The oceans and seas of the world are significant for the sustainable development of the world, as they cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface and continue to provide the inhabitants of this planet with oxygen, livelihood and seafood. In the recent past, a new notion of “Blue Economy”, also known as “Oceans Economy”, or “Blue Growth” is emerging, with the goal of: stamping out poverty by providing work opportunities and sustainable livelihoods, providing food and important minerals, generating oxygen, trapping the greenhouse gases that keep Earth’s climate inhabitable for humans and other species, and most importantly to function as highways for marine international trade.
The concept of Blue Economy was originated in 2012, at a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Growth which was held in Rio de Janeiro. The World Bank defines the Blue Economy as, “a marine-based economic development that leads to improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. Though similar to the concept of Green Economy, the Blue Economy is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of 2014, specifically with the “life below water” article, where the desired outcome is not only using the ocean resources for economic opportunities but also protecting and preserving oceans for the future.
However, the world is facing certain challenges like increase in sea levels, extreme weather changes, overfishing, over exploration of blue resources and rising temperatures that have the ability to undermine the blue economy, which have both direct and indirect effects on the ocean related activities. International ports and shipping are essential for the countries for accessing global markets as 80% of the international trade is carried out by sea routes.
The Blue Economy is an inclusive model for the coastal states and the small island countries that are endowed with tremendous ocean resources but due to their incapacity they are unable to benefit from those resources. For instance, Seychelles is biodiversity hotspot in the world and has emerged as a champion of sustainable use of ocean resources. Another nation which is ambitiously taking over the goal of building blue economy is Palau, located in the Pacific Ocean. It is known for its commitment for conserving the wildlife and oceans and moreover Palau has labeled around 80% of its territorial waters as marine sanctuary. Canada and Japan also co-hosted a conference on Blue Economy where delegates from 184 countries participated. At conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Justin Trudeau showed his commitment to build a sustainable ocean economy. And has pledged millions of dollars for this purpose.
Pakistan and Blue Economy:
Pakistan Navy emphasized on developing blue economy, as they believe that the future and prosperity of states lies in the sea. The present Naval Chief, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, proposed that Malaysia and Pakistan can work together to build up a sustainable Blue Economy, as it will not only strengthen the naval ties between both countries but also bring economic opportunities. Pakistan Navy also draws attention on the importance of developing marine tourism which will help in assisting the promotion of the Blue Economy in the country. The concept and benefits of the Blue Economy are being brought to attention at the highest forums by Pakistan’s Navy, which will not only create jobs for thousands of people but will play a crucial role in the overall economic growth of the country. The significant geostrategic location of Pakistan brings exclusive opportunities in the domain of maritime, as the country has vast maritime potential and there’s a necessity to explore these resources. This can be achieved through joint ventures. Moreover, the President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi emphasized on the scarcity of resources on the land, which is turning the attention towards sea. In February 2019, a three day International Maritime Conference was organized by National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA), which was based on the theme of ‘Global Geopolitics in Transition: Rethinking Maritime Dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region’. President Alvi and Naval Chief Abbasi also participated in the conference. The conference highlighted the significance of newly emerging blue economy and how ocean resources can be effectively used, as they are essential for the development of Pakistan. The Naval Chief stated, “On our national front, Pakistan has commenced ‘Regional Maritime Security Patrols’ (RMSP) which aims to maintain security posture in critical sea areas and choke points in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan, located at a strategic position in the Indian Ocean, needs to prepare itself for the challenges and work out viable strategy for the development of the maritime sector.”
In 2015, the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the new deep seaport Gwadar, Pakistan has now vast opportunities to explore the sea resources for sustainable development of the country, as it has also enhanced the country’s geostrategic location providing important sea routes throughout the Indian Ocean near the Strait of Hormuz and access to other global markets. With the development of the third seaport Gwadar, Pakistan can also benefit from maritime tourism, as another sector that can contribute to the GDP. For instance, if Balochistan is developed, it will attract tourists from within the country as well as from the foreign states, which will bring huge revenue to the country. By concentrating on the maritime framework, the blue economy will provide job opportunities such as in the fishery industry. Gwadar provides Pakistan with a great opportunity to capitalize on its potential to build a sustainable blue economy. Maritime tourism is one of the largest growing sector and Maldives has successfully used its islands to generate huge revenue through maritime tourism.
Role of Pakistan House:
Pakistan House will dedicate its intellectual and material resources to complement Pakistan’s vision of Blue Economy and it will be supporting the efforts of Pakistan Navy in enhancing a sustainable blue economy and preserving the oceans and generating awareness amongst the stakeholders. Pakistan House will promote and facilitate international academic cooperation between Pakistan Navy and international think tanks working on the subject.