Blue Economy and SDGs


In the recent decade, the “Blue Economy (BE)” or “Oceans/Marine Economy” has been widely advocated by an array of interested parties as a concept or a strategy for safeguarding the world’s oceans and water resources. The concept of BE is originated from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The term ‘Blue Economy’ has been used in different ways and similar terms such as “ocean economy” or “marine economy” are used without clear definitions. The United Nations offered general definition of the “Blue Economy” as an ocean economy that aims at “the improvement of human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. More recently, the World Bank defined the “Blue Economy” as “the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” The World Bank’s definition is a comprehensive concept embracing multi-aspects of oceanic sustainability ranging from sustainable fisheries to ecosystem health and preventing pollution. Importantly, the definition itself requires collaboration across borders and sectors through various partnerships and stakeholders. Yet, different stakeholders will favour particular focuses or interpretations of the definition to meet their own purposes. It implies that some potential conflicts or problems may arise due to different stakeholders’ preferences or interests.  The SDGs and related 17 goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators result from a multi-stakeholder agreement between countries, designed to reduce unsustainability and promote sustainable development globally. However, the identification of the scope and boundaries of the BE in line with the UN’s SDGs is vague, even challenging. More importantly, the key stakeholders and their interests and roles in the BE are relatively vague. To set appropriate and achievable goals and targets, the key stakeholders have to be identified so as to enable prosperous societal development and to set tolerable ranges for the biosphere.

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