Blue economy under spotlight

The country needs a well-equipped crop of professionals to ensure it benefits fully from its blue economy potential.

26 May 2019 | Fishing

Bernard Esau; Minister; Scientists, engineers and people from other disciplines are needed to analyse and advise policymakers on options that we are currently considering nationally and internationally.

Swakopmund

Fisheries and marine resources minister Bernard Esau called on the University of Namibia (Unam), the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and other institutions of higher learning and vocational training to ensure that enough Namibians with a variety of skills on blue economy aspects are developed.

“There is a lot that is happening in the international policy space on blue economy and we need role players to actively participate in this process. Scientists, engineers and people from other disciplines are needed to analyse and advise policymakers on options that we are currently considering nationally and internationally,” Esau told delegates at the opening of a Unam-organised workshop on blue economy at the National Marine Information and Research Centre (NATMIRC) in Swakopmund.

Esau welcomed the establishment and subsequent renaming of a School of Marine Engineering and Maritime Studies in the Erongo region to the School of Marine Systems Engineering.

“I am happy that capacity building for this school has begun, and that Unam is collaborating with the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (Tumsat) and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.”

The minister said the country has blue economy resources which need to be unlocked by skilled Namibians for the benefit of all Namibians.

“Economic growth that is not shared is not sustainable. There should be no silo mentality, or ivory towers on this matter. We must think and act together in order to build an inclusive and well-informed blue economy in Namibia.”

“Blue economy includes all economic activities in the ocean such as fisheries, marine mining, marine energy, maritime transport, marine and coastal tourism, and also emerging areas such as marine biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and under-utilised marine resources such as seaweed.”

He said the concept seeks to integrate three pillars of sustainability, economic development and social inclusion in ocean or aquatic economies.

According to the minister the social inclusion component of the blue economy did not receive the serious attention it deserves and was largely been ignored for many years.

“The sustainability of ocean resources simply means that resources should continue to be available for economic development.”

Esau pointed out that in terms of international policy framework, blue economy is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, particularly SDG 14 on Life below Water.

At regional level, the SADC Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) and the Industrialisation Strategy and Road Map (2015-2063), both identify the blue economy as a potential area for sustainable growth in the region.

At national level, NDP 5 has dedicated a specific chapter on it, with clearly defined desired outcomes and indicators. These include development of a Blue Economy Policy and regulatory framework by 2020, and their implementation by 2022.

Government also established an inter-ministerial committee on blue economy comprising representatives from various ministries with a mirror technical committee currently working on policy and related issues.

“Namibia is an active participant in shaping global policy on blue economy with president Hage Geingob representing the country on a 14-nation High Level Panel (HLP) on Sustainable Ocean Economy aimed at shaping global debate on sustainable ocean economic activities both within and outside Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). The work of this panel will conclude at the UN conference on oceans in Lisbon in 2020.”

Namibia also actively participates in various ocean conferences of the UN taking place in several countries, which are shaping global action on sustainability of the ocean.

“The country is an active participant in the ongoing UN discussion on biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), and applied to the UN International Seabed Authority (ISA) for extension of its seabed by 150 nautical miles, in line with international conventions.”

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