The OECD’s latest report, “The Blue Economy in Cities and Regions,” sheds light on significant vulnerabilities facing the blue economy at subnational levels, with climate-related factors posing the most substantial threat. Subnational governance, operating beneath the national or central government level addresses these challenges.

Findings from an OECD global survey revealed key concerns among respondents, with sea-level rise, floods, coastal erosion, and drought ranking high on the list.

Despite the crucial role of the blue economy, which involves the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources, in driving local development and supporting millions of jobs in water-dependent sectors, such as fisheries, port activities, and coastal tourism, financial constraints hinder effective policy implementation.

Aziza Akhmouch, Head of Cities at the OECD, highlighted the untapped potential of cities and regions in the blue economy at the UN Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona, Spain.

She emphasised the disparity between cities and regions contributing to significant climate-related public investment and the lack of subnational blue economy strategies.

The primary obstacle impeding effective blue economy policies, according to the report, is the lack of financial resources (83%), followed by insufficient data collection and sharing, and fragmented roles and responsibilities in policymaking, both at 69%. To combat these challenges, the OECD Report introduces a strategy dubbed “RISC-proof,” aimed at bolstering resilience, inclusivity, sustainability, and circularity within blue economies.

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To address these barriers, the OECD report introduces a strategy named “RISC-proof,” focusing on bolstering resilience, inclusivity, sustainability, and circularity within blue economies.

While the blue economy drives urban and regional development, it also contributes to carbon emissions and ecosystem degradation, exacerbating vulnerabilities to climate change impacts.

Cities and regions, as hubs of blue economy activities, play a crucial role in unlocking its potential while safeguarding ecosystems.

Drawing on a comprehensive survey of over 80 cities, regions, and basins, the report highlights the costs and benefits of the blue economy at subnational levels, emphasizing its link with water security. It calls for the cultivation of resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and circular blue economies through improved governance conditions related to policymaking, coherence, and implementation.