Blue Economy: a proposal for Island 2 Island partnership and collaboration


“For most of history, man had to fight with nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”   Jacques Cousteau

The Blue economy provides a roadmap to economic growth and a sustainable exploitation of Maritime wealth. It is forecasted to be doubled by 2030, compared to the $ 1.5 billion estimation in 2010. The ocean is filled with potential, and maritime related sectors will be flourishing whether directly or indirectly.

The development of maritime technology will help us to better exploit and harness the sea potential to create jobs in the sea-related sectors; fishery, energy production, aquaculture tourism, etc. The ocean is now seen as a major means for economic growth. The sea has many crucial natural functions as it provides food and minerals, it generates oxygen and absorbs greenhouse emissions, and attenuate the impact of climate change. Irrespective of its functions and provisions, the ocean is not limitless. A non-sustainable approach to the blue economy may cause a worsening state of the sea, a significant lack of maritime resources, and future economic contraction.  

As 90% of the volume of world trade is carried out by the sea, its non-sustainable exploitation will be perilous to international shipping and have far-reaching consequences. In November 2018, world leaders, for the first time, gathered in Nairobi to discuss and set the standard for the future of the blue economy. To have a prosperous blue economy, it is a prerequisite that the eco-system remains healthy and an international consensus is reached in order to sustainably manage the ocean resources.
The blue economy conference, in its core, sought to establish international platforms with cooperative regimes to make sure that the sea remains a source of food, jobs, and stability for us and upcoming generations.

The blue economy is not wasteful. It is appropriately designed to be circular and to fully benefit people and the planet. The sector employs about 1% of the global workforce - 1.2 to 1.9 billion and contribute 2.5% to the world GDP. Taking into consideration the increasing growth of the sector, it is notable that it is still in cradle.

Introducing sustainable policies in the blue economy is highly feasible because it is in its earliest state of development. The development of the blue economy is not uniform, for it depends on several internal factors such as maritime zone, existing economic activities, issues related to cultural and social norms, etc. As the internal needs are different, then each country is required to draw its own vision for a sustainable ocean economy. However, the commonalities of efficiency and cleanliness are to exist. To facilitate this task, data and best practices should be shared between nations. Pollution is a major issue thwarting sustainable economic exploitation of the ocean. It transcends national borders and has cascade effects.


This represents a threat to the international sector of the blue economy and it requires a global participation in order to mitigate or stop it. Policies to combat water pollution are draft, but sometimes remain merely on paper. There is a conflicting interest between the three major sectors in the blue economy; fishing industries, crude oil production, and aquaculture. But the goals is to sustainably and equitably balance the interest of the sectors. Economic trends, lack of investment in Human capital, and inadequate care for marine resources are the challenges identified by the World Bank as factors for a prosperous and sustainable blue economy. Addressing these three (3) aforementioned challenges are prerequisites to fully and responsibly harness the wealth of the ocean.

Blue Halo Initiative for the conservation of the ocean
The Ocean has served as a source of income for Curacao through Trade and Maritime Transport, Coastal and Maritime Tourism, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and as a source of (sustainable) energy production, water desalination and research. Through the Waitt Institute program for the sustainable conservation of our ocean we are part of the Blue Halo Initiative which supports island nations in the conservation of their oceans by assisting with data gathering, policy development, strategies for the conservation of life below water, sustainable fishing, healthy coral reefs and by eradicating land based pollution.


Through the Partnership with Waitt Institute, Curacao has been able to develop and implement several strategies and maintains one of the best visibility and spectacular coral reefs in the Caribbean. Blue Economy seeks to promote economic growth, social inclusion and the preservation or improvement of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas. Blue economy has diverse components, including established traditional ocean industries such as fisheries, tourism and maritime transport, but also new and emerging activities such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed extractive activities, and marine biotechnology and bioprospecting. A number of services provided by ocean ecosystems, and for which markets do not exist, also contribute significantly to economic and other human activity such as carbon sequestration, coastal protection, waste disposal and the existence of biodiversity.

Island 2 Island Blue Economy partnership
As an Island we are in the best position to advice and share best practices with other islands. Therefore, the Government of Curacao has engaged into an Island 2 Island cooperation strategy through which it can share and receive information, solutions, collaborate and support other islands. Through its participation in the UN Local 2030 Island Network it works towards localizing the SDGs for islands. Through its participation in the Virtual Island Summit and Network we offer island grown solutions to other islands in the fields of technology and sustainability. We envision a collaboration platform or alliance among the OCTs, and among the ORs, between the OCTs and the ORs and also with the EU Islands and another external parties like for example the Eastern Caribbean States or other conglomerate of islands in the Pacific or Indian Ocean. Through this partnership, the EU is able to empower the groups of islands to collaborate and share island-grown solutions and expertise or collective approaches to solutions or programs for Blue Economy.

Blue Economy Projects in Curacao
A. The Deep Sea Industry (DSI) and the Ocean Science and Technology Park (OSTP),

The Deep Sea Industry and the Ocean Science and Technology Park, will be our Flagship Blue Economy project for Curacao. While the traditional Blue Economy activities will continue to be of great value for Curacao, new and more innovative and sustainable projects have been identified. The realization of the Zakito District Cooling System on Curaçao is expected to create a business opportunity for the secondary use of the Deep Seawater (DSW) from that development. As Deep Sea Water can be described as having four benefits;

It is cold, concentrated in dissolved inorganic nutrients, free of pollutants and contaminants, and consistent in these qualities 24/7, 365 days in a year, it is a solid basis for new innovative economic spin-off. A project team has been appointed and is working, on the strategic plan encompassing concrete deliverables for new economic activities for Curacao. It has been proven in other locations (Hawaii and Japan) where deep seawater is being utilized that many opportunities exist for creating a wide diversity of successful research, development, demonstration and business enterprises.

The primary benefit of setting up an Ocean Science and Technology Park, will be measured by the creation of high-quality employment opportunities (jobs), tax revenues and direct and indirect economic benefits to local economy. Furthermore indirect benefits to the economy will be realized as a result of all of the support and service industries that will be needed to build and support the operation of the OSTP.

B.  Proteus by Fabien Cousteau: Research for the future of humanity

“We must dare to dream bigger and look to our ocean as part of the solution” Fabien Cousteau
The “underwater version” of the International Space Station is coming to Curaçao. “PROTEUS will be integral to giving back to our future generations that which we have taken for granted.” The project will be built off the coast of Curaçao at a depth of 60 feet. Another promising project in cooperation with Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the late Jacques Cousteau. Renowned ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau has announced his plans for PROTEUS, a project that’s being built as the “world’s most advanced scientific research station and habitat.” According to Cousteau, as our life support system, the Ocean is indispensable to solving the planet’s biggest problems. Challenges created by climate change, rising sea levels, extreme storms and viruses represent a multi-trillion-dollar risk to the global economy.  Surprisingly, despite the Ocean representing over 99% of our world’s living space, only 5% has been explored to date.

PROTEUS, contemplated as the first in a network of underwater habitats, is essential to driving meaningful solutions that protect the future of our planet. The knowledge that will be uncovered underwater will forever change the way generations of humans live up above. PROTEUS will be more than four times bigger than any previous underwater habitat; it will include everything from sleeping quarters to labs to a “moon pool. It will be powered by hybrid energy sources including wind, solar and ocean thermal energy. It will also have the world’s first-ever underwater greenhouse.

“Our incredible Caribbean sea holds immense riches yet to be fully discovered. The economic potential of having the first underwater space station located in Curaçao’s waters is enormous, from job creation to tourism.” Dr. Steven Martina, Minister of Economic Development of Curaçao.

For more, visit the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center.