- The Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) will chair SAI20, the Engagement Group for Supreme Audit Institutions (SAls) of G20 countries in Goa in June. Two priority areas have been selected for SAI20 deliberations — blue economy and responsible Artificial Intelligence.
What is the blue economy?
- According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.”
Significance of blue economy
- Blue or ocean economy’s global annual value is an estimated $2.5 trillion.
- About 90 per cent of global trade is carried out through sea routes.
- The blue economy encompasses an array of coastal activities, including fishing and tourism.
Challenges in blue economy
- In the context of India, studies indicate that hazards of cyclones and sea-level rise are likely to be higher in the coastal regions.
- According to a study, GIS maps from the European Space Agency indicate that 15 percent of India’s coastal areas have witnessed changes between 1992 and 2018 due to agriculture, depleting forest cover and urbanization.
- The population living along the country’s coastal areas is expected to rise from 64 million in 2000 to 216 million by 2060.
- The measurement of the blue economy is challenging due to conflicting definitions and issues related to classifying different sectors and sub-sectors.
- Existing international economic classifications are unable to properly differentiate between land-based and ocean-based activities. Even the System of National Accounts (NAS) does not provide a clear understanding of the blue economy.
Initiatives to boost blue economy
Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles
- In 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had for the first time laid out the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles.
- It is a framework investors can use to fund ocean-based industries.
- Financiers can use it as a reference point to see how marine investment can impact livelihood and poverty eradication.
National Blue Economy Policy
- India has marked the blue economy as one of the 10 core sectors for national growth.
- A National Blue Economy Policy that aims to harness maritime resources while preserving the country’s rich marine biodiversity has been prepared by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Contribution of CAG to blue economy
- India’s CAG aims to help create a framework for G20 nations to ensure inter-generational equity and mitigate climate change while developing ocean resources.
- The CAG will prepare technology-driven tools to assess authorized development in coastal stretches and track marine water quality as a chair of SAI20.
- Setting compliance standards and a national accounting framework for the blue economy is a long-term priority for the CAG.
- The CAG tabled its Conservation of Coastal Ecosystem report in Parliament.
- It contained its observations on how the Coastal Regulation Zone notification for 2011 and 2019 have been implemented between 2015 and 2019.
- It looked at the underlining efficiency of development drivers such as project clearances, construction activity, institutional capacity to curb land and forest violations, community livelihood support mechanisms, as well as mitigation management plans to conserve biodiversities such as mangroves and near-shore coral reefs that protect us from weather vulnerabilities like storms and coastal floods.
- The audit resulted in focused recommendations to help improve the CRZ ecosystem.
- A new accounting framework is needed that can objectively identify production, trade, and services related to the various segments of the blue economy.
- The executives should be adequately equipped with infrastructure, especially ICT hubs in place for early warning systems.
- The development of disaster-resilient infrastructure is need of the hour as th coastal ecosystems are vulnerable to various disasters like typhoon, hurricane etc.,