The New Blue Economy: The Future of Sustainability
The world’s ocean is the world’s life support. Many human activities have defined a negative relationship with the ocean. Simply put: we dump too much bad stuff in, and we take too much good stuff out. The traditional ocean economy—those ocean-based and ocean-related activities from which humans derive economic benefit— did not acknowledge or honor the ocean’s natural services, nor its finite capacity to take human abuse without undermining those services on which we depend. The “new blue economy” is the term of art for identifying those activities that improve the human relationship with the ocean and for aligning our systems of accounting and metrics to both define and enhance our ocean-positive economy. It also allows for us to account for “eco-system services” (provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural) provided by the ocean to plants and animals (including humans). What will it take to define the new blue economy with metrics and definitions that are universally understood? First, the natural services of the ocean must be acknowledged and accounted for. Second, we must define what human activities comprise the “new blue economy,” and integrate those definitions into our standard accounting practices globally. Third, we must act to support and enhance those ocean-positive activities so that we achieve a more sustainable relationship with the ocean so that it can continue to provide the goods and services that sustain us. These steps are under way around the world and can serve as the foundation of a broader effort to truly achieve a positive human relationship with the ocean in ways that success (and enhanced economic, environmental, and human health) can be accounted for, measured, and sustained.
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