Blue Economy: Unlocking the Potential for Water Security and Prosperity

A carbon-rich coastal ecosystem holds tremendous potential to support global efforts in combating climate change. However, recent challenges such as pollution and conflicts are increasingly casting shadows over the future of water resources worldwide.

The issues can be addressed through appropriate policies and investment. The concept of the blue economy is highly relevant for optimizing the economic benefits of marine and coastal areas while ensuring environmental sustainability.

The term "blue economy" emerged approximately 10 years ago. The World Bank defines the blue economy as an effort to harness environmentally conscious marine resources to support economic growth, well-being, livelihoods, and ecosystem preservation.

The blue economy encompasses various sectors such as fisheries, renewable energy, water transportation tourism, waste management, and climate change mitigation. Each sector must be effectively managed to support the well-being of communities and nations.

Although seawater is not potable, other kinds of uses prove its importance and therefore the marine ecosystems must remain a shared concern. the ocean plays a key role in maintaining the global ecological balance by absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere more effectively than the land ecosystems.

Slowing the Pace of Climate Change

 Climate change, marked by the rising atmospheric temperatures, negatively impacts water resources availability. Global warming accelerates evaporation, leading to a faster depletion of groundwater.

The sea has the capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, triggering an increase in air temperature, and stores it as carbon. About 50% of the total released carbon is absorbed by marine ecosystems. Therefore, the sea plays a crucial role in slowing the pace of climate change.

Scientists stated that more than half of carbon emissions can be stored naturally by coastal and marine organisms or ecosystems. The coastal vegetation is believed to be able to store carbon much more effectively-up to 100 times faster and more permanently compared to land forest.

The ocean's ability to absorb carbon and stabilize the climate depends on the health of its ecosystem components. Therefore, the sustainability of marine ecosystems is crucial for the natural balance of the carbon cycle.

Blue Economy as Solution

A 2021 European Commission report found that blue economy activities significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in 28 European Union countries, both in the short and long term.

At the Archipelagic and Island State High-Level Conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, on October 10-11, 2023, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) highlighted the importance of the blue economy implementation as a strategy of climate change mitigation.

President Jokowi further elaborated that the potential of the blue economy-especially in archipelagic nation-needs to be utilized sustainably in order to become a pillar of growth and improve people's welfare as well as to support marine ecosystem preservation.

The Coordinating Ministry for Investment affirmed that the blue economy contributes an average of 3.6% to Indonesia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). By 2045, the blue economy sector's contribution to GDP is expected to be 12.45%. The projected economic benefits of the sea-based economy in Indonesia are estimated to reach $800 billion USD.

Transitioning towards the Blue Economy

One of the primary strategies for developing the blue economy in Indonesia is the mobilization of incentives and investments. In the long term, Indonesia's blue economy will require a circular economy measures that reduce waste. The investment needed to support these efforts will be substantial.

Blended financing, combining the public and private funding, can be a solution. For example, blended financing from the Global Fund for Coral Reefs has been deployed to transform the seaweed industry in East Sumba.

The 10th World Water Forum, taking place in Bali on May 18-24, 2024, could be an opportunity to foster collaboration between countries, private entities, non-profit organizations, and universities in developing blue economy programs.

The Indonesian government invites all stakeholders to participate in the upcoming 10th World Water Forum. As one of the world's largest water forums, it will discuss various water-related issues, including climate change and sustainable financing.

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