or disturbance of habitats and organisms, and to conflicts with local communities for the access to/use of the same resources, equity issues, or cultural clashes.
These aspects clearly relate to the three pillars of sustainability, covering environmental, economic and social dimensions and can only be addressed by a systemic approach.
The central objective of Green Bubbles is to maximise the benefits associated with diving while minimising its negative impacts, thus achieving the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the system.
Green Bubbles, funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 643712, is run by a consortium of nine entities, including universities, research organisations, educational organisations and SMEs from Italy, the Netherlands, Malta, Turkey, South Africa and the United States.
Further to its external advisory board, consisting of experts from the academia, the industry and international bodies, the project relies on a growing network of supporting dive centres and professionals, schools, local administrators, commercial operators and researchers.
The promotional activity of Green Bubbles, aimed at engaging divers, professionals and certifying agencies, has begun in March also taking advantage of the 2015 EUDI Show (Bologna, Italy). Its research work (Phase 1: assessment of the system) is already under way. This also includes the focus group discussion with the dive operators of the Portofino Marine Protected Area (one of the two case studies, along with Sodwana Bay in South Africa) held during the meeting and culminating with the signature of a first round of agreements (Memorandum of Understanding).
Phase 1 (assessment of the system) will revolve around questions such as: How is the diving system structured? How does it work? Where are its open issues, and where the opportunities?
Once the baseline is established, Phase 2 will begin thereby responding to the identified open issues and materialising the opportunities.
Finally, Phase 3 will develop tailored marketing and business plans (accompanied by targeted training) to facilitate the uptake by the system.
Green Bubbles’ Martina Milanese spoke about this Blue Economy initiative at the Blue Ocean Business Summit 2015. This online industry gathering kicked off on World Oceans Day June 8, 2015. Access all 36 interviews with industry trailblazers and change makers at at BOBSummit.com