Sustainable growth for greater good

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Sustainable growth for greater good

The breakthroughs at the level of conceptual contribution has many challenging distances to cover in land, sea and space

Human civilisation stands at the brink of many seminal developments. Some are beginning to acquire a clearer profile, others are still in the mist. It may not be possible, here, to even list let alone explore the different unprecedented changes which await human existence.

However, two sectors are touching a large number of lives and their interface with the human population is only going to intensify. One of them is ‘space'. When the mystery of the far off stars yields place to scientific exploration there are many significant collateral results. Illustratively, satellite has transformed human communication and it is a quantum leap in the integration of the planet earth. Similarly, the sea with its depths is no longer a mystery to which many postulated the ‘disappearance’ of a parallel civilisation. The non-living resources of the sea, animals of the sea, the vegetation of the sea, not to overlook the obvious fishery resources are set to transform the way of human life.

No longer is size the determining factor of growth. A simple concept of Small Island Developing States is a new variable in the power and resource interplay of the planet. Beyond territorial jurisdiction the regulations of the high seas are getting increasingly into focus. The possibilities of bio-prospecting, marine transport and energy available from the principle of gravity are set to fundamentally reorder human dynamics. This will require new business models. Approach to system analysis is set for change.

Obviously, various declarations in different international fora have sought to address some of the issues. This is welcome, but clearly it needs to go farther. It may not be news to point out that sea bed is a major source of hydrocarbon. Like in the case of space, new technologies are setting lifestyles.

These technologies are changing the frontiers of marine resources development. The realisation that ocean values and ocean services will alter the assumptions of economic modelling and decision making processes are bound to determine the character of management. It may be one of the lasting gaps of the consulting universe that it has little identifiable competency for exploring these frontiers.

The sea, rich as it is in fisheries, throws up the universe of seafood processing, handling and storage. Sea food quality and safety are important. They are brought together by shipping and maritime connectivity.

They are embedded in the domain of ocean forecasting. Like in many other areas, India has made interesting forays in this field and there is the existence of a National Maritime Authority which is supposed to be an apex body aspiring to address coastal security concerns. Like in every other field the non-governmental organisation are also ‘fishing in the waters'. The National Maritime Foundation is a non-Governmental, non-political maritime think tank. DK International Foundation devotes a substantial part of its research energies in exploring maritime related concerns both globally and in Indian context. However, like in any other field, the Indian contributions in developing the concept of Blue Economy is at best at an early stage. Whereas, globally, during the Rio+20 deliberations, half a decade ago threw up the concept of Blue Economy, in India we are only beginning to harness the economic prowess of the sea.

The linkages between the Blue Economy concept and sustainable development is obvious, but deficient in cheerleading. The Belgian businessman Gunter Pauli made a parallel contribution in launching the concept of the Blue Economy. The Club of Rome did its bit. This was bound to be so, given the nature of any ‘open source movement' like the ocean. The realisation that not only can one creature's food be another creature's poison but also that waste of one system can be the input to another regenerative system. The entire circular nature of the sustainability chain is particularly embedded in template of Indian thought.

The breakthroughs both at the level of conceptual contribution and material operationalisation have many challenging distances to cover. There is an urgent need to apply the principles of equity to this emerging domain; handle it in a gender neutral manner and link it with livelihood and prosperity for the greater good of all stake-holders.

(The writer is a management expert)

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