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Time to ensure long-term sustainable use of our marine resources

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The terms “Blue Economy” or “Blue Growth” are increasingly being used in day-to-day parlance, as many governments, organizations and communities in both developed and developing countries are being aware of the need for a more coherent, integrated, fair , and science-based approach to managing the economic development of oceans.

The world’s oceans, seas, and coastal areas have always remained vital to the livelihoods and food security of billions of people around the world, and to the economic prosperity of many countries. They are the largest ecosystems on the planet and a precious part of our natural heritage. The stark contrast to earlier days, when the resources from these oceans was being milked merely for economic gains, is that an increasingly large number of governments, organizations and communities in both developed and developing countries are becoming aware of the need for a more coherent, integrated, fair and science based approach to managing the economic development of the oceans so as to ensure that the economic development of the oceans contributes to true prosperity and resilience for a long time to come.

Humanity is now realizing that if it wishes to bequeath a world with sound ecology to the world, it will have to create a sustainable blue economy that provides social and economic benefits for current and future generations, by contributing to food security, poverty eradication, livelihoods, income, employment, health, safety, equity, and political stability for present and future generations.

The need of the hour is to frame policies based on clean technologies, renewable energy, and circular material flows to secure economic and social stability over time, while keeping within the limits of one planet. This can be achieved by decisions based on scientifically sound information to avoid harmful effects that undermine long-term sustainability through active and effective stakeholder engagement and participation, and with special recognition of the needs of developing countries.

Despite increasing adoption of the Blue Economy as a concept and as a goal of policy-making and investment, no clear roadmap exists which ensures that the economic development of the ocean contributes to true prosperity, today and in the long future. With a long coastline on east and west surrounded by oceans that spread far away to other continents, India too has to evolve a national perspective so as to develop itself as a regional hub of blue economy business opportunities in Asia Pacific or Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In this regard, Maharashtra Economic Development Council (MEDC) is organizing an event in Goa wherein 100+ national and global leaders from government, industry, multilateral organizations, the scientific community and civil society will be participating to provide to the visitors a comprehensive overview of the entire blue economy market and industry and to build India as a hub of activities in the Asia Pacific and IOR.

This may be one small step in the right direction. What is needed, however, is more concentrated effort on the part of the related ministries in the Government to provide active leadership, to both the public and private sector, so as to steer the Blue Economy in a sustainable direction.

Clear, measurable, and internally consistent goals and targets need to be framed; Government, economic sectors, individual businesses and other actors need to set relevant and measurable goals; and, the most effective and efficient ways to meet the needs of present and future generations are found without undermining the capacity of nature to support human economic activities and wellbeing.

A level economic and legislative playing field needs to be created so as to provide adequate incentives and rules. Economic instruments such as taxes, subsidies and fees need to be created aimed at internalizing environmental and social benefits, costs and risks to the society. International and national laws and agreements, including private agreements, need to be framed, implemented, enforced, and continuously improved in ways that support sustainable and safe planning, management and effective governance of marine space and resources.

These are just the few of the steps that need to be taken to build forward-looking policies and framework that ensure long-term sustainable use of our marine resources. Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) is already working with certain Governmental departments through its research-based inputs and intends to work more proactively in this regard in the near future.

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