Tribune by Christophe Madrolle and Raphaël Rubio: ‘The sea, a new political space’.

Christophe Madrolle and Raphaël Rubio © DRX

The attraction to the Sea, for example, has been stimulated by the need to find other raw materials as well as alternative energy sources. As the earth’s resources are depleted, the ocean and its prospects attract blue growth. The figures are also significant. 90% of hydrocarbons and 84% of rare metals lie at the bottom of the oceans. Only 10% of the plant and animal species that live in the sea are known to scientists. The surfaces of the Moon and the planet Mars are probably, according to the accepted formula, better mapped than our own ocean floor. The sea ultimately remains the root and future of humanity.

The Ero-Mediterranean Blue Growth Fair (Euromaritime 2022), which opens this Tuesday 28 June in Marseille, will therefore face many challenges. The stakes are high. Around 260 exhibitors, 30 conferences, 17 start-ups and around 950 BtoB meetings, these are themes such as the multimodality of ports, logistics, security, support for activities at sea or even bio-resources, hydrography and the urgency of pollution that will be tackled frontally.

If the richness of the debates and the quality of the presenters will be part of the show’s strengths, its efforts are much broader: To raise the Sea, and especially the Mediterranean, into a new political space.

The purely technical management of environmental and maritime resources is, as we have emphasized, highly inadequate. Worse, it turns out to be conflict-ridden, even belligerent. The division of exclusive maritime zones has e.g. have been questioned for a long time, especially in the eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, the issues of decarbonisation, environmental constraints on construction sites, electrification at the quay, hydrogen for maritime professionals, transport and tourism, cannot be resolved without a political perspective.

Let us be clear, we are talking here about a revitalization of the concept of politics. The last 35 years have in fact been marked by a special handling of maritime and ecological issues. Its name, governance, is inspired by the Anglo-Saxon model. We now know that its principle is based on an illusion: to evacuate political decision-making in favor of pure knowledge, expertise and technique.

Recent climate and geostrategic problems, however, have made simple management obsolete. Then the time has come to rehabilitate politics.

Let us keep in mind how much the invention of politics depends on the sea. Ancient Athens, a thalassocratic power, owes its vision of the world to its openness and maritime trade. From the beginning, the sea involves the diversity of meetings, debate, collective decision-making, shared management of resources.

How can one today e.g. consider the issue of tourism, passenger transport and cruises without a joint and rational elaboration of a plan?

Similarly, how can you without planning think about logistical difficulties, the issue of flows or even the issue of cyber risk?

The sea is therefore calling for a new way of devising policy: If planning is necessary, it cannot be operational without involving the widest range of actors: companies, professionals, investors, local authorities, citizens, associations, states and regions, all must return to the path of political and democratic debate.

As such, a maritime parliament capable of enforcing itself as a source of proposals and innovations would be an interesting idea. Finally, as there is no policy without education, the creation of a Lycée and a Campus de la Mer here in Marseille would give our city significant international influence.

It is together and together that we will address tomorrow’s questions and challenges, whether environmental, social or economic. said Frédéric Moncany de Saint-Aignan.

This collective ambition, we believe, will be intimately political.

Christophe Madrolle is a member of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Regional Council. President of the Union of Centrists and Ecologists (UCE).

- Raphael Rubio is general secretary of the association Égali-terre. Professor of BTS Water Management and Control.

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