UNCTAD 14: Harnessing the blue economy for sustainable economic growth and development

Posted on: August 02, 2016


In the framework of the quadrennial UNCTAD Ministerial Conference, the ACP Secretariat in collaboration with the ACP-EU TBT Programme, ACP-EU TradeCom II Programme and the CTA organised a side-event on the blue economy and its prospects for the ACP.

H.E. Dr Patrick I. Gomes, Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States, moderated the discussions with the high-level panel of speakers including Mr. Guillermo Valles, Director of the Division on International Trade in Goods, Services, and Commodities, UNCTAD; Mr. Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism of the Government of Fiji; Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of Regional Integration and Trade Division, UN ECA.

H.E. Dr Gomes opened the panel underling the crucial importance of the blue economy for the ACP States and its potential as source of development, economic growth and job opportunities. Blue economy includes fishery, aquaculture, tourism, transportation and energy and is now part of the development agenda of many ACP countries.

Mr. Koya stressed out how the marine resources are pivotal to the island countries as the seas are their most precious resource. The blue economy represents a great opportunity for present and future generations and it is therefore essential to Fiji and the Pacific region to preserve the oceanic and coastal system and to put in place a sustainable management of the marine resources so to maximise economic returns and to ensure preservation and conservation.  

Mr. Guillermo Valles draw the picture of ACP countries and the use of ocean and inland water resources. Among the 79 ACP States, 64 are coastal states and nearly all SIDS (Small Island Developing States) are ACP members. However, fish accounts for only 2% of ACP goods exports and ACP fish exports are only 4% of world total. Two main facts contribute to this situation: firstly, large part of the fish caught in ACP waters is by foreign nations and reported by those nations as their own exports. Secondly, fishing capacities of many ACP countries is often far lower than developed countries. The reduction or elimination of fishery subsides by developed countries could help in leveling this uneven situation.

Mr. Karingi focused his intervention on the African perspective of the blue economy also referring to a recent UNECA publication of a Policy Handbook on Africa’s Blue Economy. The main aim of this handbook is to provide a guide on how to mainstream the blue economy into continental, regional, and national policies, plans, laws, regulations, and practices for the development of African sustainable blue economy strategies. The fact that the blue economy spans a number of different sectors, with significant potential synergies, provides positive incentives for moving toward better integrated legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks. At present, policy incoherence, weak enforcement, and legislative gaps contribute to the fragility of existing frameworks. Therefore the establishment and development of effective legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for the blue economy are crucial steps toward structuring and guiding its growth and ensuring its sustainable dimension.

An animated Q&A time followed the panelists’ presentations. Representatives from Haiti, Namibia, Kenya and other ACP countries took the floor to contribute with examples from their national perspectives and to exchange views and experiences.  It has been recalled that the African Union has established the July 25 as the African Day of Seas and Oceans to sensitize the key stakeholders to the sustainable use and the preservation of the maritime resources.

In conclusion, the panel has underlined the strategic importance of the blue economy and the urgency of a global governance for the sustainable management of the ocean and inland water environment. ACP countries can play a key role and contribute in shaping international blue economy governance and moving towards more effective and better enforced frameworks.

Read here the UNCTAD brochure



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