Proposing a Blue Bond Initiative for the Underwater Domain Awareness Framework

Overview

The research note highlights the need for alternate and innovative financing mechanisms to fund the transition towards a Blue Economy. It outlines the link between sustainability and blue bonds, suggesting the need for both private and public investments to accelerate progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It details the significance of the UDA Framework in governing sustainable utilisation of the undersea resources and presents applications for blue projects such as Inland Waterways, Sustainable Fisheries and Shrimp farming. The research note discusses existing blue economy policies and the future opportunities available to India to harness its Blue Economy to its full potential.

Key highlights
  • The Indian Ocean plays a vital role in the economy through a significant contribution in livelihoods, cultural identities, fisheries, offshore oil and natual gas resources, tourism and maritime industries. Indian Ocean nations have the capability to build skills and knowledge to underpin sustainable blue economic growth and sustainability
  • For India, Blue Economy assumes high priority. This has been expressed through the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR). It’s a call for stakeholders to unearth the true development potential present in India’s 7,500 km coastline in the form of a network for inland waterways with a cross-sectoral multiplier effect on employment and growth.
  • The Blue Economy serves as a framework and policy for sustainable marine economic activities as well as new marine-based Today, at the core of the Blue Economy concept is the de-coupling of ocean economic development from environmental degradation.
Applications for Blue Bonds:
  • Sustainable fisheries: A critical role can be played by the blue bond market towards the financing of sustainable development along the coastline and in oceans by mainstreaming emerging ocean industries such as sustainable fisheries, driving investments towards a blue economy. It would ensure food security, growth and jobs for the coastal communities.
  • Undersea mining: There is an urgent need for comprehensive ecosystem-based management practices for deep ocean environments subject to mineral extraction to ensure sustainable use of resources. Blue bonds will help the country raise funds to implement mechanisms for the preservation and effective stewardship of the marine environment while facilitating seabed mineral resources usage.
  • Ports and Shipping: Oceans are a vital repository and supporter of biological diversity, a key contributor to the global economy through sea-borne trade. Given India’s dependence on ports for transportation, the oceanic route needs to be developed and regulated to ensure smooth operation.
  • Inland Waterway Transport: Despite water transport presenting as a cheaper alternative, it only holds a 7% share in coastal shipping and 0.17% for Inland Water The revival plan of IWT requires public and private investment to fund the development of ports, infrastructure for shipping and navigation as well as road and rail connectivity. Blue bonds could help raise the required capital for such projects and aid in the development of the country.
Challenges
  • Blue bonds operate on a large scale as there are sizeable costs associated with their As a result, they need to be between $50 and $550 million.
  • Blue bonds are not self-sustainable, they can generate money only if charges are levied on a beneficiary which can be hard to identify.
  • As a debt instrument, the money needs to be repaid. It makes blue bonds difficult for marine protected areas disallowing economic
Key recommendations
  • Reframing the blue economy based on their dependence on ocean ecosystems will help focus policymaking, shifting the balance towards sustainable
  • Public funding is currently limited, and most estimates show that the full cost of establishing and operating marine protected areas in line with global goals would far outstrip available conservation funding. Other forms of ocean finance are therefore required to link ocean sectors with funding for conservation and sustainable
  • Blue bonds require the identification of beneficiaries to levy charges and generate These often turn out to be government agencies with limited funding. It is therefore essential to develop a revenue model less reliant on government aid that allows revenue to be generated from the project itself.

"The underlying policy and regulatory framework is crucial to promote sustainable investments, including by realigning incentives towards sustainability and improving regulation.”

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