A webinar was held to discuss possibilities for a robust ‘blue’ recovery in Asia and the Pacific

On Thursday, 23 July 2020, the webinar “Ensuring a robust ‘blue’ recovery in Asia and the Pacific” was organized as a part of the World Ocean Summit Insight Hour webinar series, jointly organized by the Ocean Policy Research Institute of The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, The Nippon Foundation, and the Economist Group. The webinar was organized to commemorate Japan’s Marine Day national holiday and to promote international dialogues with world leaders on the challenges many countries around the world face in supporting and reviving their ocean economies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers explored what opportunities were offered by the economic pause to ignite a sustainable blue recovery and bolster policies for a sustainable ocean in Asia and the Pacific, and how these could be practically realized.

Mr. Charles Goddard, Asia Pacific Editor of The Economist, presented the overall objective of the webinar series and the 1st webinar by underlining the need to fill the gap in high level ocean policy dialogues and the potential for facilitating economic recovery through a sustainable ocean based economy or blue economy, referred to as a “blue recovery.” Dr Atsushi Sunami, President of The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) and President of the Ocean Policy Research Institute of SPF, underlined the fact that the international community faces mounting ocean risks and that their impacts are now coupled with the COVID-19 calamity; he also emphasized the merits of capitalizing upon the potential of a blue economy as a way to facilitate socio-economic recovery amidst COVID-19.

(left) Mr. Charles Goddard, Asia Pacific Editor The Economist, (right) Dr. Atsushi Sunami, President, Sasakawa Peace Foundation/President, Ocean Policy Research Institute of SPF.

Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation, stated that the world faces grave threats to its survival today not only from the COVID-19 pandemic but also from the vexed state of mother ocean, who supports all life on planet Earth, due to the disordered use of the ocean by humans. Mr. Sasakawa stated that the Nippon Foundation has long grappled with the ocean crisis based on its founding principle, “One world, one family,” by carrying out activities that cut across politics, philosophy, religion, ethnicity, and national borders. He underlined, that, just as we are supported by the ocean, we must bolster efforts to protect the ocean around the world.

H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President, Republic of Palau recalled Palau’s National Marine Sanctuary Act, enacted in 2015 and revised in 2019, that created its large-scale marine protected areas. He said that its implementation was facilitated by the support of Chairman Sasakawa and The Nippon Foundation, and expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Abe of Japan for providing support for Palau’s efforts to promote a sustainable blue economy.

(left) Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation, (right) H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President, Republic of Palau.

Ms. Armida Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary, UNESCAP, stated that it is vital to use data, statistics and ocean accounts for conserving the marine environment. Ms. Alisjahbana also called for enhanced regional and sub-regional cooperation in areas such as smart technology and circular economies as a way to resolve ocean risks and challenges.

Mr Tatsuhiko Kashimura, Managing Director, Refinverse, Inc., introduced the business model of his company, which promotes the recycling of used fishing nets. Mr. Kashimura said that his company operates on a small scale in recycling fishing nets, but he expressed his hope that the operation could be expanded to have more on-site collaboration and to create job opportunities with the local fishery sector and stakeholders, and be replicated internationally.

(left) Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), (right) Mr. Tatsuhiko Kashimura, Managing Director, Refinverse, Inc..

Dr Sunami considers innovation as an engine for a blue recovery. He said that science, technology, and innovation must be promoted. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development spearheaded by UNESCO provides a useful impetus. Blue Finance is also indispensable, and it is important to gear finance in ocean sectors towards addressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations.
The polling questions that were conducted during the webinar revealed that almost 50% of the audience considers the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 as severe, and 40% considers them moderate. To facilitate a blue recovery in ocean sectors including fisheries, maritime, tourism, and energy, many consider finance as the most important factor, followed by access to technology and partnerships.
Throughout the discussion, Mr. Goddard captured a number of key perspectives of a blue recovery, such as the transition towards achieving sustainable fisheries, decarbonization in maritime sectors, and sustainable tourism. He also highlighted the importance of regional and international cooperation in the areas of data sharing on the marine environment and elimination of marine plastic. He considers it important to foster partnerships to promote a blue recovery through increasing conservation efforts and sustainable use of the ocean and marine resources.

A detailed report is available here.