The blue economy is understood as the use of ocean resources for sustainable economic development, improved livelihoods, and ocean ecosystem health. The blue economy is important in many fields, including coastal and marine tourism, which has been identified as a key sectors of the blue economy with high potential for growth.
In 2012, from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, the blue economy accepted as an important concept of world economy. Conceptualizations of the term vary and include: oceans as natural capital, oceans as good business, oceans as a source of livelihoods, and oceans as a source of new wealth and a driver of innovation. Developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) emphasize the use of ocean resources to provide employment and income, focusing on small-scale fisheries, tourism, and aquaculture to alleviate poverty and provide food security while seeking investment in measures to reduce climate and environmental risks to people and infrastructure. How can community-based ecotourism deliver on the trifecta promise of the blue economy - more social equity, less environmental risks, and ongoing support for the local economy?
One of those key commonalities is the valuation of the social and economic benefits derived from healthy ocean ecosystems, acknowledging that economies and human wellbeing are devalued through unsustainable practices. The other key commonality is the increased designation and delimitation of spatial boundaries in the ocean, an issue originally addressed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) adopted in 1982.
Many coastal communities around the world are highly dependent upon the functions, goods and services provided by marine ecosystems. Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems support food systems and livelihoods, regulate climate, and are closely associated with quality of life including recreational and cultural values. Historically, neoclassical economics has largely ignored the essential contribution of healthy ecosystems to human wellbeing in decision-making. Over the last four decades, academic literature has steadily progressed the understanding that natural systems are necessary for survival and, therefore, should be safeguarded.