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India’s Blue Odyssey: Charting a Course for Global Leadership in the Blue Economy

India, under the spotlight of its G20 presidency, is set to redefine the contours of a resilient and green maritime sector, placing the blue economy at the forefront of its vision. In a world grappling with the challenges of climate change, the G20 leaders’ summit emphasized the imperative of nurturing a sustainable and resilient blue economy.

The Blue Economy’s Significance Unveiled:

With the ocean economy valuing between USD 3 to 6 trillion, it sustains over 3 billion people, particularly in coastal developing countries. As a hub for 80% of global trade, the ocean presents vast potential beyond conventional sectors, extending into ocean-based renewable energy, marine biotechnology, and deep-sea exploration.

However, as development activities rise, so does the threat to ocean health. This has sparked a global focus on transitioning to a blue economy, aligning with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal, ‘Life Below Water,’ aiming to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

India’s Blue Economy Landscape:

India, boasting a 7,517-kilometer coastline, is the world’s second-largest fish-producing nation, supporting 4 million fisherfolk. Maritime industries, trade, ship-building, and cruise tourism contribute significantly to the nation’s economic output, accounting for around 4% of GDP.

Recent policies underline India’s commitment to the blue economy. The Draft National Policy for Blue Economy, launched in 2021, seeks to enhance the GDP contribution of the ocean economy, improve coastal community lives, and preserve marine biodiversity. The Deep Ocean Mission, Maritime India Vision 2030, and the ‘Blue Revolution’ scheme exemplify India’s comprehensive approach to sustainable fisheries and exploration of deep-sea resources.

Challenges and Critiques:

Despite ambitious policies, developmental projects like the Mumbai Coastal Road have faced backlash from local fisher communities. Vulnerability to climate-induced disasters and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions in maritime economic projects remain key challenges.

Addressing Concerns and Paving the Path Forward:

India is making strides in Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), with a framework launched in Puducherry, collaborating with Norway. MSP aims to minimize conflicts and ensure sustainable development by identifying suitable sites for various economic activities. Additionally, the focus on a circular economy model and ecological restoration echoes the need for a holistic approach.

India’s Unique Blue Odyssey: Lessons and Leadership:

Dr. Nilanjan Ghosh from the Observer Research Foundation stresses India’s need for tailored strategies, learning from global counterparts while considering its unique geographical and population dynamics. India, representing the Global South, has an opportunity during its G20 presidency to spearhead a just transition, prioritizing the resilience of vulnerable communities.

Global Insights and Challenges:

Australia, Brazil, the UK, the US, and Russia have established dedicated national ocean policies. The European Union’s Blue Economy Plan, Norway’s Green Shipping Programme, and Denmark’s Towards Zero initiative exemplify diverse approaches. However, the challenges of financing the blue economy and the absence of modern infrastructure persist, particularly for developing economies.

Conclusion: Navigating a Sustainable Blue Future:

As India navigates its blue odyssey, the world watches how it balances economic growth with ecological preservation. Charting a course that learns from global lessons yet carves its unique path, India’s blue economy journey embodies not just economic potential but a commitment to the oceans, communities, and a sustainable future.

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