Masdar News

‘Blue Economy Summit’ Highlights Importance of Marine Ecosystems in Achieving Global Sustainability

19 Jan 2014

Abu Dhabi, UAE – January 20, 2014: The ‘Blue Economy Summit’ was held today in Abu Dhabi to address the unique climate and sustainably challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and marine ecosystems. With over 70 percent of the world’s surface covered by oceans, protecting the health of marine environments is fundamental to protecting the world’s interconnected economies and long-term sustainability. 

Today’s summit is a continuation of the blue economy concept, which was introduced and debated during the United Nation’s Rio+20 conference held June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. As a result of Rio+20, the blue economy concept – and the urgency to build resilient marine ecosystems – was recognized as a central theme of global sustainable development, climate mitigation and poverty eradication.

“The importance of the Blue Economy to humankind cannot be underestimated: over 70 percent of our planet is covered by ocean; 90 percent of the world’s trade in goods is conducted by sea. Oceans transcend states. They connect us all to each other. And we must harness these connections for development, not just enrichment,” said James Alix Michel, president of the Republic of Seychelles.

“We also need to ensure that the benefits from economic activity in our oceans translate into real benefits for our populations,” added President Michel. “We cannot consider that it is sustainable for certain large industrial fishing fleets to exploit the resources of one sea to the point of exhaustion and then simply move on to other areas. Inclusion, ownership and empowerment of coastal populations are core elements of implementing the Blue Economy.”

The Blue Economy Summit in Abu Dhabi is an important milestone in identifying the right policy frameworks that support the shift of SIDS and coastal regions toward sustainable development. How island nations and ocean-linked communities adopt a sustainable trajectory will again be addressed during the United Nation’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, September 2014, in Apia, Samoa.

“The UAE is working closely with the international community to address sustainable economic growth, global food security, environmental protection and the impacts of climate change,” said H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. “From our fishing to our tourism industry, maintaining the health of our coastlines, mangrove forests and oceans is vital to our economy. 

“Today’s Blue Economy Summit places a renewed emphasis on the critical need to address the long-term sustainability of our international waters,” added Dr. Al Jaber. “We must work together to find the right policy frameworks and commercial opportunities to balance and protect the health of our oceans.”

The Blue Economy Summit, which ran January 19-20, was organized by UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Masdar and in partnership with the government of the Republic of Seychelles. The event was also attended by Lord Tu‘ivakanō, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Tonga, and H.E Dr. The Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, prime minister of Mauritius.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 18-25, is an annual platform to address the interconnected challenges impacting the widespread adoption of renewable energy and the acceleration of sustainable development. The platform includes a series of events: the fourth assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency; the seventh World Future Energy Summit; the second International Water Summit; the first EcoWASTE exhibition; and the sixth Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards Ceremony.