Need for a Pacific Sustainable Blue Economy Strategy and Roadmap

Large ocean nations like those in the Pacific need to start looking at themselves as Blue Economies. They need to develop roadmaps to maximise returns from the blue economy while ensuring adherence to principles of sustainability. The emerging consensus in the Pacific is that an ocean economic activity needs to be sustainable for it to be termed as a Blue Economy activity. Thus Blue Economy needs to (i) be sustainable; (ii) deliver equity; (iii) create genuine prosperity and wellbeing for all; (iv) improve the natural world; (v) be inclusive and participatory in decision making; (vi) be accountable; (vii) build economic, social and environmental resilience; (viii) deliver sustainable production and judicious use of resources; (ix) invest for the future and (x) support and reinforce cultural and spiritual values.

Re-investment in our ocean

If the ocean were owned by a single company, that company would certainly protect this rich resource and ensure that its resources were not depleted and remained for the continued production and survival of the company for many years to come. The company would ensure that the right investments were made so that the resources remained healthy and kept producing into the future through proper management regimes.

The ocean is part of our commons – we all benefit and therefore have a responsibility in ensuring its continued survival not just as a body of water – but as a living, thriving, complex ecosystem. Reinvesting in this rich resource that has provided for us for centuries is imperative. Managing these resources wisely is also imperative if we expect our oceans to keep providing for our children and grandchildren with the same resources that we are now so fortunate to enjoy.

Moving Forward

We note the progress made in this area by small island countries like Grenada in the Caribbean and the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. The Pacific is already lagging behind other island regions.

The need for a Pacific Blue Economy Strategy, as well as regional and national roadmaps has been raised before.

The Blue Economy strategy should set out the principles that would guide the Pacific’s Blue Economy development whereas the regional roadmap would assist the region in making inroads in the sector through regional targeted support, as well as support the implementation of national blue economy roadmaps. This would recognise the roles of all sectors whether from government, private sector, civil society and international and regional organisations. It should allow all these stakeholders to plan their activities into the future. These roadmaps need to be living documents with regular updates that take advantage of most recent research and technology.

Roadmaps are only effective if there is a governance structure in place that can implement them. For this reason, each roadmap requires a steering committee to develop and update the roadmap as well as oversee its implementation. These steering committees need to be established at the regional level to implement the regional blue economy roadmap, as well as at the national level in those countries that decide to develop national blue economy roadmaps.

Another important tool for a sector that will probably see a lot of developments and innovation would be the establishment of a think tank at the regional level to bring together various stakeholders and expertise, including economists, researchers, planners, environmentalists, marine scientists, tourism operators, fishers, shippers, industrialists, energy experts, ocean foresters, culture experts, educators, communicators, etc. The think tank will be an important resource for the blue economy steering committees and closely linked with a knowledge hub.

The Blue Economy offers great hope to an oceanic region formed of large ocean states with small land mass. As a result, it is important for island countries to think outside the box to find solutions to problems that have affected them for many years and manage the wealth of their oceans in a sustainable manner to meet the needs of their people while also ensuring future generations prosper from the wealth of these same oceans. The Blue Economy provides the Pacific with such a possibility. Even though we have not convinced all decision-makers, we have no time to waste on more talk but need to pass from talk to action pretty soon. The time to act is now, and we’ll be happy to support.

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