International community must cooperate now to build a safe, sustainable and fair Blue Economy

The vital role of the oceans in creating a low-carbon world is under threat unless governments, businesses and wider society cooperate to improve ocean safety, Lloyd’s Register Foundation has warned.

The Foresight Review of Ocean Safety, from independent global charity Lloyd’s Register Foundation, sets out the urgent challenges facing the oceans which offer great potential in areas such as food and energy, but are poorly governed, over-exploited and largely unmapped. With the blue economy predicted to double by 2030 these issues need urgent action built on international cooperation to make sure future developments are safe, sustainable and just.

The review, led by Professor Mark Cassidy, highlights the importance of new approaches to engineering in delivering a growing ocean economy. Consolidating recommendations from academia, public bodies, and a wide range of relevant industries in Asia, Europe and North America, the review focuses on interventions to engineer a safer and more sustainable future for oceans – and the people and nature dependent on them – as the economic activity they support continues to grow.

The review calls for greater investment in the blue economy and solutions that address rising sea levels, climate change, pollution, labour and safety challenges. These recommendations bring attention to the need for new paradigms of ocean engineering which pursue nature-based solutions that will protect the future of our planet.

A just transition to a low carbon, sustainable ocean economy necessitates investment, education, infrastructure, innovation, and decent, safe jobs. Among the key interventions is the need to urgently characterise the ocean and seabed to enable a wider and deeper knowledge of the deep blue.

Other key interventions include promoting new approaches to ocean education and skills; building better whole system economic tools to evaluate the true costs and benefits of the blue economy to help guide safe and sustainable investments; developing remote sensing, ocean data and autonomous marine machines and creating stronger and more resistant materials for ocean engineering.

Dr Ruth Boumphrey, Director of Research at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said, “In many ways the oceans today are like the old American Wild West – an area overexploited but poorly governed and planned, with limited protections for those whose livelihoods depend on it. We are all citizens of a blue planet and we depend on the oceans for all aspects of life, from the supply chains underpinned by shipping, to the very air that we breathe. We must become better Ocean Citizens, improving our understanding of all aspects of the ocean economy and making better choices in what we buy and build.

“As the world’s population continues to grow, increased demand for food, energy, jobs, transportation and coastal land will put more pressure on an already strained ocean environment. The growth in the Ocean Economy must not be at the expense of biodiversity and those whose livelihoods are made at sea.”