The Ocean Economy in 2030

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27 Apr 2016
9789264251724 (PDF) ;9789264251717(print)

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This report explores the growth prospects for the ocean economy, its capacity for future employment creation and innovation, and its role in addressing global challenges. Special attention is devoted to the emerging ocean-based industries in light of their high growth and innovation potential, and contribution to addressing challenges such as energy security, environment, climate change and food security.
The report examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.  Finally, and looking across the future ocean economy as a whole, it explores possible avenues for action that could boost its long-term development prospects while managing the use of the ocean itself in responsible, sustainable ways.


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  • Foreword

    The ocean economy is essential to the future welfare and prosperity of humankind. It is a key source of food, energy, minerals, health, leisure and transport upon which hundreds of millions of people depend. However, the maritime industry landscape is poised to undergo a profound transition. Long considered the traditional domain of shipping, fishing and – since the 1960s – offshore oil and gas, new activities are emerging that are reshaping and diversifying maritime industries.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    For many, the ocean is the new economic frontier. It holds the promise of immense resource wealth and great potential for boosting economic growth, employment and innovation. And it is increasingly recognised as indispensable for addressing many of the global challenges facing the planet in the decades to come, from world food security and climate change to the provision of energy, natural resources and improved medical care. While the potential of the ocean to help meet these challenges is huge, it is already under stress from over-exploitation, pollution, declining biodiversity and climate change. Realising the full potential of the ocean will therefore demand responsible, sustainable approaches to its economic development.

  • An overview of the ocean economy: Assessments and recommendations

    This chapter summarises the key findings of the report and offers a set of recommendations to strengthen international co-operation in the sustainable management and development of the ocean economy of the future. It puts forward a working definition of the ocean economy which encompasses not only the ocean-based industries but also the natural assets and ecosystem services that the ocean provides. Focusing on the ocean industries, the chapter outlines the findings of the OECD Ocean Economy Database and briefly presents the estimates of the current value added and jobs provided by the ocean economy worldwide. Turning its attention to the future, the chapter describes the principal forces driving the ocean economy forward, and estimates value added and employment in the global ocean economy by 2030. The results suggest rapid growth of most ocean industries over the next couple of decades, putting increasing strain on the ocean environment and its resources and posing significant challenges to ocean management. The chapter ends by proposing a set of recommendations for governments, business and research which could significantly enhance sustainable ocean management.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Global trends and macro-factors influencing the ocean economy

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    • Global trends and uncertainties to 2030/2060

      The ocean economy is key to the future welfare and prosperity of humankind. But unsustainable use of the ocean and its resources threatens the very basis on which much of that welfare and prosperity depend. This chapter briefly outlines a range of critical global factors and underlying changes which, individually and in combination with one another, are playing their part in shaping the overall context within which the balancing act between ocean use and sustainability is likely to evolve over the coming decades. It is not the aim of this chapter to forecast the future or present a particular scenario. Projections and scenarios are developed elsewhere in this report. Rather, this chapter provides a backdrop for the report’s discussion of future developments in the ocean environment and the ocean economy. It draws primarily, but not exclusively, on OECD materials to discuss key demographic, economic, social, environmental, technological and governance trends, as well as major uncertainties and risks, which could influence world developments and, by extension, that of the ocean economy.

    • Expected changes to the ocean environment: Impacts on the ocean economy

      The aims of this chapter are to: take stock of the scientific literature on the current state of the world’s ocean and its likely evolution to around 2030/50; indicate how current and future pressures and drivers, such as climate change, warming ocean water, acidification, deoxygenation, overfishing and pollution physically change the ocean environment and marine ecosystems and directly affect the economic potential of ocean-based activities; and explore some of the potential implications of those changes for biomass and biodiversity and the ocean economy as a whole. The resulting picture of the strains and stresses weighing on the ocean environment provides an important context for the subsequent chapters, which assess the future development of a range of key ocean-based industries.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Critical factors influencing the emerging ocean-based industries

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    • Science, technology and innovation in tomorrow's ocean economy

      This chapter considers one of the most important drivers behind the development of ocean industries: science, technology and innovation. Specifically, it assesses the role of science and new knowledge about the oceans; recent and upcoming developments in incremental and disruptive technologies which are enabling and accelerating the growth of the ocean economy; and the fostering of innovation in the ocean domain through such avenues as leveraging technology synergies among maritime sectors, promoting innovation through maritime industry clusters and technology incubators, and encouraging ocean economy foresight. Rather than adopting a sector-by-sector perspective, the chapter favours a cross-cutting approach that emphasises many of the interdependencies and interactions among maritime activities which are a key feature of the ocean economy.

    • International maritime regulation and emerging ocean-based industries

      This chapter provides a forward view of the changing regulatory landscape affecting ocean industries. It describes briefly how the traditional composition of the maritime sector has been transformed over time by the emergence of new ocean-based activities, and some of the difficulties encountered by the existing regulatory frameworks to adapt to these new industries. Regulatory frameworks are nonetheless evolving. The chapter explores some of the regulatory changes that can be expected in the coming years, selecting three areas for particular attention: the ocean environment and protection of biodiversity, prevention and mitigation of pollution, and maritime safety. Ocean industries and the protection of marine biodiversity are addressed through the lens of gaps in regulatory instruments identified several years ago by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), some of which still remain. Regulation of pollution is approached from the aspect of CO2, NOx and SOx emissions from maritime activities, as well as the potential problems still posed by oil spills and discharge of waste, not least in the extremely vulnerable environment of the Arctic. And upcoming regulatory changes in maritime security are explored with a special focus on maritime cybersecurity.

    • Measuring the global economic contribution of ocean-based industries

      The ocean economy encompasses ocean-based industries and the ocean’s ecosystems. However, ecological accounting to value the ocean’s ecosystem services and natural assets at global level still requires much further research. This chapter therefore restricts itself to estimating the value of the world’s ocean-based industries, until the opportunity arises to perform further work on valuing ocean ecosystems. It begins with observations on current measurement issues before describing the OECD Ocean Economy Database, its sectoral composition, and the sources and data used. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to reporting some of the findings of this new database, notably estimates of the overall global value of the ocean economy on the basis of the ocean industries selected, approximate employment levels in the different industries, and a breakdown by sector and broad geographic regions.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Perspectives on and projections of the future of the ocean economy

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    • Growth prospects, challenges and uncertainties for selected ocean industries

      This chapter is concerned with the future of the ocean-based industries over the next couple of decades, as seen through the eyes of a range of international organisations, agencies, industry associations and research institutions. It reviews a large number of recent sectoral projections, with a view to gaining a sense of which industries are considered by experts to have strong growth prospects over the period under study, which are expected to perform less well, and what particular challenges and uncertainties the industries face. The sectors covered are capture fisheries; offshore oil and gas; shipping; shipbuilding; offshore wind; marine aquaculture; marine tourism; maritime surveillance and safety; ocean renewable energy; deep-sea mining; and marine biotechnology.

    • Ocean industries to 2030

      Building on the OECD Ocean Economy Database and the model described in Annex 8.A1 and in much more detail in a forthcoming OECD working paper, this chapter presents the development of the ocean economy to 2030 under a “business-as-usual” scenario, followed by two alternative scenarios. It should be emphasised from the outset that the scenarios are not forecasts. Rather they are projections whose purpose here is to explore how ocean-based industries might evolve in the next couple of decades on the basis of a set of underlying assumptions, e.g. on economic growth, environmental degradation and technological innovation. The scenarios provide insights into the possible prospects for growth and employment in ocean industries, and help to identify likely upcoming issues and challenges, for example the potential impact of rapid growth of ocean industries on the ocean environment, its consequences for the use of maritime space and implications for ocean spatial management.

    • Towards integrated ocean management

      This chapter takes a longer term forward view of the challenges facing ocean management and some of the opportunities that are emerging which may help address those challenges. It begins with a brief overview of the implications of growing geopolitical multipolarity and institutional fragmentation for governing the high seas before turning its attention to the management of the ocean in exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Here, the problems present themselves differently, since it is individual governments that are generally responsible for resources and human economic activity in EEZs. Nonetheless, it is only recently that national strategic policy frameworks for managing national waters and seabed have begun to take shape, and that integrated ocean management has gathered noticeable momentum. Moreover, management of the marine EEZ is fraught with difficulties that are hampering its effective implementation. The chapter suggests three pathways to the urgent improvements required: better integration of economic analysis and economic tools; innovation in governance structures and processes; and greater use of science and technology, in particular in gathering better data.

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