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