Blue Opportunities for Green Development of Pacific Island Countries
16th Feb, 2022
Lack of economic opportunities due to the impact of COVID-19 have forced countries all over the world including the small island countries of Pacific to explore new ways in which growth can be brought back on track.
- One of this is to explore the Blue Opportunities that will pave the way for sustainable development of these countries
- The small island countries of Pacific have been facing economic hindrances due to their size and location.
- Their size and location inhibited the growth of industries in this region.
- The occurrence of COVID-19 further complicated the matter by hurting the most prosperous industry in these island nations i.e. tourism.
- A rethinking therefore is required to stimulate economic growth and at the same time conserve the environment.
What are Blue Opportunities?
- Blue Opportunities are considered to be the way forward for sustainable development of the Pacific Island counties.
- These opportunities tend to adhere to adopting those practices that help in preservation of ocean ecosystem and build “Blue Economy”.
Blue Economy is regarded as the decoupling of socio-economic activities and development from environmental degradation and optimizing the benefits which may be derived from marine resources.
The attitude of achieving long-term prosperity by a country or a region befitting the wellbeing of all citizens and the mankind preserving the environment, especially the sea is the basis of the Blue Economy.
Sustainable Development- Sustainable development is the overarching paradigm of the United Nations. The concept of sustainable development was described by the 1987 Bruntland Commission Report as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
What it simply means is economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources.
What are the environmental challenges faced by the Pacific island countries?
- Rising sea level
- Ocean acidification
- Salt water intrusion
What economic issues are faced by Pacific island countries due to above environmental challenges?
- Reduction in residential, industrial and agricultural land.
- Adverse impact on the health of people residing on Pacific island countries due to environmental pollution.
- Harmful impact on ocean health and overexploitation leading to deteriorate condition of fishing industry.
How Blue Opportunities can be adopted by Pacific Ocean countries?
- The Pacific Island countries today need to work towards practical, achievable, and concrete measures for achieving economic growth whilst taking into account the environmental and social implications of this development.
- Coastal conservation now is being done by the indigenous communities on this islands through constructing sea walls and dykes.
- This will not only provide employment to people involved in the construction activity but also safeguard the land resource of these countries for various economic activities.
- Conservation of coastal areas is also been taken up by planting mangroves on the shores which would not only help the community against storm surges but will also help in carbon sequestration and promote bio-diversity.
- Designating marine protected areas or taboo areas where fishing activities are not permitted have been found to be effective in getting the ecosystem to bounce back and flourish. This will lead to ample opportunities in near and far future for the fishing industry.
- Crops that are drought and salinity resistant need to be engineered thus ensuring food security and viability of agriculture as economic activity in the region.
- Financing and engineering of resilient infrastructure is required, which can withstand the wrath of climate change.
- Insurance industry in these countries can grow creating an opportunity in Climate insurance for infrastructure, agriculture, and other investments. Adopting this step would help the countries to re-bounce if disaster ever strikes.
- Climate loss and damage compensation has been another tool that could potentially assist the Pacific island countries in achieving their developmental goals.
- Under this mechanism, the affected countries can claim compensation from the high emitting nations. Compensation so received will help in financing the growth of Pacific islands countries.
- Key focus of Pacific island countries should also be on decarbonising the maritime shipping sector by using green energy powered vehicles for transportation. This strategy will also insulate these countries from volatile prices of fossil fuels.
What role can be played by other countries for protection of global environment and hence the Pacific Island countries?
- It is important to remember that the Pacific Island countries are very small and thus do not in a big way contribute to deterioration of the global environment.
- The onus therefore falls on major economies and emitter of the world.
- The major contribution from these countries can come in the form of them adhering to the Nationally Determined Contributions accepted under the Paris Peace Agreement.
Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) is a non-binding national plan highlighting climate change mitigation, including climate related targets for Greenhouse Gas emission reductions, policies and measures governments aim to implement in response to climate change and as a contribution to achieve the global targets set out in the Paris Agreement.
- It also important to note that the advanced economies can help the pacific islands countries by providing funding and technology for mitigating the environmental damages.