Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia and Rajni Bakshi were part of a FICCI Task Force on Blue Economy. The task force released a report titled: Blue Economy Vision 2025: Harnessing Business Potential for India Inc and International Partners
Blue Economy Vision 2025: Harnessing Business Potential for India Inc and International Partners is a pioneering effort by FICCI to sensitise India Inc about the growing global and regional emphasis on sustainability of harnessing the ocean resources. It makes a convincing argument that the oceans, with a current estimated asset value of US$ 24 trillion and an annual value addition of US$ 2.5 trillion, would continue to offer significant economic benefits both in the traditional areas of fisheries, transport, tourism and hydrocarbons as well as in the new fields of deep-sea mining, renewable energy, ocean biotechnology and many more, only if we integrate sustainable practices with our business models.
With land-based resources depleting fast, there would be renewed attempts to further expand economic exploitation of the world’s oceans. However, if not managed sustainably, growing economic engagement with the oceans could risk further aggravation of their already strained health with serious impact on their natural role as the single most important CO2 sink and replenisher of oxygen. This, in turn, could accelerate global warming with catastrophic effects on fish stocks, climatic stabilisation, water cycle and essential biodiversity.
Global campaign for sustainable harnessing of the oceans, initially spearheaded by the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), has been gaining momentum for a more rigorous regulatory framework. This has led to the concept of Blue Economy which calls for harnessing of the oceans without undermining their sustainability in any manner.
With its geostrategic position in and critical dependence on the Indian Ocean, India has been leading the Blue Economy discourse at the highest level, with a greater focus on the Indian Ocean region. The essence of this approach was spelt out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for seeking “Security And Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR).
Harnessing Business Potential for India Inc and International Partners. The success of the Indian approach for optimising the benefits of Blue Economy will essentially depend on the timely preparedness of the business community, whereas lack of readiness could entail heavy costs by way of losing business opportunities, dependence on others for strategic technologies, and new barriers to market access.
FICCI took the lead in carrying out an objective and direct assessment of this new paradigm with all relevant stakeholders by setting up a Task Force of domain experts and business leaders led by Ambassador Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow, Gateway House and an acknowledged expert in the field, who have carried out extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders, especially the business community. Their efforts over the last nine months have produced this compact Knowledge Paper with specific sections devoted to the scope, emerging regulatory framework, risks of status quo and real business opportunities in India and the region.
For transforming ideas into actions, the Knowledge Paper makes specific and actionable recommendations for time-bound follow up by all public and private sector stakeholders. It essentially calls for a Gandhian approach of balancing economic benefits with sustainability for meeting the broader goals of growth, employment generation, equity and protection of environment. Given the scale, diversity and sensitivity of working with the oceans, the Task Force seeks well-integrated Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with sound policy instruments. The need for developing technical know-how and skills, both domestic and in collaboration with global partners, has been strongly emphasised, especially for deep-sea operations. For optimal impact, Blue Economy must engage businesses from all segments – large, medium and small – in their niche capabilities. For specific follow up, theTask Force has recommended a National Conclave in 2017, followed by an International Conference in 2018 for identifying precise business opportunities and matching capabilities with needs.
In preparing the Knowledge Paper, the FICCI Task Force has drawn leading experts from Gateway House, IDSA, National Maritime Foundation, Observer Research Foundation, Research and Information System for Developing Countries, IORA Secretariat, MicroTech Global Foundation and the Indian business and media community. The Knowledge Paper, which has a sharp business focus, will be shared with all stakeholders.
You can download the PDF version of this paper, here
Rajiv Bhatia is Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House.
Rajni Bakshi is Gandhi Peace Fellow, Gateway House.