In the aftermath of “Rio + 20” conference in 2012, Belgian economist Gunter Pauli talked about the need to protect the sustainable management of water resources, based on the assumption that ocean ecosystems are more productive and a must for the sustainability of the ocean-based economies, paving the way for a terminology to be used since then for the first time: The Blue Economy.

Six years later, the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, hosted by the end of November 2018 a conference which I had taken part in entitled: “Sustainability of the Blue Economy”, which was attended by nearly 18,000 delegates from 184 countries. By then, it has been estimated that the Blue Economy will double the growth rates of the traditional economy until 2030, and the rate may increase if the trends in resorting to seas and oceans grow in power generation and water desalination plants.

The term Blue Economy means good management of ocean and sea resources for sustainable development for the future generations, encompassing electricity generation from water energy, mining activities in the seas and oceans, marine tourism, fishing activities, aquatic organisms and extraction of raw materials from the seas, and other forms of economic activities associated with water.

Experts believe that economics has seven colours: black, white, red, gray, brown, green, as well as blue, but in recent years many voices have started calling for the gradual abandonment of dark colour economies that threaten the environment and people in general, on top of which is the “brown economy”, which depends on fossil fuels, due to the pollution caused by water and air and the threat to marine and wild life. Those experts called for replacement of such destructive economies by other types of economy, such as the green economy that significantly reduces environmental risks and ecological scarcity of resources, in addition to the “Blue Economy”, which places the ecological factor high on its priority list.

The interest in the Blue Economy exceeded the barrier of academic and research boundaries to the circles of economic and political decision makers in many countries as oceans and seas have treasures and assets estimated at US$ 30 trillion. The primary objective of this economy revolves around reducing environmental risks, scarcity of resources and reducing behaviours that lead to climate change as well as controlling pollution, poaching and illegal fishing, based on the assumption that the best ecosystems of the seas and oceans are the most productive because water covers more than 70 per cent of the planet’s surface.

The World Wildlife Fund, in its assessment of the volume of this economy, emphasised that if the oceans were a country, its economy would be the 6th in the world in addition to the value of all the major existing assets, $30 trillion. Moreover, more than three billion people around the world depend on biological diversity of the world’s oceans and seas for their livelihood. Statistics show that approximately 350 million jobs worldwide are mainly related to sea-related activities.

This is apart from the fact that nearly 80 per cent of global trade is transported overseas. Furthermore, more than 7 million people work in coastal and marine tourism. Recent figures show that the blue economy industries secure livelihoods for more than 820 million people worldwide. The Blue Economy also serves as a catalyst for the development of policies, investment and innovation in support of food security.

Many industrial countries have witnessed a significant development of their Blue Economy through the exploitation of marine resources. Numerous statistics indicate millions of jobs worldwide are mainly related to fishing. Hydroponics is the fastest growing food sector, providing about 50 per cent of fish for human consumption, while it is estimated that about 34 per cent of crude oil and gas will come from offshore fields by 2025.

Apart from the opinions that believe that the Blue Economy is a means to protect the environment, marine tourism represents more than half of the value of economic returns in some countries, and fisheries can represent anywhere between 10 — 50 per cent of the GDP of others.

Consequently, reliance on oil as a primary source of income constitutes a weak point in the economies. Therefore, the link between the oil price map and the international and regional developments makes relying on this formula an unaccounted adventure, which has become clear through time as the entire energy sources witnessed sharp fluctuations after taking a series of measures.

To sum up, the Blue Economy has become a promising area for investment as it is considered one of the most important alternatives available for oil exporting and importing countries. Despite the previous challenges, this nascent economy is taking its advanced position on the global economic agenda and will have a say in the coming few years.