Counties must forge global “Blue Deal” to protect the ocean economy: UNCTAD


New Delhi: UN Trade and Development body UNCTAD, called upon nations to create a “Blue Deal” to increase financial support for preserving the ocean and using its resources sustainably.

As per its “Trade and Environment Review 2023” presented at the 3rd UN Trade Forum in Geneva on Monday the UN Agency said, “the livelihoods of about 3 billion people are at stake who are living mostly in coastal areas – rely on the ocean for food and income”.

The report analyses the world’s $3-6 billion ocean economy, and assessed how human activity and multiple global crises have significantly impacted sectors like fishing, seafood, shipping and coastal tourism.

“The ocean economy offers many opportunities. We must strike the right balance between benefitting from the ocean and protecting its resources,” UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Pedro Manuel Moreno said.

The report builds on the recommendations from the 4th UN Oceans Forum and the 2nd UN Ocean Conference held in 2022.

The Trade and Environment Review 2023, also highlights two particularly promising sectors for sustainable development – seaweed farming and plastics substitutes.

The global market for seaweed has more than tripled in two decades, increasing from $4.5 billion in 2000, to $16.5 billion by 2020.

“There are many other sustainable materials that could be used to make eco-friendly versions of the straws, food wrapping and other plastic products we consume daily” said UNCTAD.

The world traded about $388 billion in plastics substitutes in 2020 – just one third the amount traded in plastics made from fossil fuels.

The report calls for governments and businesses to boost funding for the research and development of emerging sustainable sectors in the ocean economy.

As per the UNCTAD the ocean economy is worth between $3 trillion and $6 trillion and offers vast opportunities for developing countries to build resilience.

But marine resources are under threat from climate change, pollution and overfishing. About 11 million tonnes of plastic flow into the ocean each year. Globally, 34% of fish stocks have fallen to levels that are biologically unsustainable.

An estimated $35 billion of government subsidies go to fishing activities around the world.

A significant share – about $20 billion a year – could contribute to overfishing by enhancing the fishing industry’s capacity through, for example, fuel subsidies or financial incentives to buy bigger boats.

It’s estimated that an investment of $2.8 trillion today in four sustainable ocean solutions – conservation and restoration of mangroves, decarbonization of international shipping, sustainable ocean-based food production and offshore wind production – would yield net benefits of $15.5 trillion by 2050.

“Without a global Blue Deal, such benefits and the targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, on life below water, will be much harder to reach” it said.


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