Academic specialists and regional stakeholders help map Lancashire’s blue economy

Four people sit around a table talking. One of them is pointing to a map on a piece of paper that is sitting on the table.

Researchers from Lancaster University, along with local government and key regional figures have taken the first steps towards mapping a key aspect of Lancashire’s economy.

The newly-founded People and the Ocean Knowledge and Action Hub of the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business aims at gathering wide-ranging expertise on the vast array connections that exist between people and the coastal and marine environment.

The Hub led by Dr Celine Germond-Duret, a Lecturer in Environmental Politics and Policy in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, who is an expert in sustainability, marine policy and the blue economy.

To celebrate its launch, the Hub held a roundtable entitled “A regional blue economy?” that gathered academic experts and regional stakeholders.

Dr Germond-Duret (pictured below) said: “The blue economy is a concept that has been endorsed by a wide range of actors, private and public, at the national and international levels, and has generated a lot of interest from scholars, but for local and regional stakeholders, it can be difficult to grasp what it exactly entails.

“For instance, it is not just about the economy! It contains a sustainability dimension, which differentiates it from a mere maritime economy. One of the aims of our roundtable was precisely to clarify the concept, and to determine, together, what the blue economy means for Lancashire, what opportunities and challenges lie ahead, and how we at Lancaster University and within the Pentland Centre can best support local and regional partners.”

Dr Celine Germond-Duret stands in front of a microphone talking to an audience. Behind her is a banner for the Pentland Centre for Sustainability in Business

The event saw Dr Emma McKinley, from Cardiff University (pictured below), and Professor Gordon Winder, from the University of Munich, provide academic insights on the blue economy concept. They highlighted its diversity and the need for place-based approaches – differentiating Lancashire from other geographical areas, for instance.

Participants, including representatives from Lancaster City Council, local Chambers of Commerce, and wildlife conservations bodies, engaged in a mapping exercise, using their insights and interpretation of the blue economy to reflect on its regional dimension.

The event presented the findings of the Mapping Blue Business project, which identified sectors, businesses and jobs that contribute to a Lancashire blue economy. The report was in-part commissioned from the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub.

Dr Emma McKinley talks to an audience in a large room.

The team behind the project at Lancaster University reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the subject. In addition to Dr Germond-Duret, , it includes Professor Jan Bebbington, Director of the Pentland Centre; Dr Josiane Fernandes, a Lecturer in Marketing; Professor Magnus George, a Professor of Entrepreneurship; Dr Martin Quinn, a Reader in Organisation, Work and Technology; and PhD researcher and Sophie Standen, from Lancaster Environment Centre.

Professor Bebbington added: “We are delighted to be adding focused knowledge and action hubs to the work of the Pentland Centre, and the People and the Ocean Hub has started the way we mean to go on, by engaging with practice and co-designing research for wider benefit and real-world impact.

“This is the essence of a sustainable development approach and one that is very much required for the complex business ecosystem that affects marine industries with a presence in Lancashire, whether they are in the ocean, on the coast or further inland.”

A group of people stand around a table pointing to a map in the middle of them all.

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