April 17, 2023
The ocean is a vital resource for life on Earth, providing food, energy, and other essential goods and services and employment opportunities, nearly 350 million jobs worldwide are linked to fisheries (The Commonwealth). But as the demand for these resources grows, they must be used responsibly and sustainably. That's where the concept of the blue economy comes in.
What is the Blue Economy?
A blue economy is a holistic approach that considers economic growth and environmental protection equally to inform and guide ocean management. It emphasizes the responsible use of marine resources, such as renewable energy sources and sustainable fisheries, and recognizes the importance of preserving marine ecosystems for future generations.The blue economy is gaining more and more importance and currently already employs 5 million people, generating around €650 billion in turnover (EC Europa, 2021). In fact, the ocean is the 7th largest economy GDP-wise with valued at around US$1.5 trillion per year (BNP Parisbas).
In addition to the concept of the blue economy, there is also the idea of the sustainable blue economy, which builds on the principles of the blue economy by emphasizing the need for social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. It emphasizes the need to use the ocean's resources responsibly and sustainably and recognizes the importance of marine ecosystems in providing essential goods and services. Taking into account that 80% of global trade by volume is carried by sea and 50% of fish for human consumption is provided by aquaculture, the need for a sustainable activity is inherent to its future use (The Commonwealth).
The sustainable blue economy recognizes the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental factors and aims to create a balance between them. It seeks to promote sustainable economic growth, social equity, and the preservation of marine ecosystems, essential for achieving the long-term well-being of coastal communities and the planet. This includes reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, managing waste and chemical runoff, protecting biodiversity and vulnerable species, and promoting the responsible use of ocean resources.
Why is the the Blue Economy so important?
The ocean is a critical source of food and energy, but it's also vulnerable to human activities that cause pollution, overfishing, and climate change. These actions can have devastating impacts on the marine environment and the global economy.
The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that two-thirds of the ocean’s value relies on healthy conditions and that this value is deteriorating rapidly because of climate change and the way industries are exploiting the ocean’s products (BNP Paribas). The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that two-thirds of the ocean’s value relies on healthy conditions and that this value is deteriorating rapidly because of climate change and the way industries are exploiting the ocean’s products (BNP Paribas).
Actually, studies have shown that human activities are responsible for the death of more than one billion marine animals each year (UNESCO,2016). In addition, ocean acidification is causing coral reefs to die off at an alarming rate, and plastic pollution is significantly negatively affecting marine life. The effects of human activities on the marine environment can have a crucial impact on the global economy. For example, the destruction of coral reefs can lead to a decrease in fish populations, reducing the availability of seafood and lowering the income of local anglers. Additionally, climate change is causing sea levels to rise, which can lead to increased flooding and damage to coastal infrastructure.
The Role of Businesses in the Blue Economy
Businesses and organizations are essential in protecting the marine environment and promoting a sustainable blue economy. As the demand for ocean-based resources increases, companies must adopt sustainable practices to ensure the marine environment is not harmed. As a result, companies can implement sustainable sourcing policies or reduce their carbon footprint.
Corporate responsibility is not just about protecting the environment but also about creating economic opportunities for communities. Companies can use the sustainable blue economy to create jobs, support local businesses, and promote education and training initiatives. There is a wide range of actions and solutions that can be implemented. Every small change can make a difference!
Success Stories in the Blue Economy
Many companies are leading the way in the blue economy. For example, ITW Hi-Cone, a packaging company, has substituted plastic and paperboard in their six-pack rings with a material made from post-consumer waste. MAPA Spontex Iberica, a cleaning supplies manufacturer, has several products made solely from sustainable plant-based materials. And Sea2See, Adidas, Parley, Bead the Change, and Bureo use ocean microplastics to create products such as sunglasses, shoes, and bags.
Tips for Implementing a Blue Economy Strategy
Businesses and organizations that want to impact the ocean positively must begin by evaluating their current practices and identifying areas for improvement. To achieve zero waste, they must invest in renewable energy sources, reduce their carbon footprint, and minimize their waste. Additionally, participating in conservation campaigns and social projects can promote knowledge of the population and help improve the state of our oceans. These objectives can be achieved by establishing new alliances with entities focused on developing their activity sustainably and in the local environment to extend the concept to the company's entire value chain.
A sustainable blue economy is an approach to ocean management that seeks to balance economic growth with environmental protection. It emphasizes the need to use the ocean's resources responsibly and sustainably and recognizes the importance of marine ecosystems in providing essential goods and services. Businesses and organizations are important in protecting the marine environment and promoting the sustainable blue economy. By implementing sustainable practices, businesses can positively impact the marine environment and create economic opportunities for local communities. If you want to know more about how your company can reduce its impact on the ocean, please visit our website and contact us for more information.
This is the first of the new Oceanogami Ocean Corporate Series. A series that aims to give further insight into the elements and topics needed to understand the intersectionalism of businesses and organizations and environmental sustainability and the role they can play in making a positive impact in marine conservation. Stay tuned for more!
OECD (2016): The Ocean Economy in 2030: https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264251724-en
UNEP: Corporate Responsibility Reporting: https://www.unep.org/explore-topics/resource-efficiency/what-we-do/responsible-industry/corporate-sustainability
Global Ocean Commission: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2013/02/the-global-ocean-commission
Sustainable Fisheries Foundation: https://sustainablefisheriesfoundation.org/
Sustainable Blue Economy Conference: https://sdg.iisd.org/events/sustainable-blue-economy-conference/
The Commonwealth – Action Group on Sustainable Blue Economy: https://thecommonwealth.org/bluecharter/sustainable-blue-economy
Sustainable Blue Economy – Questions and Answers (2021): https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/hr/qanda_21_2346
BNP Paribas – The blue economy in numbers: https://www.bnpparibas-am.com/en/blog/the-blue-economy-in-numbers-en/