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ADB: Poor ocean health adds urgency to ‘green investments’ 

DECLINING ocean health is strengthening the argument for making “green” investments, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

“The continuing decline of ocean health is already impacting critical economic sectors, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions,” Melody F. Ovenden, senior environmental specialist at the ADB’s climate change, resilience, and environment cluster, said in a blog.

In Asia and the Pacific, fisheries and aquaculture account for $100 billion a year in terms of economic output.

The so-called blue economy, an economic model seeking the sustainable use of ocean resources through green infrastructure and technology, generates between $3 trillion to $6 trillion yearly.

Ocean-based industries expanded 21.1% in 2022, equivalent to 3.9% of Philippine gross domestic product. These include coastal accommodation, food and beverages, tourism, and offshore or coastal mining and quarrying.

The Philippines scored 58 out of 100 in the 2023 Ocean Health Index, including China’s “destructive” activities in the Philippine exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

“Oceans are under significant threat from pollution, ocean acidification, depletion of marine resources, and coastal degradation,” Ms. Ovenden said.

In response, the bank called on governments to push for investments in green ports and shipping, plastic recycling, and a shift in consumer behavior to “ocean-positive” practices.

It must also focus on building “nature-based” infrastructure and establish a natural capital valuation system.

The bank cited a quote from the United Nations, calling the Pacific Ocean “not just ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also its largest ‘carbon sink.’”

Any deterioration “not only jeopardizes marine ecosystems but also have far-reaching effects on global food security, livelihoods, public health, and disaster resilience.”

Countries should also build strong regional partnerships and engage local communities to strengthen ocean health, the ADB said.

Oceans produce half of the globe’s oxygen and catch 90% of excess heat generated by carbon dioxide emissions, it added. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz