Dhaka, Bangladesh
EU invites Bangladesh to take benefit from ‘Horizon 2020’

Tapping potentials of blue economy

EU invites Bangladesh to take benefit from ‘Horizon 2020’

News Report Just a day after Prime Minister’s International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi stressed the need for reaping the optimum benefits from the emerging ‘blue economy’, the European Union has invited Bangladeshi research organisations to acquaire skill aiming to reach the targeted goal. The Head of the European Union delegation in Dhaka has invited Bangladeshi research organisations and private sector players to take benefits of its flagship ‘Horizon 2020’ programme for blue economy- related activities. The Head of the European Union delegation in Dhaka Ambassador Rensje Teerink speaking at a seminar on Sunday asked research organisations and private sector players to invest their ‘time and effort’ in exploring opportunities in the blue economy in the context of ‘Horizon 2020’ which funds research and innovation in Europe and beyond. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali who was present as the chief guest stressed “quality research” to get maximum benefits of blue economy, opportunities of which arose after the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes with neighbours Myanmar and India. The foreign ministry and the EU Delegation in Dhaka co-organised the seminar to raise awareness on “Blue Economy and EU Horizon 2020”. The blue economy became a buzz word in Bangladesh’s diplomacy. But the resources in the sea remained largely untapped. Experts say Bangladesh need to invest in knowledge, develop marine skills, and encourage innovation and business. Ali thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for resolving the maritime boundary dispute and acknowledged the shortcomings. “We have still a long way to go. We need to translate our diplomatic success into a major source of resources and contributor to our economic development,” he said, adding that Bangladesh has now a sea with immense living and non-living natural resources. “It is high time to go beyond traditional economic activities and explore maritime resources for achieving sustainable development goal. Both private and public initiative is simultaneously required.” “Fish alone has 500 varieties, besides snails, shell fish, crab, shark, octopus and other animals,” he said, adding that both public and private efforts needed to convert sea into Bangladesh’s strength. “We need quality research to exploit and explore the maritime potential. Horizon 2020 is EU’s unique initiative to pursue financial assistance,” Ali said. The EU’s priority in marine and maritime research is driven by its own blue growth strategy that aims to create more growth and jobs in Europe as well as the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The blue economy will continue to be an EU priority even in the upcoming research framework programme which has been named the ‘Horizon Europe’ and will be up for business from 2021 to 2027. Bangladeshi entities can explore opportunities in both collaborative projects and individual research grants. According to the EU, collaborative projects are awarded mainly under the pillar ‘industrial leadership and societal challenge’ while individual research grants are provided under the pillar ‘excellent science’ and funded through two instruments including the ‘Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships’ and the ‘European Research Council’. In addition, Bangladeshis can look for individual research grants and research jobs in Europe using the ‘Euraxess’ portal which is a tool developed to find and recruit research talent from across the world as well as to enhance scientific collaboration between Europe and the world. But Bangladesh’s participation in the H2020 has been “minimal”. The success rate is around 10.7 percent, which is lower than other third countries. In the previous work programme (2014-2017), 33 proposals were submitted involving 39 applications. Only three proposals were retained for funding and two Bangladeshi entities received funding. The EU expecting more Bangladeshi participation under the current programme of 2018-2020 as it is holding awareness raising seminars among the stakeholders in Dhaka and Chittagong. “EU stands ready to support Bangladesh with its future maritime vision,” said Ambassador Teerink. “Bangladesh’s blue economy is largely untapped and holds immense economic potential. We are keen to help Bangladesh take forward the blue economy activities.” In the face of a scarcity of resources and a large population size, Bangladesh’s sea resources can meet food, medicine and energy needs, she said. “Multilateral partnerships such as Horizon 2020 can help address challenges in areas such as health, food, energy, water and climate change in the most effective and sustainable way,” she said. Retired Rear Admiral Md Khurshed Alam, secretary of the maritime affairs unit at the foreign ministry, sought EU’s cooperation in “mariculture” in open water in the Bay of Bengal. He said the additional requirement of fish in the next 10 years would not be possible to meet by the conventional methods of cultivating in the land and by capturing more. “We’ll need culture technology in open water in the sea for that,” he said, seeking EU’s support. Bangladesh does not have that technology, though it is common in the European countries, he said. On Saturday, Dr Rizvi was addressing a discussion on ‘Potential of Blue Economy in Transforming Future Bangladesh’ at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in the city’s Khamarbari area. “We need to give more importance on research and knowledge. We have made great strides…we want to fully utilise the opportunities (blue economy). Without research, without building human resource capacity, without developing skills, we will not be able to do that,” he said. Bangladesh Agricultural Economists Association (BAEA) arranged the discussion with its President and Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office Sajjadul Hasan in the chair.

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