Ecosystem-Based Integrated Ocean Management: A Framework for Sustainable Ocean Economy Development

arrange them in three tiers (Figure 3), as suggested by Rockström and Sukhdef (2016). In this rep- resentation, the environmental SDGs form a joined (interlinked) circle as the foundation for achieving social goals (represented as a joined circle in the middle tier). These, in turn, form the foundation for economic goals (the top tier). The ecosystem

approach inherently recognizes system-scale inter- linkages and the dependence of human wellbeing on healthy ecosystems that is reflected in this rep- resentation of the SDGs, underlining the relevance of EB-IOM as a strategic approach for building a sustainable ocean economy.




Source: Rockström and Sukhdev (2016). Figure 3. The “wedding cake” illustration of the SDGs.

Four environmental SDGs form the bottom tier, eight social SDGs form the middle tier and four economic SDGs form the top tier: A healthy economy is built on a healthy society, which in turn is built on a healthy ecosystem. This illustration represents the fact that a healthy ecosystem is a necessary and non-substitutable foundation for achieving goals in the social and economic realms. SDG 17, which relates to building partnerships for achieving all other SDGs, runs through the three tiers. Adapted from an illustration created by Azote for the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, based on Rockström & Sukhdev (2016).

2.4. From blue growth to the blue doughnut For the past decades, the central goal of economic policy around the world has been economic growth, with GDP (or GVA) used as a measure of economic success at local, national, and regional scales. However, economic models that allow growth to continue in perpetuity depend on the weak sustainability paradigm critiqued in the pre- vious section (Dietz & Neumayer 2007). Once it is acknowledged that humans are dependent on healthy ecosystems and that these ecosystems have boundaries, an obvious question emerges, debated since “The Limits of Growth” (Meadows et al. 1972): is it possible to achieve perpetual eco- nomic growth within a bounded natural system? To some extent, growth can be decoupled from concurrent increases in resource use and envi- ronmental impacts. Technological innovations can increase energy and material use efficiency, and circular economy approaches can maximize

the re-use of products and recycling of materials, for example. As a result, qualified phrases such as ‘green growth’ and ‘sustainable growth’ (or the marine equivalent, ‘blue growth’) are gaining trac- tion in the economic development discourse (Ward et al. 2016). However, while technological innova- tions and circular flows should be central to the creation of sustainable economies, it is question- able whether decoupling can be achieved to the extent that would be necessary to sustain growth while reducing cumulative impacts that are already transgressing ecosystem boundaries (Ghisellini et al. 2016, Næss & Høyer 2009, Steffen et al. 2015, Ward et al. 2016). A much more fundamental question is: do we need perpetual economic growth for humans and the planet to thrive? Growth of what, exactly? For whom? The economic narratives that cast growth as a necessary driver and guarantor of human wellbeing and nature conservation are increas- ingly being questioned (Felber 2015, Raworth


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