Summary: The Economist , Insight Hour 12/05/2020

Title: The post-coronavirus ocean economy: where do we go from here?


This morning, The Economist held the first of 'insight hour' series of live webinars under the topic, The post- coronavirus ocean economy: where do we go from here? Registered attendees: 1000.


Their intent, to continue discussions that would otherwise have been held in March, at the World Ocean Summit 2020, in Tokyo, with ocean stakeholders, politicians, and members of civil society.


I was able to easily access the ‘free’ live discussions and ask questions to high-level industry experts:

· Peter Thomson, UNSG’s Special envoy for the Ocean

· Karin Kemper Global director, environment, natural resources, and blue economy, World Bank

· Lars Robert Pedersen, Deputy Secretary-General, BIMCO.


As a Caribbean based Blue Economy Consultant whose work is focused on creating sustainable and inclusive blue opportunities to island economies, I commend The Economist and Head of the World Ocean Initiative, Martin Koehring for creating this series and making it free to access. This is certainly another, awesome benefit of the new normal.


My goal is to aggregate tools for Island – related stakeholders to make informed decisions on the emerging blue economy. So, I decided, to note some of the key highlights for our wider island community. The morning’s discussion surrounded 3 key questions:

· How is the pandemic affecting plans to build a sustainable ocean economy?

· Will the global economy return to “business as usual” when pandemic-related restrictions ease? What would this mean for the long-term transition to a sustainable ocean economy?

· How can ocean stakeholders restore momentum in advancing the blue economy?


Overview: COVID 19 Implications

· The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts global output to contract by 2.5% this year—a worse result than during the global financial crisis of 2009.

· The World Trade Organisation (WTO) expects global trade to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020

· Covid-19 disrupting supply chains, economic activity, and life around the world.

· B.E sectors affected: shipping, fisheries, and tourism.

Ocean Economy Facts

· 90% of the world’s cargo moves by sea.

· Fish provide essential protein for around 1bn people.

· With billions of people around the globe in lockdown, tourism has come to a halt.

Threats to the Blue Economy

· Possible slow progress in blue finance and investment in ocean energy projects, shipping decarbonization, and aquaculture, as policy priorities, shift towards healthcare and welfare.

Opportunities Blue- Green Stimulus

· EU leaders have called for the continent’s “green transition” to be included in the post-pandemic recovery plan

· European Commission is pressing ahead with its renewed sustainable finance strategy.

· US, a “green stimulus” package has been promoted by activists and academics. Opportunities for the B.E. unclear.

· Recent Oxford study compared green stimulus projects with traditional stimuli, such as measures taken after the 2008 global financial crisis, and found green projects create more jobs, deliver higher short-term returns per pound spent by the government, and lead to increased long-term cost savings. Co-authored by Brian O’Callaghan of the Smith School, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, and Lord Nicholas Stern, the climate economist. Published in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy

How is the pandemic affecting plans to build a sustainable ocean economy?

Lars Robert Pedersen - Deputy Secretary-General, BIMCO

The plight of seafarers :

· The maritime section has been severely hit from the COVID virus

· Over 100, 000 currently stuck on ships and cannot be relieved.

· Crews at home cannot pick up assignments, as a result they are without pay for a considerable amount of time.

· Desperate situation daily for seafarers globally – a human tragedy

Issues affecting shipping industry:

· Shrinking cargo amounts

· Demand disruption - no one is buying anything from raw materials to finished goods

· Passenger transport at sea nonexistent

· Shipping has historically contributed a lot to the economy

Karin Kemper Global director, environment, natural resources, and blue economy, World Bank


· 10% of the global population livelihood is generated from fisheries.

· Logistics challenges have disrupted the value chain, with the post-harvesting value chain being made up of over 50% of women.

· Fishers are not getting fish to market,

· Blue tourism also impacted

Peter Thomson, UNSG’s Special envoy for the Ocean


· Asked that governments allow communication systems to be made available to stranded seafarers, so they can stay in touch with family and loved ones.

Will the global economy return to “business as usual” when pandemic-related restrictions ease? What would this mean for the long-term transition to a sustainable ocean economy?

Will the shipping industry return to business as usual?

Lars Robert Pedersen - Deputy Secretary-General, BIMCO

· Demand-driven industry.

· Excess tonnage in the surface with little to do, affects markets, an imbalance between supply and demand

· 2009 crisis took long to get back to normal

· A new normal - we are having a change in GDP growth and transport growth

· Less demand for shipping for the same increase in global GDP

· ‘New’ new normal - further changes in demand

· Internet/ tech to have lasting behavior on us for seaborne transport

· Slower recovery predicted for shipping than 2009

· Some ships will reach end of life sooner

· Decarbonization: continuing after pandemic - a very long term focus in the industry. Will happen over multiple decades. Happening since 2009

· Energy-efficient pays off in shipping, energy-driven industry

· Only so much can do with low lying fruits, need to get into deeper things, eg. renewable and nature tech to deploy in ocean-going shipping, these options are high costs and take time

· Shipping industry suggests that IMO to establish a fund organized by a board to oversee the green tech fit for the industry paid, by emissions offset

· We are bound to half our emissions by 2050

Karin Kemper Global director, environment, natural resources, and blue economy, World Bank


· Short term: Supporting economic activities that need the support to pick up quickly post covid19 e.g. World Band Project currently in Bangladesh 57 aquaculture farmers getting their product to market. World Bank is supporting them

· Long term- change perverse subsidies in other direction e.g 35bn in 2019 in commercial fisheries only 16% went to small scale (sustainable) fisheries.

· Focusing on how we do subsidy policies going forward. World Bank and World Trade Organization are looking at where fisheries subsidies can go, and how to address over-fishing



Peter Thomson, UNSG’s Special envoy for the Ocean


· Embracing the blue tourism of the future

· Advocates for green-blue recovery funding options –e.g. replanting of mangroves, restoration of coral reefs, fostering of marine spatial plans and MMA’s, where future responsible tourists will want to enjoy

· Renewable offshore energy eg. Offshore wind farms – (Thomson ‘’ offshore energy is where our money should go.’’

· sustainable aquaculture

How can ocean stakeholders restore momentum in advancing the blue economy?

Karin Kemper Global director, environment, natural resources, and blue economy, World Bank


· If policies are implemented, we will see improvements

· Integrated coastal economies in a blue economy way

· Medium to long-term: Work schemes to stave off coastal erosion eg. mangrove planting; helps coastal erosions by future hurricanes erosions

· Offshore renewables - if there is a green stimulus

· More plastics coming to the oceans post-COVID 19 - an impetus to look at waste management systems and how to recycle and what to do as second-line products

· Ocean preservation models such as in the Seychelles

Peter Thomson, UNSG’s Special envoy for the Ocean


· Fiji also has up ocean preservation finance models.

· We must get the message out about blue-green recovery

· Funding will come through we don’t see blue finance being affected

· Offshore renewables and sustainable aquaculture future

· Banks to look at sewage and waste management

· Cusp of paradigm shift - will move away from bunker fuel and move to offshore renewable supply

· Greener shipping will happen sooner than later

Countries like Chile preparing to be a world powers for hydrogen power supply to drive global shipping fleets Lars Robert Pedersen - Deputy Secretary-General, BIMCO

· Shift to local for national supply reasons. The global question is how can we be more resilient?’

· Trends: younger generation attuned to possessing less stuff, before everyone wanted to own everything for themselves.

· Future trend: rent when needed instead of buying and owning everything

· Less consumption in society

· Trend all points to lowering transport demands in the future

· Shipping interlinked to the economy and individuals.


The Blue-Green Transition What case should be made so policymakers see the need to build back better?

· “Speak to the world bank and others who have done the sums. Countries that invest in a blue-green agenda now are better, and will be the winners of the future.’’ ( P. Thomson)

· The blue quotes of the session, came from Peter Thomson; firing on all cylinders, Mr. Thomson’s presentation left me optimistic and energized.

· “Have faith in the ability and power of the world to innovation. We innovate better in times of crisis. We must learn to share better, for people and the planet.” ( P. Thomson)

· “There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, we are currently confined in. We either go on the low road or take the high road. The low road will take us back to the entrance of the tunnel. The high road takes us to the blue-green future. It has challenges, but that is where we want our children to be – a resilient place ruled by sustainability” - (P. Thomson)

Seventy-one (71%) of attendees believed that tourism would be the hardest hit sector in the global economy. But with finance opportunities available and expected to increase for sustainable infrastructure and fisheries, for example, I’m coming off this morning’s webinar feeling that despite the pandemic, the islands’ have a lot to be optimistic about.

Veta Wade

Blue Economy Outreach Consultant, advocating for a bluer future that provides economic opportunities and benefits to coastal communities and those most vulnerable and marginalized. Supporting initiatives and programs that value and protect coastal and marine ecosystems as natural capital, and ensure that activities operate within environmental limits. As an Island Innovation Ambassador, I will be helping to organize and promote the 2nd Virtual Island Summit, aiming to connect 10,000 people from around the world to share and learn about island stories and sustainable development, this year.

#blueeconomy #postcoronavirus #theeconomist

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