Editorial: Clusters For ONE Blue Ocean Economy

norshipping-bluetech
Photo taken at Norshipping by Joshua Berger, Director of Maritime at Washington Maritime Blue

Editorial by Joshua Berger (Washington Maritime Blue) “There is just ONE Ocean”, Sir Peter Thompson, the UN’s Special Envoy to the Ocean reflected at this past February’s OECD Environmental Committee session on the topic. All of the globe’s ocean waters, resources, tributaries, impacts and interests are interconnected and interdependent.

On the UN’s World Ocean Day 2019, as I return to Seattle from Nor-Shipping where nearly 30,000 ocean and maritime industry stakeholders met is Oslo Norway from across the planet came to engage around a sustainable Blue Economy, I am struck once again by this fact.

Washington Maritime Blue is a strategic alliance for maritime sustainability and innovation. As a partnership between industry, public sector, research & training institutions and community organizations the mission is to create a world-class, thriving, and sustainable maritime industry through knowledge sharing, collaborative R&D, commercialization, business, and workforce development.

And yet, we are just one piece of a thriving network of cluster organizations, NGO’s, funders, accelerators, incubators, trade associations, policy makers and educators that are working to support this ONE Ocean Economy find a course towards resilience and a sustainable future. We work locally so that Washington’s maritime industry, communities and marine and coastal environment can thrive together. AND, we are part of a global network of business, people and the ocean ecosystem.

Taking part in a “Think Tank: Collaborative Networks in the ocean and shipping space” at the event, it became quite evident the many initiatives and organizations that have come together in the last few years to work on these very issues. There were twelve of us on the panel from San Diego to Helsinki – Portugal to Brazil.

As these networks are engaging with policymakers, businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators to find solutions there are as many common themes as there are differences and nuances on how we do our work. This can be a challenge or competition to attract members and capital or it can be an opportunity for impact and learning. 

Some of us excel at providing B2B connections. Some are exceptional at supporting entrepreneurs or directing capital at ocean solutions. Some of us will have more impact engaging policy makers with industry. Some are setting standards and best practices, educating communities and the next generation of our workforce. Some facilitate joint innovation. Some work locally, others globally.

At  Washington Maritime Blue we took to opportunity to sign a Letter of Intent to collaborate specifically with Norway’s NCE Maritime CleanTech Cluster. Having gotten to know each other over the last 18 months we recognize that we share a vision, expertise and complement each other’s work. This is not the first collaboration we’ve built and it most certainly will not be the last.

In nature, networks of systems spread organically and intersect with other networks as they find both commonalities, shared interest and links that can support one another’s needs and strengths. They may flourish individually, join, disconnect or even disappear. At a time when we are still on the precipice of change and the need for solutions is so great, we really must work to accelerate growth, not constrict our efforts. The ocean cannot tolerate inaction.

So Join. Join Washington Maritime Blue,  The Maritime Alliance, Sea Ahead, NCE Maritime CleanTech, NYMICGreen Shipping Programme, SEA 20, Green Marine, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Raa Labs, PortXL, Pole Mer, Singapore Maritime Cluster, Techstars EPS, theDOCKWorld Ocean Council (to name a few). Just join. Invest your various resources to sustain the one thing that connects our work, life and play. You too are part of the ONE Ocean.

This editorial was writen by Joshua Berger – Founder & Board Chair, Washington Maritime Blue, and originally appeared on linekdin