BLUE BALANCE aims to increase public engagement and participation in the sustainable transition of the Flemish coastal region. The project is set on developing a social license to operate for sustainable (economic) activities. BLUE BALANCE focuses in particular on bringing residents and tourists of the Flemish coastal region into dialogue with local industrial stakeholders and policy makers.
To achieve this goal, the project partners are using a multidisciplinary approach that includes social psychology, marine and maritime sciences, archaeology, and media and communication sciences. This approach includes the following:
- Studying personal values among individuals living in, or visiting the Flemish coastal region as a tourist. The researchers are hereby gaining in-depth insights in the underlying psychological drivers, barriers and processes that influence individuals’ support for and involvement in sustainable coastal innovations and processes, as well as (their perception of) regional (group) values and norms. Additionally, personal and group values and norms, linked to the sea / coastal area and their (historical) identity will be studied. These insights will form a solid basis for the development of successful communication strategies concerning sustainable developments along our coast.
- Identifying, mapping and studying the development of the coastal landscape through time as well as its coastal sites with cultural and natural heritage. These sites will be linked to sustainable innovations and present-day issues. This deep map will be used to explore the optimal framing of messages (e.g., history, health, economy) and how to employ cultural and natural heritage for the sustainability agenda via storytelling.
- Best practices from past and ongoing projects will be used to gain insights into the foundations for sustainable transition. The stakeholder landscape will be assessed and optimal methods to engage stakeholders in participatory processes will be sought. Also, the researchers want to identify for which future sustainability projects and innovations a social license to operate is most crucial.
- Which interventions and communication tools stakeholders can use to raise awareness, inform and engage citizens will be studied and tested.
The BLUE BALANCE project is funded by the Flemish government through Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) and is facilitated by Blue Cluster. It is a collaboration between different groups of Ghent University: Marine@UGent, the Center for Persuasive Communication (CPEC) and the Historical Archaeology Research Group (HARG), HOWEST: Digital Arts and Entertainment (DAE) and Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).