Blue Economy: Environmental Sustainability of the Oceans

Blue Economy: Environmental Sustainability of the Oceans
  • PublishedNovember 23, 2022
Blue economy: offshore wind

As the global population swells to 8 billion people and beyond, finding natural resources to feed and house these people is increasingly challenging. While developed countries in North America and Europe cope with the switch to electric vehicles, people in developing countries still die from starvation and disease. Given the widening income gaps in modern countries like the United States, the current trajectory for global food security is not sustainable!

The citizens of earth need a new way of looking at the planet as a “renewable resource” that cares for all people. Doing this requires the entire planet and not just surface land. The global effort to create a sustainable earth needs the Blue Economy, an economic model considering the world’s oceans as natural renewable resources.

What is The Blue Economy?

According to the United States Geological Service, 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. A staggering 96.4 % of the world’s water is in the oceans. Though the oceans are already taxed by pollution and overfishing, there is so much more for humans in the oceans than expected. Consequently, the world’s oceans represent the last frontier for exploration and for creating a sustainable economy. The United Nations (UN) introduced the blue economy ideology in 2012 at a world conference. In the wake of ocean exploitation, the UN started the blue economy to look at the oceans as sustainable resources. UN member states developed policies about global sustainability and spelled out 17 Developmental Goals. The 14th goal is Life Below the Water.

The World Bank and the Blue Economy

As the UN developed policies for climate change and the loss of natural resources, the World Bank developed monetary policies for the blue economy, even as many countries fell into financial crisis. The WB’s policies address social inequality and income disparity through the ProBlue program. This multilevel trust helps countries move towards the Blue Economy. ProBlue takes the established use of oceans for moving goods and fishing for food as starting points. Then introduces programs to the Blue Economy that support it. ProBlue is for the blue economy, what recycling is for the green economy but on a massive scale. An astounding 80% of consumer goods and raw resources travel on top of the oceans. Meanwhile, around 90% of the oceans’ estimated 1 million species haven’t been classified. Given the numbers, the blue economy has vast potential for supporting human exploration and exploitation. ProBlue envisions a sustainable blue economy that uses alternative sources of renewable energy.

The Big Blue Planet and the Future

In one way, green economy policies and initiatives see a bigger picture that now includes a blue economy. The green economy uses recycled consumer goods exclusively on 29% of the earth’s surface not covered by water. The blue economy uses lessons learned as the green economy continues searching for ways to help the planet. Thus, the blue economy is the next step in ensuring the green economy is sustainable for a futuristic planet that reverses global warming. The future big blue planet will be a very different planet with blue economy thinking. Water is a plentiful resource, yet people still die from famine and disease in drought-stricken countries. Blue economy programs and initiatives use the oceans as a renewable resource. This counters ongoing exploitative practices that decrease ocean resources. For example, giant ocean fishing nets catch and kill everything caught in the nets.

Blue Economy is Earth Economy

Developing countries will have access to technology developed for the blue economy, technology that treats resources as recyclable resources. Given 40% of the global population lives close to oceans, developing sustainable energy sources like wind and solar farms could represent a labor boost for some communities. Combined with desalinization plants, the blue economy puts the earth’s inhabitants on a path that reverses global warming.

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