Pakistan’s journey to the blue economy was the key theme of the 10th International Maritime Conference in Karachi that I had the pleasure to attend and speak at last weekend.
Following the debates in other coastal states, also Pakistan is increasingly trying to seize the opportunities that are presented by blue economy thinking. The conference in Karachi, organized by the National Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Pakistani Navy, had as its main objective to establish what blue economy may mean for the country.
The rich program incorporated the full range of sectors associated with the concept, ranging from traditional economic sectors, including ports, shipping and ship breaking, to value that can be generated through aquaculture and coral reef restoration. A parliamentarian called for a blue economy task force, and the minister for climate change gave a passionate speech on why blue economy needs to focus on environmental protection and climate change adaption, rather than profit. The conference without doubt succeeded to further increase the awareness for the oceans within Pakistan and promote the concept of blue economy.
The discussion in Pakistan is interesting and differs from other countries, as the debate in many ways is let by the #navy which understands itself as the guardian of the sea. As I learned over the conference days, the navy has made a strong commitment to marine conservation. In partnership with the IUCN, navy officers help to plant mangroves. A partnership with the NGO Ocean Quest was announced during the conference which will lead to joint projects in coral reef restoration in the Arabian Sea. This is remarkable, since in other national contexts the cooperation between military and conservation communities are weak. We might see a model case emerging here, how armed forces can engage in conservation. Yet, obviously also the Pakistani navy has to make more effort to evaluate and reduce its environmental footprint and green its operations.
I was also delighted to discuss a cooperation between SafeSeas and the National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) during my stay.