The Blue Economy and the United Nations’ sustainable development goals: Challenges and opportunities

Last modified: 
February 4, 2020 - 10:25am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2020
Date published: 04/2020
Authors: Ki-Hoon Lee, Junsung Noh, Jong Khim
Journal title: Environment International
Volume: 137
Pages: 105528
ISSN: 01604120

The “Blue Economy (BE)” is an increasingly popular concept as a strategy for safeguarding the world’s oceans and water resources. It may emerge when economic activity is in balance with the long term capacity of ocean ecosystems to support the activity in a sustainable manner. Importantly, the concept of BE posits the inherent conflicts between two discourses—growth and development, and protection of ocean resources. The inherent conflicts require solutions to embrace the opportunities associated with the ocean economy while recognizing and addressing its threats. The potential solutions on a global scale are advocated by the United Nations in their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, we notice that the identification of the scope and boundaries of the BE in line with the UN’s SDGs is vague even challenging, and the key stakeholders and their interests and roles in the BE are also vague. This review examines the scientific evidence of the association between the BE and the UN’s SDGs, and relevance and alignment of stakeholders on the link between the BE and SDGs. Based on a literature survey between 1998 and 2018, we find that BE is highly associated with SDGs 14–17. Notably, we find that stakeholders prefer SDG 3 Good Health & Well-Being and SDG 8 Decent Work & Economic Growth in the BE context. As stakeholder involvement shows some differences and variations in the relationship between the BE and SDGs, we consider that stakeholders can play some roles directly or indirectly in the BE-SDGs context. In order to set achievable goals and targets in BE-SDGs, we support that key stakeholders should be identified to play several important roles in prosperous economic, societal development and setting tolerable ranges for the ocean biosphere.

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