How Can we Define the Difference Between Blue and Green Economies?

green and blue economy

Climate change, pollution, the loss of natural resources, social inequality, income disparity, famine, and financial crises —are all pressing issues that countries around the globe are currently facing in some way or another. An urgent need to tackle all these global matters has become the focus in the last decade, especially due to the UN’s action plan of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to create a more sustainable and equal world for the population and the environment as well. For many years, governments have attempted to overcome these difficulties, and the economic factor, being the motor that drives countries to wealth and prosperity, was seen as a potential path to achieve sustainability and overall balance between nature and man. Therefore, to reconcile the idea that an economy can provide for its citizens as well as protect the environment, the concepts of “blue” and “green” economies were introduced and subsequently adopted by countries around the world. 

Although we may think that the “blue economy” is limited to the ocean and the marine ecosystem — just as we might make a similar assumption about the green economy —, this isn’t the case. The idea behind these economies is for countries and companies to create new business models that profit off our natural resources and reduce waste and mismanagement to a minimum to meet everyone’s needs on a global scale, while at the same time striving to safeguard our planet’s natural resources. 

What does “green economy” mean?

green economy

The concept of a green economy was first coined in 1989 in a report commissioned by a group of environmental economists for the UK government. The definition had been vastly linked to the term “sustainable development” and its involvement in economic policies and practices. Later, as governments searched for ways to sort through energy, food, and financial global crises, the scope of this economy was expanded to include not just a single country’s environmental policies, but to take on global issues such as climate change, deforestation, wildfires, ozone depletion, and so on. By enlarging the scope of these green economies, they would promote international cooperation amongst countries and adopt the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development agenda. 

In line with this idea, the United Nations defined the green economy as “low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. In this type of economy, growth in employment and income is driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure, and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.” 

The green economy operates at the macro-economic level and strives toward sustainable economic growth by focusing on resource management and investments, employment rates, and inflation. To transform the different economic sectors into a green economy, it will be necessary to develop tools and policies, as well as promote regulations and knowledge, at both national and regional levels. The resulting green economy will have improved human welfare and social equity, and at the same time significantly reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcity, and depletion. 

What is a “blue economy”?

blue economy

The concept of the “blue economy” or an “ocean economy” stems from the idea to link the notions of conservation and sustainability, only this time in relation to the ocean and marine creatures living in it. The term first appeared in 2012 at a United Nations conference about sustainable development in Brazil, where the main concern was the need to create a sustainable economy, as was the urgency to prevent the further degradation of the environment.  

According to UNESCO, the blue economy concept “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.” This means that it is mainly oriented toward the sustainability of the ocean and any body of water main, as they are a source of human and animal food.

The main goals of the blue economy are to recognize the value of the essential capital as a basis for a healthy marine environment, to maintain growth, and foster as well as promote “blue” business and jobs. A blue economy should also promote alternative sources of renewable energy, manage, and enhance resource efficiency and deal with scarcity issues, and accompany these objectives with the necessary technical equipment and knowledge to achieve them.

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The blue economy concerns those economic sectors that carry out activities in oceans and inland waters. These activities include fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, maritime security, mining, oil and gas, and renewable energy. It is therefore important to introduce sustainable policies and practices in these sectors since they are the ones that have a direct impact on marine ecosystems. 

Conclusion About the Difference Between Blue and Green Economy

In short, blue, and green economies are two concepts that have the same end goal: to make the world a more sustainable and equal place for both living creatures and the environment. Their main difference lies in their field of action, although they are not limited to it. A blue economy will focus on looking after the ocean and its inhabitants, while a green economy will focus on land’s natural resources and make sure they are abundant and cater to the needs of the human population. As an important pillar of any country’s wellbeing, these two economies are the key to ensuring a safe, sustainable, and equal environment for the people but are also the right path to follow to preserve the world’s resources, effectively preventing human actions and activities from purposedly harming and contaminating the planet.  

Frequently Asked Questions About How we Can Define the Difference Between Blue and Green Economies

As per United Nations’ definition, it refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns that can occur naturally but that, nowadays, human activities are the principal cause of climate change, due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, which release powerful toxins into the environment. 

As defined by the UN: “sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainability aims to integrate environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality to maintain and preserve an ecological balance for current and future generations. 

In line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they are described as “an urgent call for action by all countries, developing and developed, in a global partnership.” The Goals are: (1) no poverty, (2) zero hunger, (3) good health and well-being, (4) quality education, (5) gender equality, (6) clean water, (7) affordable and clean energy, (8) decent work and economic growth, (9) industry, innovation and infrastructure, (10) reduced inequality, (11) sustainable cities and communities, (12) responsible consumption and production, (13) climate action, (14) life below water, (15) life on land, (16) peace and justice strong institutions, and (17) partnerships to achieve the goal. 

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