The OECD report Rethinking Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean Economy emphasises the growing importance of science and technology in managing the economic development of our seas and ocean responsibly. Marine ecosystems sit at the heart of many of the world’s global challenges: food, medicines, new sources of clean energy, climate regulation, job creation and inclusive growth. But we need to safeguard and improve the health of these ecosystems to support our ever-growing use of marine resources. Innovation in science and technology will play a key role in reconciling these two objectives.

In this context, new thinking and fresh approaches are required in many areas, placing innovation at the heart of society’s response to the challenges facing the development of a truly sustainable ocean economy. This publication sets itself four objectives:

  • Offer a forward-looking perspective on scientific and technological innovation across a range of marine and maritime applications, with a particular focus on some of the innovations already in the pipeline (Chapter 2);

  • Contribute to the growing body of evidence suggesting that, with the help of innovation, the development of economic activity in the ocean and sustainability of marine ecosystems can often go hand in hand with one another, and provide a number of in-depth case studies that illustrate the potential for generating such win-win outcomes (Chapter 2);

  • Investigate the emergence of new forms of collaboration in the ocean economy among research communities in the public sector, the academic world and a diverse range of private-sector stakeholders, using the example of innovation networks that have sprung up in recent years around the world (Chapter 3);

  • Highlight new approaches to measuring the ocean economy, notably by exploring the use of satellite accounts for its twin pillars – ocean-based economic activities and marine ecosystem services – and by examining ways to better measure the benefits that important sustained ocean observations provide not only to science, but also to the economy and society more generally (Chapter 4).

Based on this original study, three priority areas for action are presented: 1) approaches that produce win-win outcomes for ocean business and the ocean environment across a range of marine and maritime applications; 2) the creation of ocean-economy innovation networks; and 3) initiatives to improve measurement of the ocean economy via satellite accounts of national accounting systems.

This publication is based on research and analytical work conducted by the OECD STI Ocean Economy Group in the Science and Technology Policy Division, within the Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI). The Innovation and the Ocean Economy programme of work, which will continue in 2019-20, builds upon six years of original OECD work on the ocean economy, featuring in particular the ground-breaking report The Ocean Economy in 2030. These activities fit into the broader programme of work of the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP).

The Innovation and the Ocean Economy 2017-18 programme of work was kindly supported by voluntary financial and in-kind contributions from a wide variety of government departments, agencies and research institutions, who constitute the project’s Steering Board. Their contributions are acknowledged with sincere thanks. The report also benefited from contributions from many other experts, both internal and external to the OECD, and our sincere thanks go also to them. All such organisations and individuals are listed in the Acknowledgements.

This publication was supervised by Claire Jolly, Head of the Innovation Policies for Space and Ocean (IPSO) Unit, and of the OECD STI Ocean Economy Group, with research and analysis conducted by James Jolliffe, Economist, and Barrie Stevens, Senior Advisor, both of the OECD STI Ocean Economy Group. Julia Hoffman, Economist, conducted research on ocean observations, and was seconded to the OECD by the Christian-Albrechts-University zu Kiel, Germany, through the kind contributions of the Marine Research Consortium (KDM), Germany, the European Union AtlanOs Project, and the Exzellenzcluster “Future Ocean” Kiel Marine Science (KMS). Editorial assistance for the publication was provided by Chrystyna Harpluk, Project Coordinator in IPSO. Anita Gibson, who held the position of Project Coordinator until retirement in August 2018, organised the workshops for this project.

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