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The ‘Blue Economy’ is an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean resources. As defined by the World Bank, the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” It supports all of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG14 ‘life below water’.

Driven by the linkage between the ocean, climate change and the wellbeing of our population, especially in small island states which have the least control but the most to lose, the blue economy model aims for improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental impacts due to the exploitation of marine and maritime resources.

While the concept of the blue economy was born in 2012, it appears to be gaining traction with major organisations now paying attention and taking action. Aside from the temporary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the move to a sustainable blue economy however faces some barriers – not the least being the siloed nature of the blue economies industries (a concept discussed in in last years’ Forbes article “Making the blue economy sustainable”). The blue economy requires marine and maritime industries to come together to see the big picture in an integrated way, a behaviour not yet the norm for industries such as shipping, fisheries or marine tourism.

In this month’s latest article, Turning the Tide to a Blue Economy, experts from around the world still agree that the single biggest obstacle to the success of the blue economy is silo thinking – and the only solution, integrated management tools designed to support a holistic view of the different dimensions of the blue economy. Ocean accounting is a qualitative process which calculates the ‘stocks and flows’ of the different uses, natural assets, environmental costs and socio-economic benefits in the ocean. This data then informs decision making by providing information on how a change in management for one sector might influence other components of the natural, economic and social system.

As leading experts in natural capital accounting, the IDEEA Group are helping to guide the framework for Ocean Accounts, key contributors to Technical Guidance on Ocean Accounting as published by the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership. Having been involved in projects around the globe ­– including representing the Capitals Coalition on the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership and on the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy Advisory Network – we are beginning to see momentum build for ocean accounting in support of the blue economy. You can learn more about related projects in which we are involved below.

With the worldwide ocean economy currently valued at around US$1.5 trillion per year, 80% of global trade by volume carried by sea and aquaculture the fastest growing food sector, the sustainable use of ocean resources has never been more important. Realising the full potential of the blue economy means inclusion and participation of all affected social groups and sectors – an integrated management approach driven by qualitative data to inform collaborative decision making.

Learn more about IDEEA Group recent ocean accounting projects:

  • Mapping Ocean Wealth – partnering with Deakin University and the Nature Conservancy to populate natural capital accounts for Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, near Melbourne Australia
  • Geographe Bay – developing Ocean Accounts for Geographe Bay in Western Australia for the Australian Commonwealth Government
  • Bord Iscaigh Marah (BIM) ­– reporting with Ireland’s seafood development sector in Ireland

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