Towards climate resilient ocean economies in Africa

Sustainable economic development based on the oceans and meeting the aspirations of individual countries, the African Union, economic actors and the African public has many different labels. The choice of either of the terms ‘blue’ or ‘ocean’ linked to ‘economy’ are used in different contexts, but the key attributes desired include minimizing damage to the environment and natural assets, generating benefits and opportunities equitably for people, and promoting resilience to climate change. This report uses the terms ‘blue economy’ and ‘ocean economy’ synonymously – as the business, local and national economies, citizens, beneficiaries and potential victims are the same. Natural ecosystem assets generate goods and services which are the primary resources of the blue or ocean economy, with annual benefit flows estimated at $20.8 billion for ten Western Indian Ocean countries and $47 billion for the five North African countries bordering the Mediterranean. The national dependence on ocean economy sectors varies, with the highest levels for Small Island States, where the estimated ocean output may be as high as 50% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This paper explores the multiple dimensions of a climate resilient ocean or blue economy, focusing on aspects of climate change, resilience in natural and social dimensions, and emerging investment models. Africa is pivoting towards the blue economy as a new frontier for development, with strong imperatives to assure its profitability, sustainability and inclusivity, while facing the worsening threat of climate change and other global challenges. The purpose of this paper is to lay out key principles for climate resilience in the blue economy into the future.