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What is the blue economy?

  • Published at 10:51 pm August 22nd, 2019
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There is much potential in the waters Bigstock

How can we utilize our marine resources effectively? This is the concluding part of Thursday’s op-ed

Mauritius is one of the glaring examples of how a country taps into the resources available in her oceans. To fully tap the economic possibilities of the ocean, an ocean economy unit will be set up with the responsibility of preparing a National Ocean Policy Paper and the merging of the Mauritius Oceanography Institute and the Albion Fisheries Research Centre into one single institution to boost up research capacity on the ocean economy and in line with the institutional rationalization strategy. 

Moreover, an ocean observatory e-platform will be developed to support the Marine Spatial Planning Initiative of Mauritius, and a geo-technical study will be conducted in the extended continental shelf management area of the Mascarene region to explore its potential. According to the Budget, a Group Life Insurance Scheme will be launched for registered fishermen to cover any accidents and losses at sea.

Concept at the core of the blue economy concept is the de-coupling of socio-economic development from environmental degradation. To achieve this, the blue economy approach is founded upon the assessment and incorporation of the real value of the natural (blue) capital into all aspects of economic activity (conceptualization, planning, infrastructure development, trade, travel, renewable resource exploitation, energy production/consumption). 

The blue economy approach recognizes and places renewed emphasis on the critical need for the international community to address effectively the sound management of resources in and beneath international waters by the further development and refinement of international law and ocean governance mechanisms. 

Governance of the oceans and seas is a key global challenge. The number of international conventions and regional agreements makes it very difficult to ensure effective participation by coastal countries. Therefore, there is an increasing need for regulation on the basis of an appropriate balance between the demand for ocean’s natural resources and their sustainability. Oceans are facing significant existential ecological risks that can negatively affect the social and economic prospects of all countries, particularly poor countries that are acutely dependent on oceans. 

Climate change, increased emissions of carbon dioxide, over exploitation, and poor management of marine resources, including fisheries, waste-water runoff, pollutants into waterways -- all need to be considered seriously. Sustainable use of oceans is critical to poverty reduction, food security, livelihood sustainability, and mitigating climate change. 

As mismanaged mass tourism may negatively impact coastal eco-systems depending on its impact which is also linked to the sustainable use of marine protected areas. Renewable energy, water treatment, marine wildlife watch, and ecosystem conservation also have close synergistic relations with sustainable tourism. The pollution generated by maritime transport, and especially ship-source oil, is also a large concern on Friday. 

With a view to improving food security, eradicating poverty, and delivering shared prosperity, global leaders, ocean practitioners, scientists, and representatives from government, businessmen, civil society, and international organizations must come together to explore action-oriented partnerships, governance arrangements, investment frameworks and financing vehicles to turn the tide not only on the health of oceans but also how the resources of the sea could be used for economic emancipation. 

The functions of a blue economic zone

Proper and effective utilization of marine resources are of key importance for promoting Bangladesh as a middle-income country. Bangladesh has a huge possibility to enrich her economy with sea-based resources through ensuring a sustainable balance between the protection of the marine eco-system and marine resource and can now create more space to ensure her economic growth through new investments in marine trade and commerce. 

The World Bank Group identified job creation as a pre-condition to achieve middle-income status for Bangladesh by 2021. So, it is the high time for Bangladesh to use her unemployed youth by creating more jobs opportunities for them. Bangladesh government should go ahead with government and non-government joint investments through well-timed actions enacting exhaustive rules and regulations to ensure proper use of marine resources at the blue economic zone. 

If Bangladesh becomes able to utilize her marine resources actively, it is quite possible for her to be a middle-income country within a short period of time. The present study has tried to point out the possible contribution of the blue economy to make Bangladesh a middle-income country. Further research may be necessary to make a detailed account about the prospects of blue economy in the development of the future Bangladeshi economy.

Masihul Haq Chowdhury is Managing Director and CEO, Community Bank Bangladesh Limited.