The ‘blue economy’ can help transform our use of the oceans

The oceans are crucial to the development of human societies and always have been. Throughout history, human development has progressed at the same pace as human exploration and discovery of the oceans and their riches.

However, the emerging concept of the blue economy first appeared at a forum held in St. Lawrence, Canada, in 1999. A decade later, Belgian economist Gunter Pauli systematically explained the concept of the blue economy in his 2010 book The Blue Economy: 10 years – 100 innovations – 100 million jobs .

When the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) in 2012 promoted the blue economy, the development of “blue growth” finally began to become a goal for many nations that recognized that the blue economy is necessary and inevitable and the engine of social and economic development.

From the point of view of the development process, the blue economy is an advanced stage of marine economic development, which arises when the development of the marine economy and culture reaches a certain stage. Therefore, the many benefits enshrined in the blue economy are of great importance for the future sustainable development of human societies.

The blue economy is an engine driving high quality economic growth

It includes not only traditional marine economic industries such as maritime trade, maritime transport, port infrastructure and fisheries, but also the sustainable use of biological and non-biological resources in the seas, including ecotourism, offshore aquaculture, biotechnology, marine energy, and mining from the bottom of the sea.

Advances in technologies such as marine resource development and marine engineering equipment manufacturing will serve to promote the transformation of traditional marine industries such as marine oil and gas development and fisheries, leading to inclusive economic growth. At the same time, the integrated development of emerging industries such as smart marine agriculture and marine health such as biomedicine aim to drive high-quality growth in marine economies.

The concept also emphasizes the optimal allocation of land and marine resources. As a union of terrestrial and maritime connectivity, ports with strategic values ​​will have a preponderant role in internal and external connectivity in the development of the blue economy. In addition, the blue economy attaches importance to supporting and extending the naval industry chain along sustainable lines.

There are also social benefits to the blue economy as it helps to maintain social stability. Oriented by the concept of sustainable development, the blue economy is of significant economic importance in promoting international trade, global factor flows and high-quality economic development.

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Likewise, with the development of emerging industries, more jobs will be created, helping to reduce unemployment, eliminate poverty, improve social inclusion and improve livelihoods. It is important to highlight that the blue economy favors circular development, which favors the development of innovation projects with low investment, high returns and good employment opportunities.

Marine ecosystems will also benefit

Blue economy development focuses on biology rather than humans, emphasizes resource conservation, and advocates sustainable use of marine resources. In the process of responsible use of marine resources, the emerging industries of the blue economy will play a key role in reducing damage to the marine environment through the efficient and rational use of marine resources.

The objective will be to prevent the degradation and improvement of marine ecosystems and improve the defense capacity of the ocean and its inhabitants against natural disasters. In line with this goal, the blue economy will become an important starting point for achieving the promised greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Furthermore, marine technological innovation and policy cooperation will contribute to the protection of marine ecosystems.

The oceans have long been the carriers of human civilization, and blue economy cooperation and development will be an important starting point for promoting global ocean governance and cooperation.

Promoting global and regional blue economic cooperation under bilateral and multilateral mechanisms will not only help countries to strengthen maritime, economic, diplomatic and politically diversified cooperation, while optimizing environmental resources; It will also help the international community formulate rules of cooperation, establish a system of cooperation, build a cooperative structure, build mutual political trust, and promote the improvement of global ocean governance systems.

Blue economy cooperation at the global and regional levels will drive the development of a common concept of marine civilization and the protection of marine cultural heritage. The blue economy concept emphasizes win-win cooperation and mutual benefits for all nations.

Importantly, the blue economy will help shape a common marine culture, promoting the construction of an ecological marine civilization based on the motto “Maritime Community with a Shared Future”.

written to Sustainability Times by Xu Xiaodong, deputy director of the Maritime Economics Research Center at the National Institute of South China Sea Studies, and Qiao Zhi, who works at Lingnan Normal University in China.

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