After the pandemic, the centrality of the Blue Economy in recovery
One of the major challenges following the pandemic is the loss of livelihoods and jobs. The road to recovery and growth goes through the ocean.
The Blue Economy represents enormous potential for sustainable economic activity and job creation after the crisis. India has a unique maritime position, with a 7,517-km long coastline and an Exclusive Economic Zone of over two million sq-km. The resources in these areas can spur India’s economic recovery in a manner that is also beneficial to our climate and environment.
New research commissioned by the high-level panel for a sustainable ocean economy, co-chaired by the Norwegian Prime Minister (PM), shows that every dollar invested in key ocean activities — such as increasing sustainable seafood production, decarbonising international shipping, scaling up offshore wind power and conserving and restoring mangroves — yields five times i.e. $5 in return, often more.
The panel’s report, A Sustainable and Equitable Blue Recovery to the COVID-19 Crisis, highlights five blue stimulus actions that can spur recovery and build a sustainable ocean economy in India and globally. These include investments in coastal and marine ecosystem protection; sewage and wastewater infrastructure for coastal communities; and sustainable marine aquaculture. They also include incentives for zero-emission marine transport and sustainable ocean-based renewable energy.
On World Ocean Day, we remind ourselves why the ocean represents a major investment opportunity. It is for good reason that the Government of India (GOI)’s Vision of New India by 2030 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the 10 core dimensions of growth. The ministry of earth sciences has initiated action to take forward the draft policy framework for India’s Blue Economy prepared by the Economic Advisory Council to the PM. Niti Aayog has set up a high-level panel for better coordination and integration of the GOI’s initiatives in the Blue Economy.
India and Norway are collaborating on realising many of these opportunities. The India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development will meet for the fourth time this week to further this collaboration. In the India-Norway Integrated Ocean Management Initiative, researchers and officials are cooperating on improving the governance of ocean resources through marine spatial planning. In the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative, we are piloting solutions for better waste management and recycling of plastic products.
Indian and Norwegian businesses in the maritime, marine and energy sectors are partnering and creating jobs while investing in green technologies. For example, Norwegian companies Kongsberg Maritime and Wilhelmsen have contracted Cochin Shipyard to build two zero-emission autonomous ferries. The vessels will replace two million km of truck transport, saving 5,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The contract is an excellent example of the crucial role of the private sector. Norway and India are working together on sustainable ship recycling — key for a green shift in the maritime sector, and on green ports, where the Port of Oslo and JNPT in Maharashtra are starting a collaboration. In May, Norwegian university NTNU and DG Shipping agreed to cooperate on establishing a maritime knowledge cluster.
The ocean also has a role to play in strengthening resilience to economic and environmental disruptions. Investing in shipping decarbonisation, sustainable seafood production and ocean-based renewable energy provides for better health outcomes, richer biodiversity, more secure jobs and a safer planet for generations to come.
During the pandemic, India and Norway have supported each other as well as the global community with vaccines and crisis response financing. As the second wave recedes, we will work together for a recovery based on sustainable growth, with the Blue Economy at its centre.
Hans Jacob Frydenlund is the Norwegian ambassador to India. Ratan P Watal is member-secretary, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister
The views expressed are personal