What is Blue Economy?

The term ‘blue economy’ refers to the exploitation, protection, and regeneration of the marine environment in terms of economics. Its breadth of interpretation differs among organizations. However, when discussing a sustainable development approach to coastal resources, the word is most commonly employed in the context of international development. This can cover a wide range of economic sectors, from traditional fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, coastal, marine, and maritime tourism, or other traditional uses, to more emerging areas like coastal renewable energy, marine ecosystem services (i.e. blue carbon), seabed mining, and bio prospecting.

Blue economy is an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or 'blue' resources.
“Blue economy is an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or ‘blue’ resources.”

The World Wildlife Fund’s Principles for a Sustainable Blue Economy seek to summarize the notion of the Blue Economy in order to ensure that ocean economic development leads to true prosperity. The paper contends that a sustainable Blue Economy should be controlled by inclusive, well-informed, adaptive, accountable, transparent, holistic, and proactive public and private systems. To achieve these objectives, public and private actors must establish measurable goals, assess and communicate their performance, establish adequate rules and incentives, effectively govern the use of marine space, develop standards, recognize that marine pollution typically originates on land, and actively collaborate to promote change.

Definition of blue economy

According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.”

The European Commission defines it as “All economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts. It covers a wide range of interlinked established and emerging sectors.”

What is blue economy? | Photo: US Government
What is blue economy? | Photo: US Government

The Commonwealth of Nations considers the blue economy “an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or ‘blue’ resources.”

Conservation International adds that “blue economy also includes economic benefits that may not be marketed, such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values and biodiversity.”

The Center for the Blue Economy says “Blue economy is now a widely used term around the world with three related but distinct meanings- the overall contribution of the oceans to economies, the need to address the environmental and ecological sustainability of the oceans, and the ocean economy as a growth opportunity for both developed and developing countries.”

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