Sri Lanka at­tends first-ever global sum­mit on sus­tain­able blue econ­omy

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - NEWS - By Malaka Ro­drigo

Del­e­gates from around the world gath­ered at Nairobi, Kenya, last week to dis­cuss how to make the emerg­ing ‘blue econ­omy’ sus­tain­able. The gath­er­ing is seen as the first global-level con­fer­ence ded­i­cated to dis­cuss blue econ­omy em­pha­sis­ing the need for sus­tain­able use of oceanic re­sources.

Sri Lanka sent a six-mem­ber del­e­ga­tion that in­cluded of­fi­cials from the Fish­eries De­part­ment who said the dis­cus­sions were very rel­e­vant to Sri Lanka.

The sus­tain­able use of ocean re­sources for eco­nomic growth, im­proved liveli­hoods, and jobs while pre­serv­ing the health of ocean ecosys­tems, has been termed ‘blue econ­omy’-- a pop­u­lar buzz word lately. The sum­mit cov­ered is­sues fac­ing oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and other wa­ter bod­ies.

Fish­eries is what comes to mind as the most im­por­tant re­source that oceans pro­vide. How­ever, as land-based re­sources fast di­min­ish, oceans be­come the last fron­tier that can give an ex­tended life­line for hu­mankind, ex­perts point out. Na­tions have al­ready started ex­plor­ing the oceans for re­sources other than fish, such as min­er­als, oil, gas and other re­sources as well. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports In­dia plans to spend more than $1bil­lion dur­ing the next decade to de­velop and test deep- sea tech­nolo­gies - in­clud­ing hu­man- pi­loted ex­plo­ration sub­marines - in the In­dian Ocean that could give ac­cess to once in­ac­ces­si­ble min­eral riches up to 6.8 miles

(11 km) un­der wa­ter.

While Sri Lanka can ben­e­fit work­ing closely with na­tions who have ca­pa­bil­i­ties in ex­tract­ing re­sources, Sri Lanka should not al­low its re­sources to be over- ex­ploited, point out ex­perts. Sri lanka and In­dia have al­ready locked horns on the is­sue of Tamil Nadu fish­er­men in­vad­ing our wa­ters and em­ploy­ing har mful bot­tom- trawl­ing meth­ods to catch fish. Hav­ing in­ter­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion to solve these kinds of is­sues is im­por­tant, there­fore it is im­por­tant that Sri Lanka makes use of these kinds of sum­mits to tackle trans-bound- ary is­sues strate­gi­cally, the ex­perts add.

Fish­eries De­part­ment di­rec­tor Monty Ranathunga who was a mem­ber of the del­e­ga­tion that at­tended the Nairobi said at the end of the three-day sum­mit eight state­ments, dubbed ' The Nairobi dec­la­ra­tion of In­tent on Ad­vanc­ing Global Sus­tain­able Blue Econ­omy' was is­sued.

Par­tic­i­pants at the sum­mit recog­nised that with pop­u­la­tion growth, de­mand for goods and ser­vices will also grow ac­cord­ingly, and that this will ex­ert ad­di­tional pres­sure on land- based re­sources, which are slowly di­min­ish­ing or al­ready over ex­ploited in many cases and wel­comed the global in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing and con­serv­ing the re­sources of a sus­tain­able blue econ­omy,the of­fi­cial said.

The Nairobi dec­la­ra­tion also stated that with col­lec­tive de­ter­mi­na­tion, and build­ing on ef­forts at lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional lev­els, the global com­mu­nity can in­ten­sify in­vest­ments and har­ness the full po­ten­tial of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to ac­cel­er­ate eco- nomic growth, cre­ate jobs and fight poverty. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, the world can im­prove the health of the oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers and the ecosys­tems they sup­port. The dec­la­ra­tion also recog­nised that science and re­search are cru­cial for pol­icy de­vel­op­ment, im­ple­men­ta­tion and eval­u­a­tion, the of­fi­cial fur­ther said.

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