Understanding the Blue Economy - Seeker's Thoughts

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Understanding the Blue Economy

Introduction: - Blue Economy
Oceans cover 72% of the surface of the blue planet and provide a substantial portion of the global population with food and livelihood. Enhancing more than 80% of global trade, marine and coastal environments constitute a key resource for economic development. 

On the basis of the strategic location of the Indian Ocean region, IORA has emphasized on growing the Blue Economy in a sustainable, inclusive and people-centered manner.
Source- https://cdnext.credit-suisse.com

What is the Blue Economy?
The blue economy is envisaged as the integration of Ocean Economy development with the principles of social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and innovative, dynamic business models.
The first IORA ministerial Blue Economy conference was held Mauritius on 2-3 September 2015 where the Blue Economy declaration was adopted.
It is founded open a system approach, wherein renewable and organic inputs are fed into sustainably designed systems to fuel “blue growth”.

“Blue growth” addresses the problems of resources scarcity and waste disposal while delivering sustainable development that enhances human welfare in a holistic manner.
The main current focus of Blue Economy
The current focus of blue economy is confined to marine products, including minerals as if this is all it concerns. The concept to blue economy is much broader and encompasses even maritime activities, such as shipping services.

Why blue Economy is crucial for India?
India has huge potential to expand the blue economy, at the moment India is not utilizing marine resources to the fullest. Blue economy is very crucial for India’s economic development. India has a strategic location in the Indian Ocean region.
India is also developing its maritime infrastructure as well as its inland waterways and coastal shipping through the launch of the ambitious “Sagarmala Programme” which aims to revolutionize maritime logistics and port led developments in the country. India’s national vision about this sector is clearly articulated in the term “SAGAR” – security and growth for all in IOR which was coined by India.
Sea tourism is yet another area that needs immediate attention. Unlike other countries, cruise tourism is not explored as much, “Goa and Kerala are popular tourist destinations due to the sea and backwaters, but they have not given sufficient thrust cruise tourism.
The blue economy as a concept is not much explored in India because there are no specialized courses. Civil/mechanical/marine/naval architect students can orient themselves towards ocean energy, which is one of the various verticals of the blue economy.

Sustainable Blue Economy Conference

First sustainable Blue Economy Conference was held in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. It was organized by Kenya and co-hosted by Japan and Canada.

The theme was –The Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The conference was held on the momentum of UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 2015 climate change conference in Paris and UN ocean conference 2017 call to action. Over 17,000 plus participants from some 184 countries had participated in the conference.

 India was represented union minister for shipping, road transport & highways, water resources, river development, and Ganga rejuvenation. Other parties who participated in this conference are the World Wildlife Fund, WWF; International Maritime Organization, IMO; international seabed authority, ISA; World Bank; Exim bank; ocean foundation etc.

International Relations and Security
The Indian Ocean has always enjoyed a place of prominence in global strategy. Many nations have established a presence in the region to ensure their strategic interests. India was very active in the UN Adhoc committee that was set up to the India Ocean and supported the cause of keeping the Indian Ocean, a zone of peace during cold war.

However, with the reemergence of piracy issues and growing importance to secure the oceanic ecosystem, India has been pro-actively involved in cooperative arrangements with like-minded neighboring countries. The trilateral cooperative in maritime security between India, Sri Lanka, the and Maldives’ is one such example.
The India maritime security strategy published by the Indian Navy articulates country’s policy in the Indian Ocean region. It states that in the Indian Ocean region, India is committed to:

1-      Ensuring a safe , secure and stable Indian Ocean Region;

2-     Deeping security cooperation, through increased surveillance and monitoring with regional partners;

3-     Forging a multilateral cooperative maritime security initiative in the India Ocean to combat terrorism and piracy;

4-     Deepening cultural linkage with the people in region and

5-     Building Indian Ocean region as a frontier of sustainable economic development.

A way forward
In this era of advanced technology, oceans will become new centers of economic activity. Ocean already account for significant trade and commerce in the fields of shipping, offshore oil and gas, fishing, undersea cables, and tourism. Besides these areas, there are other emerging industries such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, ocean energy and sea-bed mining that have the potential to create jobs and spur worldwide economic growth.
The India Ocean region needs a sustainable and inclusive framework for international partnerships. Countries in the region need to not only coordinate and manage the growing security challenges in the region but also realize the substantial economic potential the Indian Ocean area presents.
India’s commitment to strengthen its cooperation with the regional partners and build sustainable oceans economy aligns well with its domestic mega modernization projects that will enable the nation to harness the full potential of the Ocean based Blue Economy.