Blue economy for marine resource development

Indonesia, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will soon start implementing the blue economy concept in the East Lombok and Central Lombok regencies in the province of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). An integrated, upstream and downstream development program covering tuna fisheries, aquaculture, marine tourism, salt industry, pearl industry, ecosystem services with eco-friendly sustainable energy and other infrastructure, including a capacity-building program, is being pushed forward to begin this year, and is scheduled to be completed by 2018, ready to be showcased to the world. 

The Lombok Blue Economy Implementation Program is expected to create 77,700 new jobs and to generate an income of Rp 1.3 trillion (US$114.88 million) per year.

As the world’s largest archipelagic nation, with more than 17,400 islands, 5.9 million square kilometers of territorial water and exclusive economic zone, and an 81,000-kilometer-long coastline, Indonesia has gained recognition as a strong promoter of the blue economy concept. At the Blue Economy Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in January 2014, Indonesia’s presentation on the blue economy concept received a very positive reception. Seychelles President James Alix Michel welcomed the Indonesian initiative presented by Indonesia’s maritime affairs and fisheries minister, Sharif Cicip Sutardjo, and supported Indonesia’s leadership in this endeavour. 

Indonesia’s blue economy implementation should be showcased to the world as the world prepares the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. The world is charting the sustainable ocean of 2015 to 2030 and beyond in order to answer a particularly pressing global challenge: how to feed its 9 billion population in 2050.

The world is embracing the blue economy concept, which has gained great interest in international forums, such as the RIO+20 in 2012, the Asia Conference on Oceans, Food Security and Blue Growth in Bali in 2013, and likely at the forthcoming Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth in The Hague (April 2014), and as part of the SDG process. 

Some measures that could be considered include reducing marine pollution and debris, including from land-based activities; halting the destruction of marine habitats, including ocean acidification; promoting the sustainable exploitation of marine resources; regulating the harvesting of straddling fish stocks; addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices…

It has also become key in the development strategies of international organizations, like the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Bank, the FAO, the European Union, as well as many individual nations, developed and developing, including the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The rationale is that three-quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans and seas, which are both an engine for global economic growth and a key source of food security. 

Global ocean economic activity is estimated to be between $3 trillion and $5 trillion, contributing to the world economy in many important ways, such as the significant fact that 90 per cent of global trade moves by marine transportation. Fisheries and aquaculture provide 4.3 billion people with more than 15 per cent of annual consumption of animal protein. Over 30 per cent of global oil and gas produced is extracted from offshore sites. 

Expanding knowledge on marine biodiversity has provided breakthrough advances in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food production and aquaculture. Over 3.1 billion of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the ocean or sea in about 150 coastal and island nations. “Blue-green economy” increases overall wealth of a nation while producing a higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate. 

Leaders from the 23 economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, declared in Bali in October 2013 that they would pursue “cross-sectoral work under the APEC Initiative on Mainstreaming Ocean-related Issues, including those in line with priorities outlined by our ocean-related ministers, that will maintain the health and sustainability of our oceans and coastal resources for the benefit of food security, poverty eradication, preservation of traditional culture and knowledge, conservation of biodiversity and facilitation of trade and investment”. This declaration is in line with the blue economy approach.

The FAO embraces the blue economy concept in the Global Initiative on Blue Growth in support of food security, poverty alleviation and the sustainable management of aquatic resources. The initiative will be a cross-cutting global activity that will have global, regional and national impact on increasing food security, improving nutrition, reducing poverty of coastal and riparian communities and supporting the sustainable management of aquatic resources, including through participatory processes and actions to improve implementation at local levels. 

The FAO Global Blue Growth Initiative gained the interest of delegates from 42 countries gathered in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on March 10 to 14 this year, at the 32nd session of the FAO’s Asia-Pacific Regional Conference, and has been adopted as one of the conference’s results.

The United Nations Open Working Group (UNOWG), established in January 2013, has been tasked with steering the proposal on the SDGs Post-2015 agenda, ready for adoption at the 2015 UN General Assembly. 

Following deliberations and discussions, from March 2013 to February 2014, UNOWG identified 19 focus areas for in-depth consultations, one of which related to marine resources, oceans and seas. This focus area will concentrate on the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas to ensure the provision of economic and social benefits and ecosystem services to humankind. 

Some measures that could be considered include reducing marine pollution and debris, including from land-based activities; halting the destruction of marine habitats, including ocean acidification; promoting the sustainable exploitation of marine resources; regulating the harvesting of straddling fish stocks; addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and destructive fishing practices; eliminating harmful subsidies; ensuring the full implementation of regional and international regimes governing oceans and seas, and establishing marine protected areas (MPAs). 

It is high time for Indonesia to take a leading role during the next negotiating period of the post-2015 development agenda on SDGs and bring up the importance of marine, sea and ocean resources with its blue economy concept at the table.

Our Earth, its people and its bloodstream, the oceans, should be managed in a sustainable way for the generations to come. 

Indroyono Soesilo is the director for fisheries and aquaculture resources use and conservation at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome. This post originally appeared in The Jakarta Post.

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