Lead investigator of the Blue Futures Keystone Project and ANCORS Research Fellow, Dr Michelle Voyer, has co-authored of a paper published in Nature Sustainability, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal.
The paper, “Towards a Sustainable and Equitable Blue Economy,” highlights the need for bold policies and regulations surrounding the economic development of ocean and marine resources, particularly as no current guidelines exist that focus on the blue economy.
“Blue economy” is an umbrella term which refers to the sustainable use of ocean and marine resources for economic growth, jobs and improved livelihoods.
With the economic potential of the ocean expected to double from US$1.5 trillion in 2010 to US$3 trillion by 2030, developing actions and regulations to monitor this growth is essential.
Five recommendations directed at local, national and international levels were put forward in the paper that address this growth, with the aim of reducing potential negative risks that may arise from an ever-expanding blue economy.
- Establish a global coordinating body and develop international guidelines
- Ensure national policies and institutions safeguard sustainability
- Promote equitable sharing of benefits and minimizations of harms
- Employ inclusive governance and decision-making processes
- Engage with insights from interdisciplinary ocean science
Dr Voyer says the publication of the piece, and the recommendations put forward are significant, with the concept of a blue economy continuing to gain momentum around the world.
“This comment piece comes at a critical time for the world’s oceans, [as they are] increasingly the focus of plans of economic growth and development,” she says.
“We are beginning to see a rush towards large scale industrialisation of the oceans, and this paper urges decision-makers and industry to ensure that there are frameworks in place which safeguard the environment and human rights within the Blue Economy.”
The paper was released in the lead up to a number of global conferences relating to the future of the oceans, including the 2020 United Nations Our Ocean conference.
Dr Voyer says the paper will help inform deliberations at the international meeting, as world leaders come together to discuss the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water.
“We expect the Blue Economy will be a hot topic within these discussions,” she says.
“The publication of the paper in Nature Sustainability helps to draw attention to our concerns about the potential risks associated with the ‘Blue Economy’, and it will help inform deliberations over the next 12 months.”
With a strong focus on climate and sustainability from natural and social sciences, Nature Sustainability is a leading online scientific journal, with the overarching aim of ensuring the wellbeing of current and future generations within the limits of the natural world.
On the inclusion in the prestigious journal, Dr Voyer says many of the ideas expressed in the paper align with the challenges presented in the ‘Blue Futures’ keystone project.
“Our project focusses specifically on mechanisms and approaches to the Blue Economy which foreground social equity and environmental protection,” she says.
“We hope our local region will become a model for the world on community based and community led approaches to the Blue Economy.”