The Blue Economy Handbook of the Indian Ocean Region: Chapter Two ("The Blue Economy Theory and Strategy") and Chapter Fifteen ("Climate Change and the Blue Economy of the Indian Ocean")

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-8-2018


Abstract for Chapter 2: "The Blue Economy Theory and Strategy": The term Blue Economy has spread rapidly around the world. It is used to describe an integrated approach to economic development and environmental sustainability that is based on the resources of oceans and coasts. Nations have rather suddenly taken note of the large geographic areas in the form of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) over which they have jurisdiction and begun developing strategies for using these areas. Many attribute this sudden attention on ocean resources and environmental issues to the discussions that took place in 2012 at the United Nations , which both defined an overall vision for sustainable futures and identified specific goals, including those specific to the oceans.1,2,3 This global attention to the Blue Economy has been matched at the national level. Blue Economy policy papers are in various stages of evolution in countries around the world, including many in the Indian Ocean region. Blue Economy strategies have been developed or are under discussion in India,4 Bangladesh,5 Australia,6 Indonesia,7 Mauritius,8 Seychelles,9 East Africa10 and South Africa.11 All these documents draw attention to the unique resources and features of each country or region, but there is a common set of themes in all of these discussions focusing on the economic opportunities to be seized while acknowledging the environmental limitations within which development must take place. These documents may best be described as efforts at awareness building. They are all likely to be effective at encouraging leaders in the public, private, and nongovernmental sectors to pay attention to the opportunities and challenges of the Blue Economy, but there are relatively few papers on the Blue Economy that speak to the practicalities of what specific strategies will be needed to direct actions. Persuading people to act is not the same thing as deciding what action to take. 39 The Blue Economy: Theory and Strategy The fundamental challenge of the Blue Economy is to simultaneously do more and less. The Blue Economy should increase the wealth that a nation derives from its ocean and coastal resources. But to do this, the nation may need to do less of many of the things it is already doing. Increased wealth in fisheries may require reducing fishing to biologically sustainable levels. Exploiting hydrocarbon and mineral resources may increase wealth today, but the effects may be only temporary if portions of the mineral wealth are not saved for the future. The Blue Economy is both a bold vision and an excruciatingly delicate balancing act. This paper proposes a strategic framework and set of specific strategies to transform the Blue Economy idea from goal to action in ways that make it more likely that the appropriate balance will be struck among goals that are both complementary and competing. The framework is independent of economic sector, resource, or region. Its implementation will rest in the hands of multi-national, national and sub-national institutions, which will be responsible for adapting the general strategies to actions to be taken at specific times and places. There are five elements to the framework: (1) Investment, (2) Customers, (3) Management, (4) Innovation and (5) Measurement. The essential feature of the Blue Economy is that all the elements must be addressed simultaneously, although the level of effort devoted to each will vary, as local circumstances require. The following sections describe each of the elements. Investment Investment is the link between the present and the future. It is the deferral of current income (savings) that is then converted into productive use to create new economic values. These values provide returns to the investor and gains to the overall economy. Deciding to forego current consumption for future gain is the fundamental economic process by which restraint and gains are balanced. Capital is the term used, rather ambiguously, for both the pool of savings used to make the investment and the results of that investment. Standard economic models focus on using financial capital (the pool of savings) to create physical capital (the result of investment). Shaping the Blue Economy begins with these types of investment, but recognises that they are insufficient to meet the twin goals of increased wealth and sustainability. In order for those goals to be met, investment in natural capital and human capital is needed.

Abstract for Chapter Fifteen: “Climate Change and the Blue Economy of the Indian Ocean”: The ‘Blue Economy’ is a term that is rapidly spreading around the Indian Ocean region, and the world. It is used to describe opportunities to use ocean and coastal resources to spur economic development and growth in a sustainable manner. Opportunities in fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, tourism and minerals have been identified by countries throughout the region as having significant economic potential, and policies directed at building on this potential (while increasin­ g efforts at sustainable management of resources) are being expanded or developed. But this attention paid to the oceans comes at a perilous time for the very resources upon which so much hope is being placed. Climate change is already affecting the oceans in many ways, and the effects are expected to intensify and expand in the decades ahead. Great plans and investments are being contemplated for oceans and coasts that will, in all likelihood, not exist in their current form within the expected life-span of those investments and plans. These coincident trends of the Blue Economy and the consequences of climate change have both received significant attention on their own, but the attention has largely transpired in parallel discussions. The intersection between the Blue Economy and climate change has received little attention and will require reconsideration of major parts of Blue Economy development strategies, and redefinition of the elements of the Blue Economy itself. It will also require a commitment to developing ways to systematically monitor and understand the interactions as they evolve, because the view today is still too constrained by risk and uncertainty. This paper undertakes a preliminary examination of these intersections as they apply to the Indian Ocean region. Attention to ocean-based economic development 350 CHAPTER 15 is widespread in the region, but it is still in the early formative stage in most countries .1 There is still time to incorporate the implications of climate change into evolving Blue Economy policies, but an understanding of the threats, limitations and opportunities created in the Blue Economy is critical. To examine the implications of climate change for the Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean region, it is first necessary to outline the major elements of the effects of climate change in the ocean and coastal regions in general. The question then becomes how such changes will be reflected in the Blue Economy. This is both a question of how generalised effects that can be foreseen at this stage are to be measured, and how the impact of climate change on the Blue Economy could be identified and tracked. A preliminary identification of some of the policy choices created by climate change is then presented. It should be noted that climate change’s impacts on the region will extend well beyond those described here. Changes in weather and hydrology will alter agriculture and urban areas. Sea level rise will disrupt far more than the Blue Economy, with whole urban regions and even nations at risk. The focus on the relationship between climate change and the Blue Economy is directed at the implications for the development efforts for the Blue Economy; the larger issues of climate change and the Indian Ocean region need to be addressed elsewhere. Climate change and its consequences Understanding climate change and its effects is an exercise in resolving a fundamental paradox. The consequences of adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere in quantities well beyond naturally occurring levels are relatively simple. The physics and chemistry are straightforward. But at the planetary scale, there is great complexity in the interaction of atmospheric and ocean circulation systems. Global average changes can mask significant regional and local variations. Even worse, most of the pace and degree of change is driven by decisions about human action to reduce the emissions of the greenhouse gases and to take other steps to reduce the damage caused by changes in the climate. Put another way, we know that the oceans will become warmer and expand. How much they will warm and expand is a matter of deep uncertainty.

Abstract for Book: The Blue Economy Handbook of the Indian Ocean Region: As humanity enters the Anthropocene epoch the oceans are more at risk than ever before as a result of the increased exploitation of its resources. The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world comprising 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. The sea lanes in the Indian Ocean are among the busiest in the world with more than 80 percent of global seaborne trade in oil transiting through the Indian Ocean and its vital chokepoints and an estimated 40% of the world's offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. The importance of this region cannot be underestimated and there is no doubt that there are many opportunities for economic growth and job creation presented by the waters washing the shores of the Indian Ocean Rim. In order to ensure a desirable future for humanity it is necessary to make use of the ocean's resources in a sustainable and responsible manner. Climate change is affecting the Indian Ocean negatively, placing a strain on the ability to ensure food security and damaging the economies of small island states that depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. Increasing ocean temperatures and ocean acidification are taking a toll on ecosystems. This book is the first of its kind, providing fresh insights into the various aspects and impacts of the Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean Region: from shifting paradigms, to an accounting framework, gender dynamics, the law of the sea and renewable energy, this handbook aims at increasing awareness of the Blue Economy in the Indian Ocean Region and to provide evidence to policy-makers in the region to make informed decisions. The contributions are from a mixture of disciplines by scholars and experts from seven countries.


Dr. Charles Colgan, Director of Research at the Center for the Blue Economy, authored two chapters in the newly published Blue Economy Handbook of the Indian Ocean Region.

In Chapter two, “The Blue Economy :Theory and Strategy,” Dr. Colgan proposes a strategic framework and specific set of strategies to make the sustainable Blue Economy concept actionable. It covers five key elements: investment, customers, management, innovation, and measurement. Chapter fifteen, “Climate Change and the Blue Economy of the Indian Ocean,” explores two convergent trends: increased attention and resources devoted to developing the Blue Economy, and the rapid changes evident in the worlds oceans.

Website for book: Project MUSE - The Blue Economy Handbook of the Indian Ocean Region (jhu.edu)