Countries around the world have turned their attention to “blue” opportunities as they look to rebuild their economies. The OECD has estimated that the global ocean economy will be worth $3trn by 2030 and that many ocean-focused industries will outpace the growth of the broader global economy by then. Governments have recently demonstrated their ability to mobilise resources to adapt to a rapidly changing situation. Together, these factors can help deliver a sustainable and inclusive ocean economy that creates jobs while helping make progress towards shared sustainability goals.
The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and is already an important source of food, energy, leisure and economic activity. Though the pandemic has disrupted key marine industries such as fishing, shipping and tourism, the fundamental drivers of the ocean economy’s growth remain unchanged: the world must meet the food, energy and economic needs of a growing population while innovating to tackle climate change and its consequences.
Investing in people will be crucial. In addition to boosting cutting-edge technological research and scaling up innovative solutions, countries and industries must also ensure that a growing global workforce has the right skills, the entrepreneurial mindset, the enthusiasm and the resilience to solve current and future challenges. With well-established sectors such as shipping, fishing and offshore energy already facing skills shortages, those at a more nascent stage of development are likely to encounter even sterner challenges to developing and attracting talent.
But the barriers to entry are mental as well as practical. Many people associate ocean-focused careers only with the military or merchant navy, and imagine long stretches away from home or dangerous, physically demanding (and male-dominated) labour. How can these attitudinal hurdles be overcome? How can more people, both young and old, be inspired to make the most of the blue economy’s potential while also tackling pressing challenges to the ocean’s health?
Fostering talent for the ocean economy, a virtual event from The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative, will consider how people can be encouraged to make an impact in the ocean economy. Speakers will discuss actionable solutions that businesses, academic institutions and governments can implement to equip people with the skills they will need to enjoy thriving careers in marine industries five, ten and fifty years in the future.