Opportunities for sustainable economic development of the coastal territories of the Baltic Sea Region in the context of digital transformation
The article explores opportunities for the sustainable economic development of coastal territories in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) arising in blue economy sectors in the framework of digital transformation. The study argues that a more active commercialisation of territorial resources can facilitate the sustainable economic development of the BSR coastal territories, following digitally-driven innovations. The paper provides an overview of methodological approaches to territorial sustainability. It also assesses the 2009—2018 level of the socio-economic development of the BSR coastal territories, underpins the importance of the blue economy and highlights the role of digital transformation in reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the BSR through digitally-driven innovations. A comparative and problem-targeted statistics analyses show significant differences in the level and dynamics of socio-economic development in the BSR coastal territories with their GRP per capita being generally lower than the national or macroregional average. A review of literature on sustainable development in the BSR has shown that a more active use of unique resources of the coastal territories along with a technology-driven growth of blue economy sectors can counterbalance the negative impact of the territories’ uneven development on the progress towards the SDGs in the BSR. Increasing the competitiveness of the BSR coastal territories requires investment in digital solutions in the blue economy sectors and the creation of a communication infrastructure. The review of key innovations in the blue economy sectors shows that their implementation gives impetus to other industries by reducing costs, creating new jobs, and improving the quality of products and services.