UN ocean conference: 'Blue Deal' to enable sustainable use of ocean resources for economic development

Post-COVID-19 economy should prioritise sustainability, resilience in ocean-based value chains.

By Rohini Krishnamurthy
Published: Wednesday 29 June 2022
UN ocean conference: 'Blue Deal' to enable sustainable use of ocean resources for economic development Photo: iStock

A “Blue Deal” is being promoted at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference to enable the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth.

It includes global trade, investment and innovation to create a sustainable and resilient ocean economy, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Coastal and island developing nations can benefit from the sustainable development of the ocean economy, including fisheries and aquaculture, coastal tourism, maritime transport, offshore renewable energy, ecosystem services and marine genetic resources, UNCTAD stated.

It can create jobs and generate revenue for these nations, the experts said. Currently, the sea facilitates over 80 per cent of the volume of world trade, they added.

The ocean is home to 80 per cent of the world’s organisms. But it is being impacted by acidification, oxygen loss, marine heatwaves as well as the melting of sea ice and glaciers. 

“The ocean’s resources provide food, jobs and income for almost 3 billion people, most of whom live in developing countries,” the organisation said in a statement.

These resources and opportunities are under threat and their protection is underfunded, it added.

The ocean, according to the UN organisation, is the “next great economic frontier” as it holds potential for wealth and economic growth, employment and innovation.

It also said that it was offering support to developing nations to improve their trade policies to ensure the sustainable use of the ocean, seas and coasts for economic growth while preserving the health of the ocean.

In October 2021, experts from UNCTAD brought out a research paper proposing a global trade, investment and innovation Blue Deal.

The experts argued that the post-COVID-19 economy should prioritise sustainability and resilience in ocean-based value chains.

The COVID-19 pandemic unevenly impacted ocean sectors such as marine fisheries, marine and coastal tourism and maritime transport, according to the report.

The paper listed a set of action-oriented policy recommendations to build a post-COVID-19 Blue Recovery in trade, finance and innovation.

Some of the recommendations include expanding digitisation efforts to lower costs for business in developing countries, setting up a blue bank for investments, and improving regulations of blue finance.

“All of these suggestions can be seen as a call for a Blue New Deal, as sister to the Green New Deal already gaining political support and traction around the world,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

These policy recommendations, the researchers stressed, need to be implemented quickly as work towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) has been delayed. “Some goals may not even be achievable now,” they added.

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