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First Global Conference on Blue Economy

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    6th Dec, 2018

Recently Kenya, along with Canada and Japan, hosted the World’s first global conference focused on the World’s ocean economy: the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.



  • Recently Kenya, along with Canada and Japan, hosted the World’s first global conference focused on the World’s ocean economy: the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.
  • The conference was focused on channelizing global water resources in sustainable ways for development.


Why this conference?

  • The world has rallied around the enormous pressures facing our oceans and waters, from plastic pollution to the impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is international recognition that we need to develop our waters in an inclusive and sustainable manner for the benefit of all.
  • The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference builds on the momentum of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris and the UN Ocean Conference 2017 “Call for Action”.
  • The conference focuses upon to build a blue economy that:
  • Harnesses the potential of our oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve the lives of all, particularly people in developing states, women, youth and indigenous peoples.
  • Leverages the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to build prosperity while conserving our waters for future generations.
  • Identify how to harness the potential of the blue economy to create jobs and combat poverty and hunger.
  • Show how economic development and healthy oceans and waters can go hand in hand.
  • Capture commitments and practical actions that can be taken today.
  • Bring together the players needed to transition to a blue economy.


What is Blue Economy?

  • According to the World Bank, Blue Economy refers to sustainable use of ocean resources for growth, jobs and improved living standards, while preserving the ecosystem. It encompasses areas like maritime transport, fisheries, renewable energy, waste management and tourism.
  • Blue Economy is based on the idea of using locally available resources and employing renewable inputs, for example, "ocean-as-a-resource" that addresses the problems of resource scarcity and enables sustainable development.
  • This marine based economic development will reduce environmental risks and mitigate ecological challenges. As a result, the optimized and responsible resource utilization will enable to achieve balanced socio-economic development.


India and Blue Economy

  • India has a strategic location in the Indian Ocean region, and on this basis, it endorses the growth of the Blue Economy in a sustainable, inclusive and people centred manner through the framework of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
  • India’s national vision about the sector is clearly articulated in the term “SAGAR”- Security and Growth for All in the Region.
  • According to the Prime Minister, the Blue Chakra of India’s national flag represents the potential of the Blue Economy and India is committed to realise its full potential.

Sagarmala Programme

  • India is developing its maritime infrastructure as well as its inland waterways and coastal shipping through its ambitious “Sagarmala Programme” which will revolutionize maritime logistics and port led developments in the country.
  • The Sagarmala programme has identified 600 plus projects entailing huge investment of around Rs 8 lakh crore (120 billion dollars) by the year 2020. This will save the country nearly six billion dollars per annum in logistics costs besides creating 10 million new jobs and boosting port capacity by 800 Million Metric Tonne per Annum (MMTPA) to an overall 3500 MMTPA.
  • Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) are being developed under Sagarmala with a proposed investment of 150 Million dollars per location.
  • The CEZs will become a microcosm of the blue economy wherein industries and townships that depend on the sea and contribute to global trade through sea connectivity are envisaged.
  • The programme is also focussing on the development of coastal communities and people through skill gap analysis, skill development centres to train coastal communities in the sustainable use of ocean resources, modern fishing techniques and coastal tourism. An investment of $1.10 Bn is planned across various coastal districts in India for this purpose.
  • In addition to this, several green initiatives are also being taken in the coastal regions like 31 MW of captive solar power generation being planned at various ports, installation of oil spill response facilities and study to identify ways to re-use waste water at ports.
  • The private sector also has an important role for sustainable growth. In this regard, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry led a taskforce in 2016-2017 by establishing a taskforce to develop a business model on India’s engagement in the blue economy sector.

Significance of Blue Economy for India

  • It is necessary for India to tap the enormous potential of the ocean based Blue Economy, which will propel the nation into a higher growth trajectory. The Blue Economy remains a critical aspect of India’s economic development agenda as more than 95% of the country’s trade is being carried on by sea.
  • The development of Blue Economy can serve as a growth catalyst in realizing the vision of India to become a $10 trillion economy by 2032.
  • The Indian Ocean Region is of strategic importance to India’s economic growth as the most of the country’s oil, and gas is imported through the sea. This dependency is expected to rise by 2025 exponentially.
  • Trade: The Indian Ocean Region presents tremendous trade potential for the country. The countries in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) exhibited significant dynamism in the past few years as the trade in the region increased by over four times from US$ 302 billion in 2003 to US$ 1.2 trillion in 2012.
  • Fish production: In the Indian Ocean, fish production increased drastically from 861,000 tons in 1950 to 11.5 million tons in 2010. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report states that while other world oceans are nearing their fisheries limit, in certain areas, the Indian Ocean’s resources have the potential to sustain increased production.
  • Deep sea minerals: Polymetallic nodules and polymetallic massive sulphides are the two mineral resources of commercial interest to developers in the Indian Ocean region. Typically found at four to five km in water depth, polymetallic nodules are golf-to-tennis ball-sized nodules containing nickel, cobalt, iron, and manganese that form over millions of years on the sediment of the seafloor. India had received exclusive rights for the exploration polymetallic nodules in 1987, in the Central Indian Ocean Basin. Since then, it has explored four million square miles and established two mine sites.
  • The Sagarmala project, launched by the Ministry of Shipping, is the strategic initiative for port-led development through the extensive use of IT enabled services for modernisation of ports. It tackles the issue of underutilized ports by focussing on port modernization, efficient evacuation, and coastal economic development.
  • Ship-building industry: Under the Make in India program of the Government, shipbuilding industry can benefit from a major thrust. This industry has a high multiplier effect on investment and can accelerate industrial growth along with its large number of associated industries.

Way Forward for India

  • In this era of advanced technology, oceans will become new centres of economic activity. Oceans already account for significant trade and commerce in the fields of shipping, offshore oil and gas, fishing, undersea cables, and tourism.
  • The Indian Ocean region needs a sustainable and inclusive framework for international partnerships. Countries in the region need to not only coordinate and manage the growing security challenges in the region but also realize the substantial economic potential the Indian Ocean area presents. India has significantly upped its development efforts in Seychelles, Mauritius, Africa, and Sri Lanka. Such an approach earmarks a shift from the traditional focus on naval operations and anti-piracy efforts to that of environmental protection, national security, infrastructure creation, industrial capacity building and marine development.
  • India’s commitment to strengthen its cooperation with the regional partners and build a sustainable ocean economy aligns well with its domestic mega-modernisation projects that will enable the nation to harness the full potential of the Ocean based Blue Economy.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives prominence to the Blue Economy’s contribution towards the achievement of sustainable development. The ‘2030 Agenda’ envisions a present and a future that is economically sustainable, socially inclusive and environmentally resilient.

However, realizing these sustainable goals is only possible if all nations work together as a global community.

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

Blue economy is crucial for India’s economic development. What do you understand by Blue Economy? Discuss its significance.


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