India-Norway Task Force On Blue Economy


  • On 19thFebruary, 2020, India along with Norway opened the India-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy, in order to promote Sustainable Development, of both the countries.

Background

  • The idea of Task Force on Blue Economy was mooted during the visit of Norwegian Prime Minister in January, 2019.
  • Both the countries signed a MoU on India-Norway Ocean Dialogue and the establishment of the Joint Task Force on 'Blue Economy' in order to promote multi-sectoral cooperation in various aspects of Blue Economy.

Key Points

  • The purpose of the task force is to develop and follow up joint initiatives between the two countries. The bilateral collaboration intends to manage the resources in the oceans in a sustainable manner.
  • The ultimate goal is to promote sustainable value creation and employment in the ocean-based industries.
  • The strength and value added of the India-Norway Joint Task Force on Blue Economy is its ability to mobilise relevant stakeholders from both Norway and India at the highest level, and ensure continued commitment and progress across ministries and agencies.
  • The two countries also commenced a new collaboration on Integrated Ocean Management & Research.

Blue Economy

  • The idea was introduced by Gunter Pauli in his 2010 book- “The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs”.
  • The term ‘Blue Economy’ was first coined by representatives of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other coastal countries during the 2012 Rio Summit.
  • The Blue Economy aims to move beyond business as usual and to consider economic development and ocean health as compatible propositions.
  • It seeks to promote economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation or improvement of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas. At its core it refers to the decoupling of socioeconomic development through oceans-related sectors and activities from environmental and ecosystems degradation.
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 intends to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Components of Blue Economy

  • The Blue Economy has diverse components, including established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport, but also new and emerging activities, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities, and marine biotechnology and bio-prospecting.
  • In order to qualify as components of a Blue Economy, activities need to:
    •  provide social and economic benefits for current and future generations
    •  restore, protect, and maintain the diversity, productivity, resilience, core functions, and intrinsic value of marine ecosystems
    • be based on clean technologies, renewable energy, and circular material flows that will reduce waste and promote recycling of materials.

 

Components of Blue Economy

Importance of Blue Economy

Key to Food Security

  • Fisheries, which is a vital oceanic resource forms the core of the Blue Economy, provides food to hundreds of millions of people and greatly contribute to the livelihoods of coastal communities. It plays an important role in ensuring food security, poverty alleviation and also has a huge potential for business opportunities.

Immense Source of Renewable Ocean Energy

  • The world population is expected to increase to an estimated 9 billion people in 2050, which is 1.5 times greater than the current population, resulting in an increase in countries' demands on fossil fuels.
  • In this scenario, Blue Economy could be a major source of clean energy, where large renewable energy is not tapped.

Coastal Tourism Opportunities

  • Coastal tourism, a major sector of Blue Economy, presents huge potential for job creation and economic growth.
  • Sustainable coastal tourism can assist with the preservation of artisanal fishing communities, allow for subsistence fishing, protect the environment, and make positive contributions to sustainable economic development.

Shipping, Port infrastructure and Logistics

  • The seaport and maritime transport sector is one of the important priority sectors under the Blue Economy.
  • Sea is a cost-effective and carbon-friendly mode of transportation for global trade. About 90 per cent of world trade is conducted through the sea routes.

Seabed Mining

  • With the decreasing inland mineral deposits and increasing industrial demands, much attention is being focused on mineral exploration and mining of the seabed.
  • Deep-sea mining is viewed as a potential sector for promotion of Blue Economy. The seabed contains minerals that represent a rapidly developing opportunity for economic development in both the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of coastal nations and beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Marine Industry

  • Marine manufacturing, electricity generation from offshore sources, gas and water constitute the industrial sectors of Blue Economy. Marine manufacturing sector covers a wide range of activities such as boat manufacturing, sail making, net manufacturing, boat and ship repair, marine instrumentation, aquaculture technology, marine industrial engineering, etc.

Marine Biotechnology Research & Development

  • Marine biotechnology (or Blue Biotechnology) is considered an area of great interest and potential due to the contribution for the building of an eco-sustainable and highly efficient society.
  • A fundamental aspect is related to aquaculture, whereby new methodologies will help in: selective breeding of species; increasing sustainability of production; and enhancing animal welfare, including adjustments in food supply, preventive therapeutic measures, and use of zero-waste recirculation systems.

Challenges to Blue Economy

Unsustainable Exploitation of Marine Resources

  • Unsustainable extraction of marine resources, such as unsustainable fishing as a result of technological improvements coupled with poorly managed access to fish stocks and rising demand. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that approximately 57 per cent of fish stocks are fully exploited and another 30 per cent are over-exploited, depleted, or recovering.
  • Fish stocks are further exploited by illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which is responsible for roughly 11–26 million tons of fish catch annually or US$10-22 billion in unlawful or undocumented revenue.

Threat to Marine Ecology

  • Physical alterations and destruction of marine and coastal habitats and landscapes due largely to coastal development, deforestation, and mining. Coastal erosion also destroys infrastructure and livelihoods.
  • Unplanned and unregulated development in the narrow coastal interface and near shore areas has led to significant externalities between sectors, overlapping uses of land and marine areas, marginalization of poor communities, and loss or degradation of critical habitats.

Marine Pollution

  • Sea water is continuously getting polluted in the form of excess nutrients from untreated sewerage, agricultural runoff, and marine debris such as plastics.

Climate Change

  • Impacts of climate change, for example, in the form of both slow-onset events like sea-level rise and more intense and frequent weather events pose major challenges to Blue Economy. The changes in sea temperature, acidity, and major oceanic currents, among others, already threatening marine life, habitats, and the communities that depend on them.

Unfair and Unregulated Trade Practices

  • Many times fishing agreements allow access to an EEZ of country to foreign operators. These operators restrict transfer of specific fishing knowledge to national stakeholders leading to low appropriation of fisheries export revenues by national operators. So, the potential for national exploitation of those resources is reduced in the long run.

Blue Economy in India

  • Despite being surrounded by water on three sides, India is unable to utilise its marine resources due to lack technological advancement and skilled manpower.
  • For India, Blue Economy assumes high priority. The Indian Government has an integrated maritime development programme called Sagarmala Programme which is central on the government's maritime vision.
  • The Deep Ocean Mission, on the other hand, aims to explore the 75,000 sq km sea bed that comes under India's purview.

Sagarmala Programme

  • It was announced in 2015 and aims to turn the coastal areas into economic centers for regional and global maritime connectivity for trade to achieve the broad objective of promoting port-led development in India.

Components of Sagarmala Programme

  • Port Modernization & New Port Development: De-bottlenecking and capacity expansion of existing ports and development of new greenfield ports.
  • Port Connectivity Enhancement: Enhancing the connectivity of the ports to the hinterland, optimizing cost and time of cargo movement through multi-modal logistics solutions including domestic waterways (inland water transport and coastal shipping).
  • Port-linked Industrialization: Developing port-proximate industrial clusters and Coastal Economic Zones to reduce logistics cost and time of export-import and domestic cargo.
  • Coastal Community Development: Promoting sustainable development of coastal communities through skill development & livelihood generation activities, fisheries development, coastal tourism, etc.
  • Coastal Shipping & Inland Waterways Transport: Impetus to move cargo through the sustainable and environment-friendly coastal and inland waterways mode.