Our economic relationship with the ocean is once again evolving in important ways. As a setting for global trade and commerce, and as a significant source of food and energy, the ocean’s contribution is already important. This century, it is likely to become an economic force. The drivers are many and varied, but have their origins in our growing familiarity with the ocean environment; new technologies that make it feasible and economically viable to tap ocean resources; longer-term growth and demographic trends fuelling; the search for food security and for alternative sources of minerals and energy; seaborne trade and rapid coastal urbanisation, among others.
Can the concept of the blue economy be more than aspirational? What do governments, and others, really mean when they refer to it? Is the blue economy at risk from “greenwashing”? What are the challenges of “blueing” the ocean economy? What are the investment opportunities? And what opportunities are there for existing industries facing the transition to more environmentally sustainable practices, or for new and innovative investments, where technologies and business models and innovations are focused on promoting or restoring ocean health?
The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, has embarked on a programme of research which draws on interviews with ocean stakeholders and existing research to raise, and answer, just these questions. In the first of the proposed white papers, the “State of the blue economy”, we seek to take stock of the blue economy concept today and identify key strategies for—and impediments to—advancing the idea of a sustainable ocean economy. Acknowledging the significance of investment to the future of the ocean economy, a second proposed report, “Investing in the blue economy”, will examine how money can be made from a growing ocean economy in a context where environmental considerations and principles of sustainable natural resource management could shape the investment environment.
In this briefing paper, we present our interim thoughts and findings to participants at the World Ocean Summit 2015 as a means of furthering discussion and debate and of soliciting feedback from the many different stakeholders at the event.
Concurrently, The EIU is also launching the Coastal Governance Index, an index that measured the extent of governmental regulation and management across 20 key ocean economies, selected on the basis of the importance of coastlines to their economies and on data availability. This first-of-its-kind assessment of coastal governance identifies best practices and areas for improvement in two fundamental categories (policy and institutional capacity; the business environment for coastal activities) and four “asset” categories (water quality; minerals and energy; land; and living resources).
A research collection "Ocean Prosperity Roadmap: Fisheries and beyond" is also launched at the World Ocean Summit 2015. The collection is a result of work from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, California Environmental Associates (CEA), the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the University of Washington (UW).
Published:June 3rd 2015
- Charles Goddard