Blue is the New Green: What is the Blue Economy?
Growing up, you probably learned that a way to dispose of waste was by throwing it into the sea. When thrown into the sea, the rubbish would decompose with no repercussions, no pollution, and no health risks.
Do you know this is false?
From polluting water bodies to killing fish, and underwater plants, and damaging marine habitats, this has left a devastating impact on not just our human health but that of the ocean.
It is so important for us to consciously maintain environmentally friendly practices in order to protect the ocean. This is the foundation of the blue economy.
The blue in the blue economy represents the sea. The term 'blue economy' advocates for a healthy environment, and healthy oceans which provide jobs and food, sustain economic growth, regulate the climate, and support the well-being of coastal communities. It is used to refer to the protection and sustenance of the ocean, aquatic organisms, and the marine environment for a healthy economy for all. The heart of this is to realize social and economic development as well as a dynamic balance of resources and environment.
The World Bank defines the blue economy as the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem." According to Conservation International, the blue economy includes "economic benefits that may not be marketed, such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values, and biodiversity".
It is clear that the term 'Blue Economy' takes a sustainable development approach to coastal resources.
The United Nations, over the years, has taken a stance that the blue economy will help in not just promoting but also achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 14, 'Life Below Water'.
For all of human history, the oceans have been a source of sustenance, livelihood, and unmatched wonders. However, as humankind's marine aspirations soar, we find ourselves at a crossroads: Will we scour the oceans for resources, or will we steer towards a sustainable future, protecting this priceless resource for future generations?
One may think that the blue economy is for only the big sectors to take responsibility, but this is untrue. Every individual, company, industry, and sector needs to take intentional efforts in sustaining the blue economy without which we would not have a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.
The question then is, how do I, as an individual, come into play? What can I do to achieve this blue economy?
As individuals, we have the largest role in maintaining a blue economy. By consciously making efforts to reduce pollution to safeguard marine life and human health, we can make an impact.
We can advocate for the right legislation and policies to be made, such as regulations on marine protected areas or restrictions on unsustainable fishing practices. Moreso, countries can effectively collaborate amongst themselves to develop policies, share knowledge and implement sustainable practices of the blue economy.
There is a need for us to have sustainable fishing practices as well, to ensure long-term food security. There should also be adopted effective safety measures, such as navigation protocols, emergency response systems, training for seafarers, and general maritime safety protocols. Finally, individuals can support organizations that are working to protect and restore ocean health through research, education, and advocacy.
Industries and other sectors of the economy can aid in economic growth, job creation, and overall development by practicing responsible and sustainable use of ocean resources. Marine tourism industries can promote eco-friendly practices and support marine protected areas to preserve marine habitats and wildlife.
Currently, there is also the development of renewable energy industries whose focus on wave, tidal, and offshore wind energy significantly contributes to a sustainable blue economy, as it reduces carbon emissions and fosters environmental sustainability.
Additionally, the shipping industry's adoption of greener technologies and practices helps reduce carbon emissions and minimizes marine pollution, thereby preserving the marine environment. Industries involved in marine biotechnology research and development explore potential solutions for environmental challenges, such as bioremediation and eco-friendly products, which support the overall sustainability of the blue economy.
Moreover, Governments, NGOs, and local communities, industries, and sectors can collaborate to implement sustainable practices as well as to find innovative solutions to effectively govern the use of ocean resources thereby maintaining a balance between economic activities and environmental protection.
In conclusion, embracing sustainable practices, conserving marine environments, promoting renewable energy, and fostering innovation are vital in preserving the valuable resources of the ocean for future generations.
Individuals should intentionally strive to protect and conserve the oceans and other marine bodies.
Educate yourself and others about marine conservation and the importance of a sustainable blue economy. Share your knowledge with friends, family, and social networks to raise awareness and inspire collective actions.
Get involved in Local Conservation organizations by volunteering. Here's a great organization in Nigeria - The Marine and Coastal Conservation Society of Nigeria
Rather than make use of single-use plastics, opt for reusable alternatives, such as water bottles, bags, and containers, to prevent plastic waste, protect the ocean and stop the harm to marine life.
Get involved in advocacy efforts to support policies that protect the ocean!
WRITTEN BY Modupe O. Oreye.
Modupe O. Oreye is a bright and young law undergraduate presently pursuing her degree at the University of Benin, Nigeria. She is a change strategist and growth personnel with a committed passion for personal and career development, and student leadership in social and environmental spheres. Modupe is passionate about advocating for quality education, and human rights and taking social actions to advance these causes. She is a writer, a LinkedIn optimization person, and a corporate compere as she is skilled in moderating social and online events.
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EDITED BY Chizulu Uwolloh.
'Zulu is a writer, self-proclaimed, bibliophile, and lawyer passionate about social impact and showing people how they can create change in their communities.
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