Blue Deal


The oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface and play a critical role in regulating the planet’s climate, supporting biodiversity and providing food and livelihoods for about 3 billion people. The oceans also provide vast opportunities for developing countries to build more innovative and resilient economies. A recent report prepared by the UN Trade and Development body UNCTAD’s Trade and Environment Review 2023, which has been presented at the 3rd UN Trade Forum in Geneva earlier this week, calls for a global trade and investment “Blue Deal” to sustainably use the ocean – home to 80 per cent of all life.
The UN report analyses the world’s $3-6 billion ocean economy, and assesses how human activity and multiple global crises have significantly impacted sectors like fishing, seafood, shipping and coastal tourism. This report is a critical step towards understanding and addressing the ongoing environmental challenges facing our oceans and the communities that rely on them. It identifies that the oceans face numerous threats from human activity, including overfishing, pollution, climate change and habitat destruction. The Blue Deal report highlights the interconnectivity of these three sectors, revealing that they are all deeply intertwined and affected by the same underlying factors. One of the key challenges facing the oceans is overfishing. Many fish populations are already severely depleted and many on the verge of extinction, and continued overfishing could lead to their collapse. To address this issue, we need to adopt sustainable fishing practices, such as reducing fishing pressure on vulnerable species, protecting spawning grounds and using more selective fishing methods. Another major threat to the oceans is pollution, which can come from a variety of sources, including agricultural runoff, sewage discharge, oil and chemical spills and plastics. This pollution can harm marine ecosystems and pose health risks to humans who rely on the oceans for food and recreation. Climate change is also having a profound impact on the oceans, leading to rising sea levels, erratic weather patterns, more frequent and intense storms, and ocean acidification. To mitigate these impacts, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon and green economy.
Protecting marine biodiversity is essential for maintaining the health and resilience of the oceans. This can be achieved through the creation of marine protected areas, which provide safe havens for marine life and help to replenish fish populations. Additionally, we need to reduce the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems, such as by reducing plastic waste and minimizing the impact of coastal development. The report highlights the need for governments, businesses, and civil society to work together to develop sustainable fishing practices, protect marine habitats and biodiversity, and reduce pollution and the impacts of climate change. The report also calls for increased investment in research and technology to better understand and manage these complex issues.
The report’s findings are a call to action for all stakeholders to take meaningful steps towards creating a more sustainable and equitable future for our oceans and the communities that rely on them. It is crucial that policymakers prioritize the protection of our oceans and the livelihoods of those who depend on them, and work towards developing a more equitable and sustainable blue economy.