Oceans hold abundant opportunities for the economy. The blue economy can improve countries’ incomes and global trade with proper management and regulations. Unfortunately, the oceans are threatened by unsustainable practices from various sectors. A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) calls for a “Blue Deal” in global trade, investment, and innovation for sustainable ocean use.
The ocean is vital for food security, biodiversity habitats, carbon sink, and the economy. The report titled “Trade and Environment Review 2023: Building a sustainable and resilient ocean economy beyond 2030” analyzes the potentials, challenges, and recommendations to improve the global ocean economy and sustainable ocean use.
UNCTAD defines ocean economy as “a vehicle toward a more sustainable and inclusive economic path on the marine and coastal environment.” The report states that the estimated value of the ocean economy ranges between $3 trillion to $6 trillion annually. At least 150 million jobs in various sectors depend on the ocean economy, such as fishing, aquaculture, and tourism. In 2020, the export value of ocean-based goods and services represented approximately 6% of global trade.
Unfortunately, the ocean has suffered from various unsustainable practices in multiple sectors. Unregulated fishing, garbage dumping, and rising temperature are among the threats faced by the ocean. As a result, the ocean has become less livable for biodiversity and harder to predict.
The Blue Deal
The report mainly builds on the findings and conclusion of the 4th UN Oceans Forum. It calls for a “Blue Deal” on global trade, investment, and innovation to bridge the gap in ocean finance. One of the ways is through increasing the amount of official development assistance (ODA) to leverage public and private finance necessary to sustain ocean health and promote the ocean economy.
Harnessing the economic potential of the oceans should not sacrifice other sectors. In other words, accelerating sustainable ocean use should address a wide range of aspects from various sectors.
The seaweed sector becomes one of the report’s highlights, citing its role in food security, ocean ecosystems, carbon sequestration, and the economy. Maximizing this sector’s potential needs proper monitoring and management. Futhermore, the report also discusses non-tariff measures, human rights abuses, and plastic pollution as the issues to be addressed in accelerating recovery and resilience post-COVID-19.
Sustainable ocean use
Ultimately, the pathways toward sustainable ocean use require structural transformations across all sectors. Strengthening international, regional, and national cooperation is also crucial in creating meaningful changes for the economy, the people, and the environment. The report concludes with recommendations and findings from the Forum, some of which are:
- Mobilize actions for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture for sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.
- Prevent, reduce, and eliminate marine plastic litter by contributing to comprehensive life cycle approaches, encouraging resource efficiency and recycling, and environmentally sound waste management.
- Explore, develop, and promote innovative financing solutions to drive the transformation to sustainable ocean-based economies and the scaling up of nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches.
Read the full report here.
Editor: Nazalea Kusuma
Madina is the Assistant Manager for Program at Green Network Asia. She is an English major graduate from Universitas Indonesia with two
years of demonstrated experience in editorial and creative writing,
researching, editing, and creating content.