Blue economy

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Ship with cranes
The maritime transport is a part of the blue economy.

Blue economy is a term in economics relating to the exploitation, preservation and regeneration of the marine environment. Its scope of interpretation varies among organizations. However, the term is generally used in the scope of international development when describing a sustainable development approach to coastal resources. This can include a wide range of economic sectors, from the more conventional fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, coastal, marine and maritime tourism,[1] or other traditional uses, to more emergent activities such as coastal renewable energy, marine ecosystem services (i.e. blue carbon), seabed mining, and bioprospecting.


In November 2018, a conference in Kenya was held to discuss a sustainable future for the world's oceans. [2]


According to the World Bank,[3] the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem."

European Commission defines it as "All economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts. It covers a wide range of interlinked established and emerging sectors."[4]

The Commonwealth of Nations considers it "an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or 'blue' resources."[5]

Conservation International adds that "blue economy also includes economic benefits that may not be marketed, such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values and biodiversity."[6]

The Center for the Blue Economy says "it is now a widely used term around the world with three related but distinct meanings- the overall contribution of the oceans to economies, the need to address the environmental and ecological sustainability of the oceans, and the ocean economy as a growth opportunity for both developed and developing countries."[7]

A United Nations representative recently defined the Blue Economy as an economy that "comprises a range of economic sectors and related policies that together determine whether the use of ocean resources is sustainable. An important challenge of the blue economy is to understand and better manage the many aspects of oceanic sustainability, ranging from sustainable fisheries to ecosystem health to preventing pollution. Secondly, the blue economy challenges us to realize that the sustainable management of ocean resources will require collaboration across borders and sectors through a variety of partnerships, and on a scale that has not been previously achieved. This is a tall order, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) who face significant limitations." The UN notes that the Blue Economy will aid in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, of which one goal, 14, is "life below water".

World Wildlife Fund begins its report[8] Principles for a Sustainable BLUE ECONOMY with two senses given to this term: "For some, blue economy means the use of the sea and its resources for sustainable economic development. For others, it simply refers to any economic activity in the maritime sector, whether sustainable or not."

As the WWF reveals in its purpose of the report, there is still no widely accepted definition of the term blue economy despite increasing high-level adoption of it as a concept and as a goal of policy-making and investment.[8]

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the blue economy, which includes all industries with a direct or indirect connection to the ocean, such as marine energy, ports, shipping, coastal protection, and seafood production, could outperform global economic growth by 2030.[9][10][11]

Related terms[edit]

Blue Technology[edit]

low-cost ROV

Blue Technology refers to the application of innovative and sustainable practices that aid to a healthier water economy. It's used in nearly every sector to advance or improve existing practices.[12] Examples include ROVs that can monitor fish farms, robotics that can assist in the effort to regenerate corals,[13] or vehicles built to remove trash from waterways.[14]

Ocean economy[edit]

A related term of blue economy is ocean economy and we see some organizations using the two terms interchangeably.[15] However, these two terms represent different concepts. Ocean economy simply deals with the use of ocean resources and is strictly aimed at empowering the economic system of ocean.[16] Blue economy goes beyond viewing the ocean economy solely as a mechanism for economic growth.[5] It focuses on the sustainability of ocean for economic growth. Therefore, blue economy encompasses ecological aspects of the ocean along with economic aspects.

Green economy[edit]

The green economy is defined as an economy that aims at reducing environmental risks, and that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment. It is closely related with ecological economics. Therefore, blue economy is a part of green economy. During Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, Pacific small island developing states stated that, for them, "a green economy was in fact a blue economy".[17]

Blue growth[edit]

A related term is blue growth, which means "support to the growth of the maritime sector in a sustainable way."[18] The term is adopted by the European Union as an integrated maritime policy to achieve the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy.[19]

Blue justice[edit]

Blue Justice is a critical approach examining how coastal communities and small-scale fisheries are affected by blue economy and "blue growth" initiatives undertaken by institutions and governments globally to promote sustainable ocean development. The blue economy is also rooted in the green economy and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.[20] Blue Justice acknowledges the historical rights of small-scale fishing communities to marine and inland resources and coastal space; in some cases, communities have used these resources for thousands of years. Thus, as a concept, it seeks to investigate pressures on small-scale fisheries from other ocean uses promoted in blue economy and blue growth agendas, including industrial fisheries, coastal and marine tourism, aquaculture, and energy production, and how they may compromise the rights and the well-being of small-scale fisheries and their communities.


On top of the traditional ocean activities such as fisheries, tourism and maritime transport, blue economy entails emerging industries including renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities and marine biotechnology and bioprospecting.[21] Blue economy also attempts to embrace ocean ecosystem services that are not captured by the market but provide significant contribution to economic and human activity. They include carbon sequestration, coastal protection, waste disposal, and the existence of biodiversity.[21]

The 2015 WWF briefing puts the value of key ocean assets over US$24 trillion.[17] Fisheries are now overexploited, but there is still plenty of room for aquaculture and offshore wind power.[22] Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector with the supply of 58 percent of fish to global markets.[21] Aquaculture is vital to food security of the poorest countries especially. Only in the European Union the blue economy employed 3,362,510 people in 2014.[18]

Disadvantages of a Blue Economy[edit]

The World Bank specifies three challenges that limit the potential to develop a blue economy.[21]

  1. Current economic trends that have been rapidly degrading ocean resources.
  2. The lack of investment in human capital for employment and development in innovative blue economy sectors.
  3. Inadequate care for marine resources and ecosystem services of the oceans.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sharafuddin, Mohammed Ali; Madhavan, Meena (2020). "Thematic Evolution of Blue Tourism: A Scientometric Analysis and Systematic Review". Global Business Review: 0972150920966885. doi:10.1177/0972150920966885. ISSN 0972-1509. S2CID 228811331.
  2. ^ Nations, United. "Diving into the blue economy". United Nations. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  3. ^ "What is the Blue Economy?". THE WORLD BANK. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  4. ^ "The 2018 Annual Economic Report on EU Blue Economy". European Union: 5. 2018. ISBN 978-92-79-81757-1.
  5. ^ a b (, Site designed and built by Hydrant (21 March 2018). "Blue economy | The Commonwealth". Archived from the original on 2018-10-19. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  6. ^ Bertazzo, Sophie (2018-03-07). "What on Earth is the 'blue economy'? – Human Nature – Conservation..." Human Nature – Conservation International Blog. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  7. ^ "Our History and Methodology". Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  8. ^ a b Principles for a Sustainable BLUE ECONOMY (PDF). World Wildlife Fund. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  9. ^ "The EU Blue economy report 2023" (PDF). European Commission Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
  10. ^ Bank, European Investment (2023-08-17). Clean oceans and the blue economy Overview 2023. European Investment Bank. ISBN 978-92-861-5518-5.
  11. ^ "The Ocean Economy in 2030". Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  12. ^ a b Purcell, Nicolette (2023-05-30). "What is the Blue Economy?". Blue Robotics. Retrieved 2024-01-12.
  13. ^ "The game-changing robotics helping to grow new corals". Great Barrier Reef Foundation. 2023-01-09. Retrieved 2024-01-12.
  14. ^ "Robot shark fights pollution in Hudson River Park". Retrieved 2024-01-12.
  15. ^ "Ocean Economy Takes Center Stage at Davos". Grit Daily News. 2019-02-09. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  16. ^ Examrace. "Blue Economy versus Ocean Economy- Translation in Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telgu – Examrace". Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  17. ^ a b "What a 'blue economy' really is – WWF's perspective". WWF. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  18. ^ a b c "BLUE GROWTH". Mare. European Commission. 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  19. ^ Anonymous (2016-09-28). "Blue growth – Maritime Affairs – European Commission". Maritime Affairs – European Commission. Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  20. ^ Isaacs, M. (23 July 2019). Blue Justice for small-scale fisheries. Retrieved 26 July 2019, from Plaas website:
  21. ^ a b c d "The Potential of the Blue Economy : Increasing Long-term Benefits of the Sustainable Use of Marine Resources for Small Island Developing States and Coastal Least Developed Countries" (PDF). World Bank: ix. 2017.
  22. ^ Wind EUROPE; BVGassociates (June 2017). Unleashing Europe's offshore wind potential (PDF). Brussels, Belgium. p. 16. Retrieved 14 May 2018.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)