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UNDP and LKI Propose a ‘Blue Economy’ Approach for Sri Lanka’s Economic Development


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) recently published a position paper titled ‘Sri Lanka’s Blue Economy’, which emphasises the importance of a sustainable approach to the marine-based economy, and outlines the necessary policy steps that the government must take to promote blue economic development.

This position paper proposes a Blue Economy development approach for Sri Lanka and highlights recommendations and commitments to a nationally driven sustainable Blue Economy pathway, anchored by a Marine Spatial Plan. The paper provides guiding principles to balance both the economic and conservation objectives of Sri Lanka’s marine territory and offers a broad governance framework for an inclusive, whole-of-society approach which is coordinated between the government, civil society, and the private sector. Further, this can be used by government policymakers for commencing internal discussions within the bureaucracy and to engage with academics, civil society organisations, international organisations, and private sector stakeholders working in Blue Economy sectors. This will build ownership, support human-centric design, mitigate risks, and establish accountability.

The paper first establishes the foundations of the Blue Economy, outlining the revenue-generating and non-revenue-generating benefits of marine-based sectors, the blue multiplier effect, and how the blue economic model can monetise a balance between consumption and conservation.

It also analyses previous case studies in Seychelles, Belize, Ecuador, and the Bahamas, and describes the lessons that Sri Lanka can learn with regard to sustainable financing and unlocking the full potential of the Blue Economy while faced with economic constraints.

The position paper then develops a blueprint for Sri Lanka’s blue economy, emphasising the need for a blue economy policy framework that complements a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) and an Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF). By proposing next steps, the paper provides guidance to policymakers on how to integrate blue economic policies into the broader development strategy, and the importance of a cross-sector, cross-governmental approach that involves stakeholders at all levels in the economy.

This position paper serves as the first stage of UNDP and LKI’s collaboration on the blue economy, which will bring together a diverse set of stakeholders from the public, private, and third sectors, to contribute to the holistic development of a blue economy strategy for Sri Lanka.

The full report is available to read here:

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