The world’s oceans, seas and coastal areas are the largest ecosystems on the planet and a precious part of our natural heritage. The ocean economy is estimated to be worth USD $24 trillion, and as investors and policymakers increasingly turn to the ocean for new opportunities and resources, this economy has been forecasted to double in size between 2010 and 2030. However, the risks of losses in natural capital resulting from unsustainable activities are continuing to erode the resource base on which such growth depends. We need to raise the bar on our collective ambitions — in government, civil society and the private sector — to ensure that economic activities in our seas are sustainable.
Why it matters
A sustainable blue economy fits within the boundaries of our ocean’s ecosystems. Truly integrated maritime policies, adequate economic and legislative incentives, supportive public and private financial and investment flows, as well as successful implementation of ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) are all important means to help us get there. Healthy ecosystems, well-managed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and good environmental status (GES) must be the basis for sustainable development, not separated from it.
According to a 2020 assessment by the European Commission, the EU’s blue economy generates over €750 billion and employs 5 million people. However, with all EU waters currently failing to achieve good environmental status for assessed fish stocks, paired with a 40% decline in global marine life over the last 40 years, we cannot continue to operate under the guise that the ocean is so vast that human activity cannot affect it.
What WWF is doing
The WWF works with the EU to ensure that the blue economy’s growth is tied to sustainable economies on both land and at sea – that is, an economy that restores, protects and maintains diverse, productive and resilient ecosystems, and that is based on clean technologies, renewable energy, and circular material flows.