The concept of the blue economy has recently gained much traction, especially in coastal countries like Bangladesh. With the world moving towards sustainable development, the blue economy has emerged as a promising pathway for coastal resilience in Bangladesh. This article delves into the concept of the blue economy and its potential to build resilience in Bangladesh’s coastal regions.
The blue economy is a term used to describe a sustainable ocean-based economic development model. It is based on the principles of sustainable use and management of ocean resources, which include fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, renewable energy, and coastal infrastructure development. The blue economy aims to promote economic growth while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.
Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the country’s coastal regions are particularly at risk. Rising sea levels, increasing salinity, and more frequent natural disasters like cyclones and storm surges have made life difficult for millions living in these areas.
The traditional livelihoods of these coastal communities, which mostly revolve around fishing and agriculture, are also under threat. This is where the concept of the blue economy comes into play. By focusing on the sustainable use and management of ocean resources, the blue economy can help create new economic opportunities for these coastal communities while preserving the ocean ecosystem’s health.
The blue economy can help the diversification of livelihoods; by promoting the sustainable use and management of ocean resources, such as aquaculture and tourism, the blue economy can help create alternative sources of income for these communities, thereby reducing their dependence on vulnerable livelihoods.
Mitigation efforts can also have positive impacts on coastal communities in Bangladesh. For example, cultivating mangroves and other coastal vegetation can provide a buffer against sea-level rise and storm surges. At the same time, the development of renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind and tidal power, can reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
The development of coastal infrastructure, such as ports and marinas, can improve the resilience of communities to natural disasters. Construction of seawalls and other coastal protection measures can help reduce the impact of waves and flooding, while the provision of emergency response equipment and early warning systems can help communities better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
The blue economy can also contribute to preserving marine biodiversity, which is essential for the long-term health of coastal ecosystems and the communities that rely on them. By promoting sustainable fishing practices, such as using fishing gear that minimizes bycatch and establishing marine protected areas, the blue economy can help ensure that the ocean resources that communities depend on are protected for future generations.
However, to realize the full potential of the blue economy in Bangladesh, certain challenges must be addressed. These include developing adequate institutional frameworks, capacity building, and financial resources to support development.
Moreover, there must be a concerted effort to ensure that the benefits of the blue economy are shared equitably among all members of the coastal communities, including women and marginalized groups. The government, private sector, and civil society must work together to promote the blue economy in Bangladesh.
Manjurul Islam works as a Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning Expert at HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation under the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Programme. His research interest lies in climate change adaptation, loss and damage, food and water security, migration, and disaster risk reduction