Blue Economy

SAI20 Summit under Indian Presidency of G20

Concept Note on Blue Economy



Gunter Pauli economist, entrepreneur and author created the Blue Economy model.The Blue Economy as defined by him is the regeneration of ecosystems in a logic of abundance and autonomy. Drawing inspiration from nature in order to take what is necessary and to function in symbiosis with it.His concept of the Blue Economy business model advocates society to shift from scarcity to abundance ‘with what we have’, by tackling issues that cause environmental and related problems in new ways.

The UN first introduced “blue economy” at a conference in 2012 and underlined sustainable management, based on the argument that marine ecosystems are more productive when they are healthy. There is, however, no consensus on the exact definition and the field of application depends on organization that uses it.

40% of the world’s population live near coastal areas, more than 3 billion people utilize the oceans for their livelihood, and 80% of world trade is achieved using the seas. The oceans, seas and coastal areas contribute to food security and poverty eradication. And yet, the oceans are under severe threat by human activities, where economic profit are at the expense of environmental degradation. Acidification, pollution, ocean warming, eutrophication and fishery collapse are just some of the examples of the consequences on the marine ecosystems. These threats are detrimental to the planet and their long-term repercussions demand urgent action to protect the oceans and the people who depend on them.

Blue Economy and Sustainable Development Goal 14: sustainable use of the oceans

Blue economy is intrinsically linked to the sustainable development goals. Goal 14, labelled Life Below Water, concerns conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, and demands international cooperation for the oceans to get back in balance. Reaching Goal 14 requires universal action to protect the planet and calls for international cooperation through institutional and legal frameworks. Progress has been made, but to achieve the targets by 2030 remain a long way off, highlighting the need for action today.

United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Stepping up the effort, on 5th December 2017, the United Nations proclaimed a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, to be held from 2021 to 2030. The idea of an ocean decade was directly linked to the 2030 Agenda adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The Decade can mobilize the ocean community behind the ideas of sustainable development and serve to focus research and technological development in oceanography on important issues of protection and sustainable use of the ocean. This will lead to a decisive contribution by the ocean community to the implementation of not only the Sustainable Development Goal 14, but many others as well. Ocean observations, which provides real-time data to detectand report critical changes in oceanic conditions that may affect marine ecosystems and resources, are at the heart of this initiative which will directly contribute to the Blue Economy.

Blue Economy: An Indian perspective

India realized the vast potential of oceans very early as India was among the first in the world to create a Department of Ocean Development way back in 1981, now known as the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).

India has a 7517 km long coastline that is home to nine coastal states and 1382 islands. The coastal economy sustains over 4 million fishermen and other coastal communities. With these vast maritime interests, the Blue Economy in India has a vital relationship with the nation’s economic growth. In recent years, there have been a series of initiatives for sustainable development in the maritime domain. These initiatives are catalysts to strengthen the growth of India’s maritime interests and our Blue Economy.

The Government of India, in 2019, unveiled its Vision for India 2030, listing thereby ten most important dimensions to create a modernIndia driven by technology, high growth, equitable and transparent society which is free of poverty and illiteracy. Development of Indian Blue Economy is one of the dimensions of Vision for India 2030.The Blue Economy is mentioned as the sixth dimension of this vision stressing the need for a coherent policy integrating different sectors so as to improve the lives of the coastal communities and accelerate development and employment.

The draft policy document on India’s Blue Economy focuses on seven thematic areas such as national accounting framework for the blue economy and ocean governance; coastal marine spatial planning and tourism; marine fisheries, aquaculture, and fish processing; manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, technology, services, and skill development; logistics, infrastructure and shipping including transshipment; coastal and deep-sea mining and offshore energy; security, strategic dimensions, and international engagement.

B. Objectives

The objectives of the Engagement Group of SAI20 on Blue Economy are to assess:

  1. benefits accrued and tapped of blue economy;
  2. conservation of marine economy

The Supreme Audit Institutions have an important role to play in the global efforts of the United Nations targets for SDG-14, of reversing the declining health of the oceans and developing strategies and devising ways to enhance contribution of blue economy in the national economy. In this pursuit, SAIs can scale up their audits, especially, SAIs of those nations who have close proximity to the oceans and seas, develop study papers on the condition of the blue economy and make recommendations on how the governments could direct their efforts and policies for the development of the blue economy of their nations. SAIs can also consider developing international auditing guidelines for conducting marine audits, bringing out joint research papers on marine health together with sharing practical knowledge and expertise on audit of blue economy through surveys, study papers, guidelines, toolkits, conduct of joint audits, etc. These efforts of SAIs would definitely be helpful to the governments in addressing the challenges of blue economy and also promoting the blue economy globally.

Expected outcomes and deliverables:
  • Prioritize audit of sustainable development in aquaculture, coastal and maritime tourism, blue biotechnology and extraction of sea bed mineral resources,
  • Promote use of marine data and spatial planning in audit of blue economy,
  • Promote partnership among SAI’s of SAI20 member countries for capacity building in the field audit of blue economy
Questions for discussion:
  1. How wouldSAIscreate partnerships to promote capacity building in auditing blue economy?
  2. How do we recommend improvement in spatial planning, and surveillance using data on marine resources?

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