Is the Blue Economy an Economic Boon for India?

By Karishma Malhan and Jillian Tauro | Edited by Ikshita Jain and Aashni Rebello

India’s Blue economy policy refers to the sustainable use of the plethora of ocean resources accessible in the country. These are utilised for economic growth, improvement of livelihoods and jobs, all while maintaining a healthy ecosystem through harnessing the resources to aid the creation of goods and services. From the bustling port cities along the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal to the idyllic beaches of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the country has an abundance of resources which can be tapped into to contribute towards the optimum utilisation of the ocean’s resources.

India has a vast coastline of 7,517 km and is home to nine states and 1,382 islands and thus the blue economy provides coastal nations like India with a huge socioeconomic opportunity to responsibly use ocean resources for benefiting the society.The economic philosophy of the Blue Economy was first introduced in 1994 by Professor Gunter Pauli at the United Nations University (UNU). The concept became significant after the Third Earth Summit Conference Rio+20 in 2012.


The blue economy of India makes up a segment of the national economy and consists of physical economic infrastructure in marine, maritime, and onshore coastal zones that are subject to national legislative authority.In the current scenario, 40 percent of people around the world live near coastal areas and 72 percent of the world’s surface is covered by oceans (Economic Times). In addition to having crucial resources like crude oil and recoverable natural gas which are used to promote exports by providing infrastructure and facilities, India has an Exclusive Economic Zone that is over two million square kilometres in size and rich in both living and nonliving resources.

Around 4% of India’s GDP is made up of the blue economy overall, while 95% of the country’s volume of trade is carried out by sea via its 12 major ports and 187 non-major ports. Blue economy is a goal under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14 and India supported all of them, mainly the SDG 14 ‘life below water’. More than 4 million fishermen and their communities are supported by India’s coastal economy.

The Government of India has taken several initiatives to maximise economic growth through the oceans in the past few years. The Sagarmala Project aimed to promote and modernise port-led development in the country and emphasise holistic development of coastal areas. Traffic handled during the financial year 2021-22 at major ports even increased by 6.94% which also helped create livelihood generation and healthy living standards (Economic Times).

The International Seabed Authority has given India permission to conduct deep sea mining in the Indian Ocean.This allows India to focus on harnessing the wealth of the Indian Ocean which has a multitude of resources in the form of fisheries, aquaculture, ocean energy, sea-bed mining and minerals like poly metallic nodules (PMN). PMN are found at the bottom of the sea and contain valuable metals like nickel, copper, manganese and are important for a more sustainable future.

While the Indo-Pacific area has emerged as the new zone of convergence in international politics, which is essential for balancing China’s aggressive posturing and volatile environment, the blue economy is also strategically significant in today’s world.

India’s SAGAR initiative (Security and Growth for All in the Region), was directed towards safeguarding maritime interests of islands and mainlands. By highlighting the significance of the Coast Guard organisations of littoral governments in preventing acts of piracy by non-state actors, it promotes maritime cooperation and naval security and aims to enhance collaboration in trade tourism and infrastructure while keeping climate change problems in mind thus promoting sustainable development. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian navy deployed ships to 15 Friendly Foreign Countries and indicated its power to strengthen cultural ties with neighbouring nations as well.

The Blue economy supports sectors like aquaculture and maritime biotechnology which contribute to the country’s food security and improve the health of the ocean ecosystem as well.

In order to advance the blue economy in the Indian Ocean, India has been actively participating in IORA. The ocean offers enormous potential for renewable “blue energy” from wind, wave, tidal, thermal, and biomass sources, in addition to solar energy, which India actively uses. It emphasises more reliable, less expensive, and fuel-efficient forms of transportation, improves the resilience of coastal biodiversity, and encourages environmentally sound industry and tourism making it ecologically sustainable. Also, it is beneficial to engage in domestic and regional trade, which is boosted by coastal shipping and inland water transportation.

The Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana was launched with the goal to double the revenue of fish farmers and fishers in the country and to promote sustainable development of India’s fisheries sector. This would help increase fish production, better aquaculture productivity , reduce post harvest losses and double the export revenue.

If sustainability and socioeconomic welfare are prioritised in the strategy, the blue economy has the potential to be the next multiplier of economic growth and wellbeing. The significance of the Blue economy as one of the 10 core dimensions of growth was also emphasised in the Government of India’s (GOI) Vision of New India by 2030 showing its high relevance and promise for the future.

Thus, the Blue economy provides India with a wide array of benefits and in the coming years if the government continues to effectively implement its current projects along with new ones, the country would successfully reap the benefits and achieve economic growth and stability. 


The sea has indefinitely played an essential role in all civilisations’ economic endeavours by being a primary source of food, a mode of transportation, and an avenue for trade. The phrase “Blue Economy” refers to a concept that is strongly tied to maritime resources and advanced economies in the oceans. Challenges in novel and well-established treatments and materials are heralded by its expanding scope and the developing requirements of a circular economy. An economic model known as the circular economy is focused on resource efficiency, waste reduction, recycling, and resource recovery. It is crucial to emphasise that the idea of the blue economy creates two conflicts of interest. Those associated with conserving and safeguarding the ocean’s resources, and those associated with economic and capitalistic growth and development. 

Ocean resources unquestionably support a variety of aspects of the world economy and have great potential for important sectors like transportation, food production, energy, mineral extraction, biotechnology, human settlement along coastlines, tourism and recreation, and scientific research. This often results in its exploitation for profit maximisation, with little to no care for the damage done to the environment. More importantly, focus on sustainability is almost always lost. The oceans were designated as priority areas at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, with some initial objectives being proposed such as “sustainable consumption and production patterns,” “food security,” “sustainable energy for all,” and “disaster risk reduction and resilience.” This fact is still true today.

The G20 proposed the rebuilding of the global economy, post-pandemic, through major investments in sustainable development, with a focus being placed on ocean-based climate solutions for the recovery of the national economy. This is because the G20 includes 21% of the world’s exclusive economic zones and 45% of its coastline. Internationally, raw materials, consumer products, and energy are mostly obtained through transportation, which also facilitates international trade, grows the economy, and creates jobs both on land and at sea. Also, the shipbuilding sector adds genuine value to a number of coastal communities. In terms of carbon emissions, the shipping industrial sector ranks as the seventh largest nation in the world. Also, in order to sustain their vital environmental functions, coastal wetlands and ecosystems like salt marshes, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and mangrove forests need to be urgently protected. When compared to terrestrial forests, these ecosystems store up to five times as much carbon per unit area and are expected to shield coastal populations from more severe storms and rise in sea levels. 

According to a 2021 report by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, ocean-based climate and nature-based solutions like these could collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 11 billion tonnes by 2050, which is the same as shutting down all of the world’s coal-fired power plants for a year, and by about 4 billion tonnes annually by 2030. This statistic speaks to the damage the blue economy currently contributes to ecological systems around the world. 

India’s current Blue Economy collaborations are mostly driven by financial considerations, and the dedication to sustainability is scarcely evident. The Blue Economy plan for India struggles to completely incorporate features like sustainable resource development, environmental conservation, and the avoidance of ecological ocean scarcities, even though it includes elements like innovation and job creation.

In order to develop blue economic strategies, India has a bigger potential to promote collaboration in the Indian Ocean. India is eager to develop specific Blue Economy policies because sustainability and climate change are high on the world agenda and a priority for the country’s forthcoming G20 chairmanship. The effects of climate change are already having an influence on communities and the environment in the Indian Ocean and littoral nations. Moving forward, a robust Blue Economy framework in the region depends on quicker, more effective cooperation and international interactions.

As for Mumbai, the coastal road project blatantly ignores the intertidal zones’ sensitivity to the environment. Landfilling and development activities all harm delicate coastal habitats. Marine food networks are anticipated to be disrupted, and coral reefs and important fish-hatching locations are feared to be devastated. Furthermore, the project builds a dam and jeopardises the current natural stormwater drainage patterns, which increases the risk of flooding in Bombay, The city is already vulnerable to floods during the monsoon season. Given the rapid global climate change and the rising sea levels that threaten the city’s already fragile infrastructure, land reclamation is especially problematic. 

The local fishing community and their means of subsistence are negatively impacted by the alteration of the marine environment. Even now, the drilling and landfilling noises have scared away fish, causing fishermen to look for deeper seas. Their financial hardships are made worse by their longer commutes and increased fuel prices. Also, the built-in pillars pose a threat to their safety by impeding their fishing path. Yet again, capitalistic gains have taken priority over extremely urgent environmental conservation. 

The blue economy and its vast potential cannot be abandoned for the preservation of the ecosystem but simultaneously sustainability cannot be ignored for much longer. It has become essential to take quick, effective and large-scale climate action. Sustainable development must take precedence in priority over any and all industrial or capital gain. The need is now more than ever. 


5 reasons why the G20 needs a sustainable blue economy. (2022, May 25). The World Economic Forum. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from

Importance of India’s Blue Economy: IBEF. India Brand Equity Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2023, from

India and the Blue Economy: Synergies in the neighbourhood. (2022, October 25). Hindustan Times. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from

Indian blue economy is thriving but country needs to be careful about marine litter. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2023, from

Manoj, P. (2022, February 23). BL explainer : All about India’s Blue Economy. BL Explainer : All About India’s Blue Economy – The Hindu BusinessLine. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from

Martínez, R. M., Milán, J., & Valenciano, P. (2021, May 17). Challenges of the Blue Economy: evidence and research trends – Environmental Sciences Europe. Environmental Sciences Europe. Retrieved February 21, 2023, from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s