A Sustainable and Equitable Blue Recovery to the COVID-19 Crisis

The new Ocean Panel-commissioned report, ‘A Sustainable & Equitable Blue Recovery to the COVID-19 Crisis’, proposes five priority blue stimulus opportunities that are ripe for immediate investment of stimulus funding.

Prior to COVID-19, ocean-based industries were estimated to contribute 2.5% of world gross value added (GVA) and over 31 million direct full-time jobs. As governments now seek to recover economically from the pandemic with major recovery plans, the ocean economy has been overlooked in stimulus measures. The report underlines that there is an unprecedented opportunity, through global stimulus and recovery responses to the pandemic, to reset and rebuild economic activities in ways that will ensure a more sustainable, equitable and resilient ocean economy.

Coastal and marine tourism, marine transport, wild capture fisheries, and aquaculture have all experienced negative economic and social impact. For ocean-based renewable energy, the economic impact has been neutral. The forecast for offshore wind has remained unchanged for 2021, and offshore wind is making up for slowdown in investment in other clean energy sectors. However, the ocean-based renewable energy sector has faced challenges when it comes to getting personnel on board offshore energy platforms, and in some regions there are potential job losses.

In order to support a sustainable and equitable blue recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, the report proposes five priority opportunities for governments to consider:

  • Invest in coastal and marine ecosystem restoration and protection
  • Invest in sewerage and wastewater infrastructure for coastal communities
  • Invest in sustainable community-led non-fed marine aquaculture (mariculture)
  • Incentivise zero-emission marine transport
  • Incentivise sustainable ocean-based renewable energy

The Ocean Panel states that each proposal has the potential to deliver short-term economic, social and environmental benefits for affected communities and sectors, and at the same time contributing to build longer-term social, economic and ecological resilience. The report also includes a detailed set of additional interventions that can be taken.

The authors encourages governments and both global and domestic financial institutions to invest in projects and programmes that contribute to the recovery of the ocean economy, and identify opportunities to make public finance and debt relief conditional on advancing core national priorities for a sustainable ocean economy. In addition, they should assess the environmental and economic impact of all interventions and either avoid investments that will detract the blue recovery or minimise their impact through additional conditions or requirements.

By Anna Lygre Solvang