The idea of sustainable development has formed the basis of the Green Economy, which looks outward from land to the ocean space as a limitless horizon with unending resources. The Blue Economy, on the other hand, views a sustainable ocean economy as an integral part of the Green Economy.
Alison Borgess, founder of the International Ocean Institute, sums up this tie in explaining the Blue Economy: “If before you saw the sea and the sea floor as a continuation of the land, you now see the land as a continuation of the sea.”
The Blue Economy is a concept derived from the fact that we live on a planet made of up to 75 percent of ocean. When examining this with our “land based” vision, what we see is basically limited to an ocean and coast interface. But the economy of this planet must be seen as an integrated whole and in homage to our blue planet we can call it “The Blue Economy” which, in essence, implies the full interaction of the human species “living with the ocean and from the ocean in a sustainable relationship”.
The Green Economy is one that results in reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It entails an economy or economic development model based on sustainable development and a knowledge of ecological economics.
A feature distinguishing it from prior economic regimes is the direct valuation of natural capital and ecological services as having economic value and a full cost accounting regime in which costs externalized onto society via ecosystems are reliably traced back to, and accounted for as liabilities of, the entity that does the harm or neglects an asset.
The concept of the Blue Economy was born out of the 2010 International Ocean Institute (IOI) Pacem in Maribus 23rd conference in Beijing, China.
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, two years ago launched the comprehensive Oceans Compact, which aims at setting out a strategic vision for the UN system to deliver on its ocean related mandates, consistent with the Rio+20 outcome, in a more coherent manner and to provide a platform for all stakeholders to collaborate and accelerate progress in the achievement of the common goal of Healthy Oceans for Prosperity.
It is expected to build upon the range of existing and ongoing activities of the UN organisations to assist member states to implement the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant global and regional conventions.
While there is interdependence between oceans, coasts and humans that inhabit the coast on one hand, most urban centres are, on the other, experiencing a fast and largely uncontrolled population growth, particularly in developing countries. This has been more evident in coastal areas.
Concern lies in the magnitude of the interdependent impact that the nexus between ocean and urban coast and human settlement has on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of ocean and coast. Coastal cities are at the front line of this impact.
There is no doubt that the current deterioration of the health of the ocean is in large part due to the result of the pressures exerted by human settlement and the negative impact on the oceans and coasts ecosystems.
Some of the ocean’s services to mankind are: in fields ranging from recreation to research, from travel to trade, from food to medicine, from waste disposal to carbon sink, from energy to minerals, from climate control to border control and much, much more.
The Blue Economy renders imperative an inclusive stakeholder participation in collaborative governance based on linkages between ocean, coastal and urban systems that internalizes the vulnerability of communities and infrastructure. In the Blue Economy there would be a need to quantify internal benefits of different activities and the commensurate viable socio-economic contribution to resilience through preparedness, mitigation and adaptation by the nation or community.
The Blue Economy at the national level revolves around an efficient and sustainable use of ocean and coastal services and resources that internalizes external costs together with an efficient valuing of natural non-market assets and services and the access thereto. This however makes imperative a major reform of the financial architecture governance for a fiscal overhaul that reflects all aspects of ocean services.
An important tenet of the Blue Economy is that the responsibility as well as sharing in the costs and benefits does not rest with one entity such as the State but it should be spread among all stake holders. It is the responsibility of all stake holders in a holistic model, at the level of the individual, the locality, the community, the society, the region, the national level and the international, public and particularly private sectors.
The first World Ocean Review lists the following five effects of sea-level rise on the natural coastal system: sea level rise, flooding, loss of coastal wetlands, erosion of beaches and bluffs, intrusion of saltwater and limited soil drainage.