Blue innovation: turning risks into opportunities

Climate change, plastic pollution and ecosystem destruction—the ocean faces many risks. Homes, businesses and investments are threatened by extreme weather, exposure to toxic chemicals and loss of resources.  

Innovation in ocean-based sectors can provide solutions to these problems, turning risks into opportunities. Indeed, “blue innovation” is one of the main levers of change identified by the World Ocean Initiative. The video below summarises the need for innovation in the blue economy.

The World Ocean Initiative’s coverage identifies the barriers that are holding back innovations and assesses the actions needed to get them to market.

New ocean technologies  

One recent article looks at wave and tidal renewable energy technologies, which lag far behind offshore wind, and considers how best to develop the sector. A recent guest blog considers the technological innovations needed to improve air quality at ports, as well as the policies and investment needed to support implementation.  

Innovation is also required to bring us new insights into the seabed, which has so far been largely uncharted. A guest blog looks at a project to map the entire seabed by 2030.  

Women innovators  

Women play a significant role in the blue economy, yet their input rarely receives the support, recognition and publicity it deserves. Three inspiring female innovators from across the globe, leading the way for a sustainable ocean economy, have won the World Ocean Initiative’s inaugural Women and the ocean: Changemakers challenge. Their innovations include protecting coral reefs through eco-tourism, a cell-based clean meat innovation, and a tool to verify fish catch locations and improve traceability.  

Controversial tech  

More controversially, deep-sea mining promises to provide the metals needed to build millions of electric cars at a lower environmental cost than land-based mining. Geoengineering solutions such as ocean iron fertilisation are attracting renewed interest as desperation grows about the lack of progress in UN climate talks. We consider the pros and cons.   We also ask to what extent technological innovations could stop plastic waste from polluting the ocean, or whether more fundamental change is needed.  

Blue innovation will be a key theme of the World Ocean Summit in Tokyo, Japan, on March 9th-10th.  

More posts on the ocean economy: