In Focus

Blue Economy of Pakistan: From Concept to Practice

Pakistan’s Blue Economy is of vital importance for not only strengthening its maritime economic base to uphold its geoeconomic strategy, but also materialize this concept to develop Pakistan as a coastal state with respect to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Gwadar Port. Considering its significance, the prospects of Blue Economy are massive for Pakistan’s sustainable development and socioeconomic growth.

Blue Economy, a term which has taken over the world in 21st century, has emerged as a significant solution to the economic instability and misfortunes for all developing coastal countries. There is an undeniable relation between humans and oceans. In the beginning, the mankind started exploring the seas and oceans for food and later, traversing the seas became a source of gratifying the human inquisitiveness to get to the unseen lands and discover new resources. With the passage of time, human reliance over the oceans has increased unfathomably. The coastal and littoral states are utilizing this geographical realm to attain multiple national objectives and interests. Undeniably, seas and oceans have proved to be a source of massive support for the socioeconomic growth and development, spread of humanity, civilizations, languages, weather, religions, communication, economy, trade, technology, knowledge and crime, therefore, developing a global network of communication with massive impact on the state and world economies. Such is the potential of oceans becoming a major attraction for states as a reality that has given birth to the concept of Blue Economy.
The concept of Blue Economy is essentially derived from all the economic activities which can be carried out onshore and offshore. Yet, there are other realities too, which have been made a part of the definition of this concept. This realization has changed states’ limited vision about the concept of seas from ‘sea blindness’ to ‘sea awareness’. Dr. Gunter Pauli was the first person to work on the concept of Blue Economy in a scientific and coherent way in 2004. His book, The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 Innovations, 100 Million Jobs changed the world for economists, academics, and policymakers. Fundamentally, this concept was a Blue Economy business model with a significant composition of ‘capability to shift from scarcity to abundance with locally available resources while preventing environmental and related problems in new ways.’ 
Blue Economy as a term is defined in different but interconnected ways. In 2012, World Bank has defined it as “Sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” According to the Commonwealth of Nations, “an emerging concept which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or 'blue' resources.” The Conservation International includes ‘economic benefits that may not be marketed, such as carbon storage, coastal protection, cultural values and biodiversity’ in Blue Economy, whereas, the Center for the Blue Economy explains it as “a widely used term around the world with three related but distinct meanings that is the overall contribution of the oceans to economies, the need to address the environmental and ecological sustainability of the oceans, and the ocean economy as a growth opportunity for both developed and developing countries.” 

Pakistan being a coastal state, is working on establishing a coherent approach to utilize its maritime economic base. Particularly after the development of Gwadar Port, the initiation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has opened new vistas for Pakistan regarding maritime-related economic opportunities and businesses.

Basically, the concept of Blue Economy has been established on three pillars which include: economy, society, and ocean environment. The economy involves growth and development based upon the onshore and offshore economic base. Society entails equity and equality based approaches towards different societal groups for opportunities, provision of social services, and socioeconomic growth. Lastly, the ocean environment ensures the use of all the above-mentioned opportunities, policies, and resources with particular emphasis on clean and healthy oceans, sustainability, biodiversity, and renewability of all living and non-living resources of ocean-related economic bases. This has established a broad spectrum of activities in different sectors which can change the socioeconomic conditions of states. 
Pakistan has a long coastline of approximately 990 km with the principle of straight baseline, and 1046 km along with the actual fringed coastline. This coastline has immense potential to boost the state economy through exploring its maritime resources as the linchpin of Blue Economy. The geography of this coastline, starting from Sir Creek in Sindh and ending at Jiwani in Balochistan, is naturally favorable to the Blue Economy. These economic opportunities can be diverse due to geographical realities, i.e., naturally deep sea, which can support in developing new ports and harbors to increase the shipping activities connecting the rimlands to hinterlands; weather to support the source of alternative energy production like tidal, wind and solar energy; wetlands hosting the migratory birds and rare species of marine life; the beautiful beaches with natural wonders made with sediment rocks and mud volcanos as a tourism attraction; appropriate places to establish industries, particularly the ones which can help in converting the local economic opportunities into marketable economies such as fishing and local seafood catch, cottage industries of local artistry, net marketing skills, boat making and fish processing plants; ship building, ship breaking and related industries, which can bring in capital to the state economy. 
Pakistan being a coastal state, is working on establishing a coherent approach to utilize its maritime economic base. Particularly after the development of Gwadar Port, the initiation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has opened new vistas for Pakistan regarding maritime-related economic opportunities and businesses. The concept, which was once an aspiration to materialize the maritime potential of Pakistan in the context of Blue Economy and its inclusion in the national policymaking, has now become a well-articulated and an established idea, aimed at being brought into practice in Pakistan. There are opportunities as well as challenges linked with the Blue Economy of Pakistan which need to be addressed to make it an effective strategy for converting this concept into practice. There is a need to work on removing the hurdles and facilitating the businesses under the sectors of Blue Economy, as it suggests a pertinent solution to strengthen the national economy, and to shift the national reliance from land to maritime economy as the contemporary solution, which will open new vistas for better socioeconomic growth and sustainable development of the state’s economy. Furthermore, it will also benefit the local communities through capacity building of the youth to accrue their stakes in the national interest of Pakistan.

The writer is working as Assistant Professor at the Department of International Relations, National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]

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