Within the scope of the H2020 BRIDGE-BS project, the first of the three rounds of Living Labs planned to take place at the pilot sites of the BRIDGE-BS project has been successfully completed. As an instrument to empower local communities in terms of the sustainable management of the Black Sea, breaking sectoral silos, and ensuring a systemic approach, the first round of the Living Labs was a significant step for further actions.
In this context, on the 26th of January and 1th of February, the first BRIDGE-BS Living Lab was held in two stages in Constanta and Tulcea, Romania with the collaboration of NIMRD and GeoEcomar. By introducing the Living Lab concept as a priority, a confidential foundation was created where everyone could hear different perspectives, enabling fruitful discussions on environmental issues in the Romanian coastal region.
Afterward, on January 27-28, the second Living Lab was organized by IO-BAS and IBER-BAS in Burgas, Bulgaria with two online sessions focusing on Sustainable Blue Economy in the Black Sea were heavily attended by NGOs, fisheries associations, education, tourism, and local governments. The structure of living labs, terminology in ecosystem services, Black Sea multi-stressors, innovations, opportunities, challenges, and needs for the development of a sustainable blue economy in the Black Sea region were discussed as the main focuses.
As a way to build an interactive bridge between people from various industries and specializations, the 3rd BRIDGE-BS Living Lab was organized on January 28 in Batumi, Georgia by the Tbilisi State University. Participants from policy, business, NGOs, and academia identified the blue economy potential as well as the marine ecosystem services offered by the Georgian Coastal Region.
On February 16-17, the 4th BRIDGE-BS Living Lab was arranged with the cooperation of Istanbul University, TUBITAK MAM, TEPAV and TUDAV in Istanbul Turkey, with industry representatives of various institutions and organizations. Within this scope, risks, pressures, and main needs for the Black Sea were identified by prioritizing fundamental marine ecosystem services to develop a sustainable blue economy in the Black Sea. Furthermore, innovative 4.0 industry approaches for a sustainable blue economy and enhanced ecosystem services in the Black Sea were highlighted.
Before their Living Lab session, Sinop University aimed to have a preliminary preparation with an initial meeting with selected stakeholders to communicate BRIDGE-BS and explain ecosystem services and multi-stressors. After this preliminary informative meeting, Sinop University organized their Living Lab on 25 May in Sinop, located on the Black Sea coast of Turkey. With great participation from governmental institutions, municipalities, foundations, associations, and the press, the last BRIDGE-BS Living Lab identified basin-wide key ecosystem services and expanded interactive discussion on the challenges and needs in the Black Sea.
Thus, as planned, all Living Lab sessions were successfully held and the first round was finally completed. It was a highly fruitful and outstanding round with participants from multiple disciplines and fields in different Black Sea basins.