Ocean Action Hub

28 Nov 2018 - Background paper prepared by UN Habitat for the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference 2018 in November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Key messages: 

  1. The Blue Economy encompasses all waterbodies, including the world’s oceans, lakes, rivers and wetlands. Inland cities are affected as much as coastal or island cities.
  2. Cities are at the forefront of the Blue Economy. Many urban centres are located along coasts and waterfronts around the world. Cities must recognize the value of their natural capital, including their waterbodies.
  3. Harnessing the potential of cities to benefit from the Blue Economy – such as sustainable livelihoods, green and blue job creation, sustainable housing and infrastructure, waste management, ecological protection and restoration of coastal and waterfront areas.
  4. Integrating urban planning and marine spatial planning must be a priority for Blue Economy. Bringing together spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) through the development of integrated coastal and marine spatial plans (CMSP) are therefore important steps to guide national government policy-makers, local government officials, marine protection experts and other civic stakeholders.
  5. Governance arrangements of coastal, marine and other waterbody environments must be harmonized for better economic, social and environmental outcomes. These must go along with appropriate institutional priorities, goals, plans and actions on all levels of government.
  6. Anticipating, mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change is an essential component of the Blue Economy. National and local investments in infrastructure, community resilience and environmental protection must be complemented by shared global and regional principles, strategies and priorities. Improving countries’ and cities’ readiness to access international climate funds will become crucial in developing a Blue Economy.
  7. Resilient urban planning and design, and low-carbon plans for infrastructure and basic services are needed to promote local economic development and to protect cities from further contributing to environmental degradation – paying special attention to water management, wastewater, oceans and marine pollution.
  8. Prosperity is a key driver of healthy and sustainable Blue Economies. Without the full engagement of women, youth, and other marginalized groups, these economies will not work to their optimal level.
  9. Restoring and protecting coastal and other water ecosystems will be crucial for both cities – in terms of strengthening their resilience to climate-induced shocks – and oceans. Often, the most vulnerable and poorest populations that live in informal settlements are least prepared, will be most deeply affected, and take longest to recover.
  10. Investments in data, science and cutting-edge technology will be critical in supporting governance prioritization, reforms and shaping management decisions to achieve sustainable ‘blue’ transformations.
  11. More scientific research is needed to draw the linkages between cities and the Blue Economy, in terms of cities as hotspots of vulnerability, as well as drivers of sustainable development.
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Publication date: 
Publication Organisation: 
UN Habitat
Thematic Area: 
The Blue Economy