The Blue Book: Recommendations for the Mediterranean

© N.Pansiot/Tara Expéditions

In charge of Environment and Climate at Tara, André Abreu was responsible for organizing the stopover in Barcelona, where naturally he presided over one of the famous Tara Workshops he himself had initiated.

Beirut, Bizerte and Marseille, and Tangier already hosted this type of event. The idea is simple: bring together local activists to discuss the issues and actions concerning the marine environment. A focus on this project with André:

You are responsible for organizing the Tara Workshops that will result in the publication of the “Blue Book of Tara Mediterranean” when this 10th expedition is over. What is the purpose of this document?

The idea of organizing Tara Workshops came from our desire to listen to opinions of the local people in countries where the schooner passes. Usually when the boat arrives somewhere, we present our work. With Tara Mediterranean, we wanted to collaborate with local associations to understand and spotlight their actions.

This included coastal protection associations in Beirut or Bizerte, and NGOs for protection of marine biodiversity, ecologists, officials of local and regional institutions such as the Union for the Mediterranean, headquartered here in Barcelona. The aim was to bring together people who don’t usually talk to each other since they work in distinctly separate fields, and have them communicate. We invited them to attend our workshops, for a moment of informal sharing, so that ideas could easily develop.
These workshops will be summarized and published as the Blue Book of Tara Mediterranean.

How will the book be distributed and used?

First of all, the idea of the Blue Book has changed. Originally, we thought of writing a simple environmental report. But now we want to include testimonials, success stories, and more specific themes reported by local participants during Tara Workshops. Indeed, with Tara Oceans we found that the tempo of the science is not the same as for communication. It takes time for the samples to reveal their secrets, and for scientists to publish results. The Blue Book will make an initial assessment of the Tara Mediterranean expedition, pending scientific publications.

The book’s release is scheduled for May 2015. It will conclude with a list of recommendations, proposals for solutions to improve the health of the Mediterranean. The book launch will take place in several stages, and we’ve planned three events. We will organize a major conference on March 10th  and 11th in Monaco (in collaboration with the Surfrider Foundation and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation) on the topic of tomorrow’s plastics. In attendance, the scientific director of our mission, Gabriel Gorsky, NGOs, partners working on the transition to eco-designed packaging, industrialists and ecologists. Together, we will try to advance on a cocktail of solutions for this scourge of the 21st century. We are also planning a Tara Mediterranean soirée in Paris for the launch of the Blue Book, and a special event in Marseille with the Water Agency, one of our partners on this project.

Next year Tara will also be very involved in another event …

Tara Expeditions is involved in the Paris Climate Conference 2015. It is the Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Commission on Climate Change. A historic event for our planet, since this conference will be a key step in finding a possible legal framework following the end of the Kyoto Protocol.

We believe that after the success of the Conference of Heads of State for Climate organized by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN, we are on the right track. Nearly 400,000 people marched through the streets of New York on September 23rd.

Inspired by the success of our project “Blue Pavilion at Rio+20”, on the occasion of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, Tara has taken the initiative to lead, with a host of other participants, the Ocean and Climate campaign for the COP21. When we talk about climate, forests and carbon emission control are always mentioned, but we forget that climate control also depends on the ocean and the life it contains. We need the theme “healthy ocean” to be one of the priorities in the fight against global warming. This implies, for example, funding for marine research and for Marine Protected Areas. Projects linked to ocean conservation must be eligible for the compensating multilateral funds that will come out of this conference.

To provide the means for our ambitions, Tara Expeditions launched on June 8, 2014 a joint initiative with a handful of other groups — the Ocean Climate Platform — with a dedicated website, work groups, and a scientific committee. We’ve been working on this project for a year, and hope this platform can bring together about 200 organizations next year.

Interview by Noëlie Pansiot

Related articles:

- The Tara team.

- Focus on Tara Workshops video.

- Interview with Etienne Bourgois, President of Tara Expeditions.