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  • Writer's pictureFoundation for the National Interest PH

3rd EconSecurity Talks Highlights the Importance of the Philippine Blue Economy


Manila, 04 November 2022

The Foundation for the National Interest and FACTS Asia, with the support of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Philippines and Amador Research Services organized the third installment of the 2022 EconSecurity Talks titled “Achieving Economic Security through the Blue Economy” on Friday, 28th of October 2022 at 2:00 pm (Philippine Standard Time) via Zoom. Resource speakers consist of Dr. Maria Angela G. Zafra, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Strategia Development Research Institute; Dr. Michael C. Huang, Senior Research Fellow at the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation; and Dr. Ben Milligan, Director of the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership Secretariat. Dr. Vinzenz Huzel, Resident Representative of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Philippines provided the opening remarks; and Dr. Deo Florence Onda, Deputy Director for Research of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, gave the closing remarks. PTV News Anchor Ms. Diane Querrer, moderated the webinar.

The great potential of the "blue economy" sector is given critical consideration as part of the national development strategy. The webinar explored the various ways in which the Philippines might implement various techniques to grow the industry, including community involvement, public-private partnerships, and bilateral or regional cooperation. These discussions aim to gather ideas and policy recommendations which can further accelerate the progress of ocean industries in the Philippines while adopting inclusive and sustainable development concepts.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Vinzenz Huzel discussed the blue economy of the Philippine seas and how it has shaped Filipino culture. The livelihood of Filipino fishermen, environmental protection, economic exploitation, and catastrophe risk management, among many other "explosive" political concerns find their roots in the waters. Despite the challenges brought up and highlighted in the seminar and the preceding ones, he emphasized how we may go past them and consider the potential that the Philippine Blue Economy and surrounding nations will face in the future.

Dr. Maria Angela G. Zafra explored how ocean tourism and economic development are intertwined in archipelagic nations, such as the Philippines. Her discussion is divided into five sections, including 1) Ocean Wealth in the Philippines, 2) Tourism and Economic Development in the Philippines, 3) Ocean Tourism in the Philippines, 4) Policy Landscape, and 5) Recommendations for future developments. Statistics released by the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) and Philippine Statistics Authority, and Ocean Health Index, were discussed and have shown significant data regarding issues on how the Philippines has been exploiting the ocean and marine resources unsustainably, as well as top 10 climate change risks that the Philippines are vulnerable to, which proved how most of these risks are largely related to ocean and marine biodiversity (e.g. sea level rise, flooding, severe and frequent typhoons, ocean biodiversity loss, etc.). In discussing Philippine Ocean Tourism, she described its types, and their economic and sustainability benefits. Dr. Zafra said that the Philippines’ policy landscape should involve tourism policies, environmental policies, and an integration of both, citing examples of specific policies included in the landscape namely the Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR) Law. This will facilitate a “well-developed” and “robust'' policy framework for a blue economy.

Dr. Michael Huang puts emphasis on Building Resilience through Blue Economy and Blue Finance. Dr. Huang discussed several projects of Japan such as Experiment of 2021 Value Chain Improvement Project by Japan Fishery Agency, the Nippon Foundation and Japan Hydrographic Association’s Map of Japan Project, Suruga Bay Smart Ocean Consortium, Hydrogen Supply and Utilization Technology, the Blue Economy, Blue Finance, and the Fully autonomous ship project “Designing the Future of Full Autonomous Ship” (DFFAS). All these projects, he states, contribute to his key points of building a Blue Economy through sustainable fishery, investigating ocean areas suitable for Blue Carbon, and the application and development of advanced technologies to the marine field, or Smart Ocean. To conclude, Dr. Huang confers how all previous technologies mentioned require intellectuals, which emphasizes great importance to the Early Career Ocean Professionals (ECOPs) Programme, as it elevates diverse perspectives of new generations of ocean professionals.

Dr. Ben Milligan built on the previous presentations by Dr. Zafra and Dr. Huang regarding achieving a sustainable ocean economy in practice. He discusses some of the concrete steps, and challenges we should consider putting the idea of a Global Economy into actual policies and practice. The first challenge he states, is the creation of indicators beyond the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that looks at sustainability, inclusivity, and other factors that reach the same level of rigor and investment confidence that GDP has enjoyed for decades. Another issue is that the structure of the Ocean Economy, in several parts of the world, is changing rapidly. Dr. Ben Milligan states that “We’re living in an era of change, and to make good decisions in an era of change, we need a whole range of innovative responses, by way of policy instruments.” He proceeds to discuss Area-Based Plans, which he argues to be one of the key ingredients of sustainable ocean planning to deliver sustainable ocean development, together with combining economic development and protection with ethical considerations. He states that designing all these requires good evidence therefore needing good measurement practices, and thus the primary foundation of sustainable ocean planning is Ocean Accounts.

During the open forum, a diverse set of questions were sent to the speakers which showed the interest of the participants on this topic. Questions given covered subject matters such as 1) policies that the Philippines should implement in developing its blue economy, 2) countries that the Philippines should look to, for assistance and cooperation in developing the Blue Economy, and 3) the significant role of maritime college institutions in achieving economic security.

Dr. Deo Florence Onda, closed the forum by asserting the ocean’s great importance to our economic development, therefore requiring a great amount of attention from the economic sector. He further reiterates how developing the ocean and the blue economy is inevitable for the Philippines, being an archipelagic nation. As he shares statistics of the Philippine’s Ocean Economy, having the GDP of only 7% despite the country’s maritime area being 82% of our country’s territory, he underscored the great importance of expanding the Philippines’ marine and coastal industries to further contribute to the development of our country’s Ocean Economy.

A total of eighty six (86) people attended this webinar event. Participants came from a diverse array of sectors including teachers and students, the diplomatic corps, government officials, defense and security personnel and non-governmental organizations.




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