9 July 2020 - WORLD BANK - “Building back better should go beyond the green recovery that is being spoken about and embrace a “Blue Recovery.”
COVID-19 has brought untold suffering to communities worldwide, compounded by what World Bank estimates suggest will be the worst recession since World War II. Such a cataclysmic event requires a bold response, both in the immediate term by providing medical care and the safety nets needed to prevent people from falling into poverty but also in the longer term. As we work with countries to build back their economies and strengthen their communities, it cannot be business as usual and sustainability needs to be fully built into the recovery. But building back better should go beyond the green recovery that is being spoken about and embrace a “Blue Recovery.” The pandemic struck at a time when oceans are under increasing threat from myriad impacts – ranging from the warming effects of climate change to pollution caused by coastal run-off and marine litter, overfishing and coral reef and biodiversity loss.
Various oceanic sectors have also taken a direct hit in terms of livelihoods, with tourism-heavy coastal areas affected along with the fishing industry. The FAO estimates that around one in 10 people depend, directly or indirectly, on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood, with most employed by capture fisheries working in small-scale operations. Women make up about half of the workforce in the fisheries sector when processing and trading are included.
With so much at stake and so many people depending on oceans for both livelihoods and food, the imperative for healthy oceans is more urgent. Even before COVID-19, estimates were that about 8 million tonnes of plastic waste are dumped into the ocean every year – about a dump-truck a minute. With the increased need for hygiene and protective equipment in response to COVID-19, even more single-use plastics are expected to make their way into oceans. And while GHG emissions have temporarily decreased in the wake of less economic activity, scientists are clear that the impact this slowdown has had on easing global warming will be marginal because the effects of climate change are cumulative and too much damage has been done already.
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