A shared G20 vision for the ocean commons

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    Context

    • India’s G20 presidency would play an important role in promoting individual and collective actions to facilitate the transition towards a sustainable blue economy. 

    G20 countries & significance of oceans

    • The G20 countries together account for around 45% of the world’s coastlines and over 21% of the exclusive economic zones (EEZs)
    • The oceans are the
      • reservoirs of global biodiversity, 
      • critical regulators of the global weather and climate, and 
      • support the economic well-being of billions of people in coastal areas. 
    • Blue economy:
      • The term ‘blue economy’ includes not only ocean-dependent economic development, but also inclusive social development and environmental and ecological security.

    G20 & initiatives for blue economy

    • Over the last decade, the G20 forum has discussed some specific ocean-related issues. These include 
      • The G20 Action Plan on Marine Litter, 
      • The Osaka Blue Ocean Vision, and 
      • The Coral Research and Development Accelerator Platform. 
      • In 2022, holistic discussions on blue economy were initiated at the Ocean 20 launch in Bali. 
    • Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group:
      • About:
        • As part of India’s G20 Presidency, the blue economy is articulated as a key priority area under the Environment and Climate Sustainability Working Group (ECSWG). 
        • The first meeting of ECSWG marks the beginning of constructive discussions within G20 countries for a sustainable future, led by India’s G20 presidency. 
          • This approach is consistent with Prime Minister’s call for the global adoption of ‘Lifestyle for the Environment’ that promotes mindful utilisation over mindless consumption patterns.
      • Aim:
        • The aim is to promote adoption of high-level principles that guide sustainable and equitable economic development through the ocean and its resources, while simultaneously addressing climate change and other environmental challenges. 
    • Significance:
      • The G20 comprises a diverse group of countries with varying national circumstances. 
      • Several G20 members have released their strategies for developing and/or expanding their blue economy. 
      • This forum presents an excellent opportunity to build an effective communication with all stakeholders to share best practices, foster collaborations for advancements in science and technology, promote public-private partnerships, and create novel blue finance mechanisms. 

    Threats & responsibility

    • The ambitious efforts by countries to expand their blue economies are being threatened by intensifying extreme weather events, ocean acidification, and sea level rise
    • Growing marine pollution, over-extraction of resources, and unplanned urbanisation also pose significant threats to the ocean, coastal and marine ecosystems, and biodiversity
    • The inherent inter-connectedness of oceans implies that activities occurring in one part of the world could have ripple effects across the globe. 
      • Therefore, the responsibility of their protection, conservation and sustainable utilisation lies with all nations.
    • Since the blue economy involves a range of stakeholders and affects several other sectors of the national economy, effective and efficient ocean and blue economy governance also presents a significant challenge.

    India’s initiatives the development of blue economy

    • The Government of India has launched bold initiatives to promote the development of a blue economy
      • The Sagarmala initiative promotes port-led development. 
      • The Shipbuilding Financial Assistance Policy encourages domestic shipbuilding. 
      • The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana is actively engendering a ‘blue revolution’ through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector. 
      • The Sagar Manthan dashboard tracks vessels in real-time. 
      • The Deep Ocean Mission explores deep-sea resources in the EEZ and continental shelf as well as development of technology for harnessing them. 
      • India adopted the Coastal Regulation Zone notification to classify and better manage coastal regions and conserve ecologically sensitive coastal and marine areas including ecosystems. 
    • As the host of World Environment Day in 2018, India’s PM gave a clarion call to eliminate single-use plastic. 
      • In 2022, the global community rallied together for a multilateral treaty on addressing plastic pollution
      • The same year, India introduced an amendment to the Plastic Waste Management Rules banning select single-use plastic items and introduced policies for extended producer responsibility in waste management in order to combat plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.

    Way ahead

    • India’s commitment to prioritising oceans and the blue economy under its presidency would ensure continued discussions on this crucial subject and pave the way for future G20 presidencies.
    • The outcomes of this forum must further inform other international negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, etc., that are closely interlinked. 
    • The stewardship of oceans is an investment that will sustain future generations. The spirit of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ must unite the global community for the well-being of our ocean commons.

     

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] The blue economy is articulated as a key priority area under India’s G20 Presidency. Elucidate. Underline initiatives for the development of the blue economy in India.