BANGLADESH EYES ‘BLUE ECONOMY’ FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Dhaka is going to host an international workshop on ‘blue economy’ with experts and representatives from 20 countries.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will open the two-day workshop on Monday. This will be the first such workshop Bangladesh will host. Officials say the decision came following Bangladesh’s landmark settlement of maritime dispute with neighbouring India and Myanmar.
Dhaka established its sovereign rights through international court verdicts on more than 118,000 sq km of maritime territory, 200 nautical miles (NM) of exclusive economic zone, and 354 NM continental shelves from the Chittagong coast.
It has raised hopes of extracting “plenty of resources” from the Bay of Bengal, considered by Bangladesh as its “third neighbour”.
Bangladesh, which lacks expertise and technology to exploit the resources, will seek global partnership, particularly from neighbouring countries.
Bangladesh is also considering drawing up a maritime policy. The workshop will help establish links and build relations with countries having expertise, feels the maritime affairs department of the foreign ministry.
Officials say Bangladesh also wants to better understand through the workshop the dynamics of an ocean-based blue economy.
At least 32 delegates from Australia, Seychelles, Sweden, Oman, China, South Africa, Iran, the Philippines, Japan, India, the Netherlands, Thailand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, United States, Kenya, Mauritius, Myanmar, Tanzania, and Mauritius would join the three-sessions of the workshop.
Sri Lanka has sent its minister for fisheries and aquatic resource development Rajitha Senaratne.
A senior official said the Bay of Bengal is understood to have a “geo-strategic link” but the workshop would focus solely on development issues.
The meeting is aimed at exploring the ways to utilise the blue economy as a development tool, he said.
Blue economy became a buzzword for sustainable development particularly in drafting the post-2015 development goals. Earlier, small island nations used to discuss this at their own forum.
“It (blue economy) is not marine fishing,” said Md Khurshed Alam, a secretary (maritime affairs) in the foreign ministry.
“It means sustainable economic development, taking into account advantages and strategy of managing the resources of the blue ocean,” he said.
Estimates suggest some 30 million Bangladeshis directly depend on oceanic economic activities like fisheries and commercial transportation.
The foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali earlier said Bangladesh believed poverty alleviation was possible by fostering the growth of “blue economy”.
He advocated this recently at a global forum in the Dutch capital, The Hague, when he suggested inclusion of oceans and seas in the post-2015 development agenda.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2014