Navigating the new normal calls for a move away from traditional top-down policies to greater public-private collaboration, says Mr Sasakawa.
Tommy Remengesau, president of the Republic of Palau (which has experienced a 23% decline in GDP resulting from a fall in tourism), presented an example of a successful partnership. As Palau set up the National Marine Sanctuary earlier this year, the challenge of monitoring the large ocean space for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing was daunting, he said. Recognising this, the Nippon Foundation in Japan contributed towards a coast guard ship that today allows Palau to conserve its waters effectively.
Partnerships such as this are needed to channel investments into a sustainable ocean economy. Analysis from the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy reveals that a US$5 return is generated for every US$1 investment in sustainable ocean solutions. Beyond environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks, Mr Sunami outlined a role for blue finance instruments such as blue bonds and insurance. He cited work with the Asian Development Bank and US-based Stimson Center on this front.
Investments will also be required to scale up initiatives in the private sector, such as those of Refinverse, a Japanese waste treatment company. The firm’s managing director, Tatsuhiko Kashimura, explained how Refinverse works with the fisheries sector by collecting discarded fishing nets which would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean. These are recycled into pellets and used for auto parts, construction materials and farming tools. They currently recycle roughly 300 tonnes of nets every year, but plan to increase that to 2,000 tonnes in the coming years. Such efforts address issues around plastic pollution, which is particularly acute in Asia and the Pacific.