What is the sustainable ocean economy?
The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and provides both renewable and non-renewable resources that sustain hundreds of millions of livelihoods in coastal areas and on islands, and in inland areas.
The ocean economy, or blue economy – human use of the ocean and its resources – is rapidly expanding. We are on the threshold of a new wave of industrialization and exploitation of the ocean. It holds the promise of more innovation, growth and jobs. As the ocean economy expands, the world must ensure that maritime industries and the use of ocean space, resources and ecosystems are ecologically sustainable; economic activities must be in balance with the long-term carrying capacity of the ocean ecosystems. They also need to be sensitive to regional differences and conditions and demands on resources, and more fairly share their benefits with the societies that conserve them.
Investing $1 in key ocean actions can yield at least $5 in global benefits, often more, over the next 30 years. Specifically, investing $2 trillion to $3.7 trillion globally across four key areas – conserving and restoring mangrove habitats, scaling up offshore wind production, decarbonizing international shipping, and increasing the production of sustainably sourced ocean-based proteins – by 2050, would generate $8.2 trillion to $22.8 trillion in net benefits, a rate of return on investment of 450-615%. The responsibility of the G20 countries in the global community goes beyond their share of coastlines and marine areas. The world is looking to these countries to provide leadership in the effective protection of the ocean, maintaining the integrity of, and restoring, its ecosystems, and thus ensuring the sustainable use of ocean resources.
As political leaders and policymakers, the private sector, financial institutions and local communities seek to reset and build positive growth, enhancing resilience, there is an opportunity to partner on the rapid transition to a sustainable ocean economy as part of a blue recovery that reflects these investments and benefits. Now, more than ever, we need a healthy ocean to provide key ecosystem services and benefits that are crucial for a sustainable future.