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MAPping the Future

Toward a new ‘blue’ economy

First of two parts

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) will be held on Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015 in France with more than 120 political leaders attending, including President Aquino.

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At stake is the fate of Planet Earth, which is being threatened by climate change. The expected outcome is a new international agreement aimed at keeping global warming at below 2 degrees Centigrade.

The Philippines is not among the top emitters of greenhouse gas that leads to global warming. But it is one of the most vulnerable to climate change risk. So the challenge before us is: How can we adapt well to climate change risk, as well as help mitigate it, while still working for our inclusive, sustainable development?

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Last Nov. 10, our MAP Committee on Climate Change, Disaster Prevention, and Sustainability (CDS) organized the 2nd MAP Summit on Climate Change by focusing on “Ocean Security and Marine Biodiversity.”

These are essential components of a new “blue” economy, which should be our key strategy to help keep climate change to a more manageable level while also achieving economic growth.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation defines blue economy as the “development approach anchored on sustainable development and utilization of marine resources and ecosystems in the Apec countries.” That means “environmentally and socially sustainable commercial activities, products, services, and investments dependent on and impacting coastal and marine resources,” Stephen Adrian Ross, executive director of Pemsea (Partnership for Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia), explained at our summit.

We can combine this focus on the blue ecosystem with Gunter Pauli’s business model of a blue economy–     one that “allows producers to offer the best products at the lowest prices by introducing innovations that generate multiple benefits” from efficient use of available local resources, not just increased profits. “Innovations” and use of “local resources” are the two important added elements here.

By highlighting or integrating them into the Apec “blue” economy concept, we can move forward to a new “blue” economy, which can satisfy Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 14 “Life below water”—to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.”

Developing a blue economy requires public-private partnership. To ensure business participation in this work, the first task is to make a business case for the blue economy.

These facts could, perhaps, do that: Our planet is about 70 percent water, much of our food comes from the ocean, 80 percent of the world’s commerce travels by sea, 80 percent of tourism are in coastal areas, and, as Summit Speaker and Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Mundita Lim reminded us: “We are at the center of marine biodiversity in the world.”

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But making a business case for marine biodiversity is not as easy as presenting a few facts. (To be concluded)

(The author, director of Asiapro Foundation, served as chair of the 2nd MAP Summit on Climate Change. She is co-chair, MAP. Climate Change, Disaster Prevention and Sustainability Committee; chair, Scientific and Academic Advisory Board, OSI; and member, Board of Advisers, Philippine Navy. Feedback at [email protected] and [email protected] For previous articles, please visit map.org.ph.)

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