Every year, the ocean economy has an estimated turnover of between US$3 and 6 trillion. This includes employment, ecosystem services provided by the ocean, and cultural services. It is also estimated that fisheries and aquaculture contribute $US100 billion per year and about 260 million jobs to the global economy.

On the side-lines of the Ocean Conference, UN DESA and the World Bank Group hosted an event on “Blue Economy: Opportunities and Challenges”, offering a platform for dialogue on what the concept means and how it can enhance sustainable development options, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

“The World’s Ocean, inter-connected, is undeniably essential for sustainable development, and humankind. It provides services that are vital for our health, well-being and survival on planet Earth,” said Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Ocean Conference and Under-Secretary-General of UN DESA, as he opened the side event on 6 June.

“As a result of this joint effort, we are proud to launch today, together with our partners, a dedicated report on the blue economy and its opportunities for SIDS and LDCs,” Mr. Wu said.

“A blue economy is a long-term strategy aimed at supporting sustainable economic growth through oceans-related sectors and activities, while improving human well-being and social equity and preserving the environment,” he said.

Also welcoming the large audience that filled the event venue to its brim was Laura Tuck, Vice President, Sustainable Development, World Bank Group. Ms. Tuck shared her insights on the blue economy.

“The value provided by marine and coastal ecosystems often goes unrecognized because it isn’t that easy to quantify,” Ms. Tuck said.  "If we value these resources better, they will be better protected and better able to sustainably provide the foundation for economic growth and poverty reduction – particularly for SIDS and coastal LDCs,” she added.

Speaking on the panel, the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, said tourism, in particular nature-based tourism operated by community groups, was a key component of SIDS economies. The Swedish Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Mattias Landgren, said that as a friendly partner of blue economy, Sweden was committed for the long run, and stressed the need to work with all stakeholders.

Other prominent speakers at the event included the President of the General Assembly Peter Thomson, the Ocean State Secretary of the Government of Madagascar Ylenia Randrianarisoa and the French Ambassador for the Oceans, Serge Segura.