Deltas and the Blue Economy: what does blue economy mean for the deltas of the Indian Ocean?

25-30th November 2018


Deltas are a key ecosystem of the coasts along the Western Indian Ocean: their rich biodiversity supports productive ecosystems that, through flooding, have sustained indigenous use systems for centuries. Their strategic position on the River-Ocean continuum gives them a central role in the coastal biodiversity and economy. Most of these deltas are inhabited by people with wide-ranging and flexible livelihood portfolios combining farming, fishing, forestry, livestock keeping, hunting and gathering (e.g. of honey). This complexity requires a management that could take into account this specific hydro-dynamic, biodiversity and the local economies.

Over the last 20 years, there have been increasing calls for "integrated management" of the coastline, and more recently for "blue growth" and a "sustainable blue economy", which reflect a willingness to consider the dynamics of the coastline in a holistic way and reconcile economy, environment and well-being of coastal societies. However, the operational solutions for implementing a multi-sectorial and sustainable management in areas that are coveted and subject to conflicts of use are far from being known. Quite the contrary, the coastal zone and more specifically the deltas are a place of tensions between opposite and even contradictory visions of the land management: how to reconcile the conversion of the delta into agro-industrial projects (both agriculture and aquaculture,) and the delta land management based on the protected area model in compliance with a series of International conventions? How can oil and gas exploration be combined with local economies based on fisheries, livestock keeping and farming? Is tourism compatible with the development of industrial harbours? These contradictions are exacerbated in a context of insecure land tenure and threatened access rights for the local communities as well as increased vulnerability of the coast in a context of global change.

Objective of the workshop:

This workshop will explore the significance of the “blue economy” concept for the deltas. It includes a 3-day attendance and observation of the blue economy conference and a debriefing workshop on the 29th of October.

The participants are researchers who will observe and critically analyze the conference following a common protocol. They will be asked to convene for a debriefing on the 29th of November.