Healthy oceans should be a global priority
Though the SDG-14 aims to achieve 'Life Below Water: Sustainable Fishery and Preservation of Oceanic Biodiversity', this is well beyond what is being done currently. At the moment, India is simply using the oceanic energy resources.
However, the Blue Economy is a key growth driver for a quest for economic exploration and acceleration, said Mr. Rattan P. Wattal, Member – Secretary Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, Niti Aayog, speaking at a plenary session at the World Sustainable Summit Development 2020 (WSDS 2020), organised by The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI). An OECD 2016 study estimated that the gross value added to global output from the blue economy would double between 2010 and 2013, and India has diplomatic dialogue at various fora, he added. This thinking has been captured in an acronym coined by the PM - SAGAR 'Security and Growth for All in the Region'.
The significance of the blue economy should inform India's foreign relations, he said. While India's Look East policy prioritises developing strong relations with South East Asian nations, India must also also explore regional associations such as Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Mekong Ganga Cooperation for dialogues and exchange of best practices.
Presenting Norway's globally renowned Blue Economy best practices, His Excellency Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Ambassador of Norway to India emphasized that the nation is today heavily dependent on marine resources for industries, seafood, maritime transportation, offshore energy and employment. In 2019, Norway has made 374 new commitments totalling to $63 billion in areas of climate change, pollution, and fisheries.
India, too, has prioritised the Blue Economy. Budgeted at Rs. 8000 crores, the Ministry of Earth Science's Deep Earth Mission aims to explore the deepest recesses of the ocean over the next five-years. A major thrust of the mission will also be to explore metals and minerals and generate electricity from offshore wind energy. To further Blue Economy ambitions, an institutional framework will be needed to work between countries and unlock more investment in science and technology, Mr Wattal added.
There was general consensus that India is focused on advancing the blue economy agenda in the national, regional and global governance framework. With sustainable development as one of its pillars, the Blue Economy agenda will provide the much-needed mechanisms and measures to conserve and protect oceans while enhancing their economic value.