You liked Oceans 11? Wait till you see Oceans 2030


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 Arne Hoel / World Bank.

The ocean is a powerful resource and the next economic frontier . WWF estimates that the ocean economy is the 7th largest economy, valued at US$ 24 trillion. With more than 6 million women directly employed in the fishery sector, and global job numbers set to grow to 43 million by 2030, the oceans are roaring. Yet, its natural capital has been systematically undervalued and overdrawn.  According to the Bank’s forthcoming Sunken Billions Revisited report, an estimated US$ 83 billion were foregone in 2012 because global fisheries were not managed at an optimum level. Similar sums could be recovered annually if meaningful reforms are adopted, and overfishing is significantly reduced. It is imperative that countries and citizens make informed decisions on resources, spatial planning and other important factors including the costs of marginalizing poor communities and the loss or degradation of critical habitats.
But oceans are often neglected in the development discourse. Obtaining the SDG 14 goal on oceans was a gargantuan, albeit noble effort. The Financing for Development architecture, the “Life below Water” goal and the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) made in Paris, urge us to capitalize on a new narrative: long-term financing of sustainable ocean economies in a climate change context.
Enter Oceans 2030
This is why the Bank is looking at oceans anew. People who saw our Oceans 2030 banner asked us if George Clooney or Julia Roberts were attending the 2016 Spring Meetings. While neither could make it, 20 Ministers of Finance and their representatives came to the first high-level ministerial dialogue, “Oceans 2030: Financing the Blue Economy for Sustainable Development”
With a cast including Bank VP Laura Tuck and Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea (and COP-21 President), countries tackled complex questions about the ‘Blue Economy’. What’s stopping us from maximizing returns in jobs and GDP from a thriving blue economy with growing natural resource assets? How can we reduce uncertainty and produce sustainable, investable projects? Whether it is Seychelles’s blue bonds, USA on eco-tourism, the ‘Gabon Bleu’ or Colombia’s actions to address the inequality in coastal populations, countries are starting to see the merits of a balanced approach for harnessing the potential and wealth of oceans. They’re looking for ideas, finance, and knowledge to grow sectors like aquaculture, marine tourism especially cruises, marine biotechnology and cancer research.
A Blue Economy Development Framework
Consider the following facts. Half the world lives within 60 km of the ocean and 60% of economic activity happens at the coast ! Should we not reposition the ‘oceans’ as everyone’s business – from fishermen, researchers and hotels to shipping, diplomats and economists? Everyone needs to better understand oceans, its resource base and valuation so we can translate these into real bankable projects and opportunities. With shifting geopolitical tectonics, an increase in trade and demand for food, growing and aging populations exerting greater pressure and now disruptions related to climate change, we need stronger action, coordination and a framework - much like a script for a good Hollywood movie. The Oceans 2030 event precisely built a shared theory of success: a Blue Economy Development Framework (BEDF). The BEDF will aim to provide the capital, convening services and technical assistance needed to grow the blue economy sustainably. Oceans can also be part of the solution for complex problems at the nexus of development, humanitarian concerns and security. Most refugees to Europe—like Ahyan Kurdi, the baby who tragically lost his life during the attempted crossing to Greece - travel by sea. That’s in addition to climate refugees and maritime piracy.
Earth Day is really Oceans Day. Some countries are ‘large ocean states’ with Exclusive Economic Zones  larger than land. Whether you call it the blue, ocean or marine economy, the message is clear. The ocean economy is growing big and fast. Based on our ongoing analysis of Mauritius’ blue economy as well as experiences in other countries, more and more economic activity is coming out of the sea including shipping, ports and logistics, tourism, aquaculture, renewable energy and Deep Sea Bed Mining (this area is not supported by the Bank). Natural resources are over-stretched in some places.
Paris-Mauritius-Marrakesh Ocean Action Agenda
Paris-Dakar is the premier motorcycle race. On land. Now imagine a Paris-Mauritius-Marrakesh race. Where would you do it? Supported by the COP Presidencies, Mauritius and the Bank, we will help countries position oceans and climate in the lead up to COP-22 in Marrakesh, the G-20, the Fiji UN Conference on SDG 14, and beyond. We will support action on climate resilient and low carbon ocean economies, in line with plans such as the Bank’s Africa Climate Business Plan.
Oceans 2030 will be an era of sustainability, effective governance and prosperity. It could be a bigger blockbuster than Oceans 11, and win recognition for leaders who act responsibly and demonstrate stewardship on oceans. Let’s reconnect with the intrinsic value of the sea.  If we can manage the oceans in a sustainable, climate-intelligent way, we could manage the biggest, most complex of public goods. The race of the SDGs to Oceans 2030 has begun and now is the time to be on the right side of history. The world is watching Oceans 2030.


Join the Conversation

Mark T.
May 04, 2016

What an important posting. Is good to see this work is being done. Oceans truly do lie at the heart of sustainable development. And in fact, have for as long as humans have inhabited the earth. Discounting even their fundamental biologic and evolutionary value, they have in the modern era been perhaps the greatest singular environmental and economic resource (or pool of resources) enabling our development, sophistication, and success as a species. Well done to the author for pulling this together and well done to the World Bank for making taking this happen. One can only hope this will build off the considerable work done under the umbrella of the Global Partnership for Oceans, which convened an historic number of partners to move toward the kinds of interventions this current work is proposing.

Mark Richardson
May 04, 2016

Odd that the World Bank should mention Ocean 2030, any notion of a climate business plan, and ocean sustainability in the same news item. Hasn't the World Bank staff yet read recent scientific findings from NCAR and the University of Colorado which show a complete loss of ocean seafood due to a climate change-induced loss of ocean oxygen, which will largely occur globally between 2025 and 2040 (which also means that it is largely too-late to prevent too)?
What impact will the loss of the primary protein of 30-35% of global population have, in-combination with the ongoing rapid loss of agricultural topsoil worldwide, also caused by climate-change, rapid population growth, and water-supply shortages, as it appears to me that we are rapidly forcing ourselves into a tight corner?
If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend reading this study and its findings (among many others such as the recent Shakhova/Semiletov Royal Society peer-reviewed study on Arctic climate change and rapid temperature rise there which also involves the catastrophic release of ruinous amounts of frozen methane).
"Widespread loss of ocean oxygen to become noticeable in 2030s", NCAR/UCAR (2016):…
The East Siberian Arctic Shelf: towards further assessment of permafrost-related methane fluxes and role of sea ice: Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Valentin Sergienko, Leopold Lobkovsky, Vladimir Yusupov, Anatoly Salyuk, Alexander Salomatin, Denis Chernykh, Denis Kosmach, Gleb Panteleev, Dmitry Nicolsky, Vladimir Samarkin, Samantha Joye, Alexander Charkin, Oleg Dudarev, Alexander Meluzov, Orjan Gustafsson: Published 7 September 2015 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A Journal, DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0451
Frankly if we see Arctic temperature rise of 12-15 C above 1880 by the end of the century long before that a catastrophic emission of natural methane will occur there which will rapidly destroy the human race due to massive methane-induced heat-forcing of 268 times that of CO2 over the first 6-8 weeks after emission.
An early taste of what lies ahead was provided yesterday and today in Fort McMurrary, Alberta as yesterday's high temperature there beat the previous record per-date by 31 F or 21 C, quite-likely in-part due to huge amounts of natural methane pouring into the Arctic atmosphere over this past year and especially over this past winter.
As such, global economic sustainability today involves a rapid loss of seafood globally along with global temperatures rapidly becoming unlivable too, causing immense resource wars and massive refugee flows which will destroy any chance of sustainability until a couple billion people reach the shoreline of the Arctic Ocean and realize that their search for any remaining livable land is over.
Say, what do you figure that the permanent loss of half or more of the potential global customer base will have on future economic growth trends? Let's just say that the outcome will be almost the exact opposite of sustainability.

Gerald Spezio
May 23, 2019

Hell on earth has arrived.
Otherwise intelligent & sane people are still mouthing words about sustainability???

May 05, 2016

Great article! We need a strong framework to achieve a sustainable growth of the ocean economy. The earth is cover in more oceans than land, and we need to ensure it's conservation as well as harness its potential in a responsible manner.

May 05, 2016

I was keen to read this blog due to its catchy title. As I read through I see there has been a bias on land vs oceans and pleased the author highlights the big issues ahead. Glad this could be rectified. I hope the World Bank is the best placed organization to make this happen. It would go a long way!