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'Blue Economy'

Blue Economy

Towards 'blue economy' In the contemporary world, economic growth and social well-being are the key development agendas from a well-to-do nation's perspective. They are the drivers of nations. The emerging economies pay more heed to these predominantly because of a direct relation to their development. Of course, at the heart of these is the added responsibility of sustainably progressing. Keeping the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals in the fray, and acknowledging environmental concerns which have aggravated due to Climate Change, nations have channelised their innovation towards renewable alternatives to promote a sustainable path in achieving their respective goals. Socio-economic development in a sustainable manner is perhaps the optimal mix the world should thrive for. This mix is what defines the Green economy, which is socio-economic development with respect to environmental well-being. The traditional goal of economic growth (increasing GDP) carried out by nations to target poverty, hunger, et al social setbacks has an irreversible environmental effect with almost half of the world's resources already exploited, that too unsustainably! Hence, the Green economy hosts tremendous potential for growth while safeguarding the environment. Similar to the Green economy model, 'Blue economy' – a relatively new concept – aims for improvement of social well-being while significantly reducing environmental risks to sustainably utilise oceans as a resource. Ocean as a resource does sound rather exploitative. But it is actually the opposite. Blue economy advocates better stewardship of our oceans or 'blue' resources and supports UN SDG #14 which states "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development". Blue economy was coined by Dr Gunter Pauli who introduced this concept in the book – "The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs". The blue economy has immense potential will reduce environmental risks and mitigate ecological challenges enabling us to achieve balanced socio-economic development. It uses smart shipping to lessen the impacts on the environment, harnesses renewable energy – tidal, wind, wave - and is based on sustainable fisheries. It generates employment and provides food which collectively tackles hunger, poverty and unemployment – the three primary concerns of developing nations. It conserves the ocean and related marine life – tackling marine litter and ocean pollution. It further strives to protect the vulnerable coastal areas from the impacts of Climate Change. The untapped potential in the blue economy that will boost growth for India helping it become the third largest economy in the next decade and a half. Vice President stressed on something which, if explored, will yield tremendously for India. By developing technology to harness minerals – Polymetallic nodules and polymetallic massive sulphides which contain nickel, cobalt, iron, and manganese – and generating renewable energy, India can develop the blue economy infrastructure. It will also involve the modernisation of ports and allied facilities envisaged under Sagarmala (Project) where the government has allocated over Rs 3 lakh crore to fund 199 projects to be implemented in the next three years. Our oceans already provide for trade and commerce in the fields of shipping, offshore oil and gas, fishing, undersea cables, and tourism. Besides these areas, there are other emerging industries such as aquaculture, marine biotechnology, ocean renewable energy and sea-bed mining that can generate employment and reinvigorate economic growth.

India will benefit immensely from a concerted effort to adopt the blue economy, particularly with the substantial economic potential that the Indian Ocean holds. With respect to the blue economy, India should focus on three critical and basic intentions: national developmental objectives, connectivity infrastructure, and regional influence. With nine states and two Union territories having coastal areas, India can pioneer a discourse on ocean resources which will serve as an alternative growth path, providing ample supplement to meet its national demands. India can learn and collaborate with Ocean countries that have utilised blue economy to meet their respective national agendas – Australia, Mauritius, China, etc. At the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Blue Economy Ministerial Conference in 2015, India emphasised on Marine information and communication technologies (ICT) as a key emerging sector of its blue economy. India should initiate robust mechanisms for knowledge creation. The existing and new multilateral trading agreements should be redefined, enabling the creation of sustainable infrastructure to match future economic demands. In recent years, international support and cooperation for the development of the blue economy have gained further strategic importance and with IOR at its disposal, India can expedite policymaking and consequential implementation to emerge as a leader in the blue economy. With multilateral trade and research agreement with IORA members, reinforced shipping infrastructure under Sagarmala, the creation of Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ), development of Marine ICTs and advent of emerging marine industries, India reserves the potential to leave a large footprint on the blue economy narrative of the world. All it requires is the will and a focussed approach to sustainably utilise the vast Blue world.

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