New Paper – Blue Growth and Blue Justice: Ten risks and solutions for the ocean economy

Rapid and unchecked economic development in the ocean can produce substantial risks for people and the environment. But, what harms or social injustices might be produced by the ocean economy? This is the question that we examine in our new paper “Blue growth and blue justice: Ten risks and solutions for the ocean economy” published today in Marine Policy. Through this critical analysis, our aim is to stimulate a rigorous dialogue on how to achieve a more just and inclusive ocean economy.

Abstract: The oceans are increasingly viewed as a new frontier for economic development. Yet, as companies and governments race to capitalize on marine resources, substantial risks can arise for people and the environment. The dominant discourse that frames blue growth as beneficial for the economy, developing nations, and coastal communities risks downplaying the uneven distribution of benefits and potential harms. Civil society organizations and academics alike have been sounding the alarm about the social justice implications of rapid and unchecked ocean development. Here, we review existing literature to highlight ten social injustices that might be produced by blue growth: 1) dispossession, displacement and ocean grabbing; 2) environmental justice concerns from pollution and waste; 3) environmental degradation and reduction of ecosystem services; 4) livelihood impacts for small-scale fishers; 5) lost access to marine resources needed for food security and well-being; 6) inequitable distribution of economic benefits; 7) social and cultural impacts; 8) marginalization of women; 9) human and Indigenous rights abuses; and, 10) exclusion from governance. Through this critical review, we aim to stimulate a rigorous dialogue on future pathways to achieve a more just and inclusive ocean economy. We contend that a commitment to ‘blue justice’ must be central to the blue growth agenda, which requires greater attention to addressing the 10 risks that we have highlighted, and propose practical actions to incorporate recognitional, procedural, and distributional justice into the future ocean economy. However, achieving a truly just ocean economy may require a complete transformation of the blue growth paradigm.

Reference: Bennett, N. J., Blythe, J., White, C. S., & Campero, C. (2021). Blue growth and blue justice: Ten risks and solutions for the ocean economy. Marine Policy, 125, 104387. 

An open access pre-print of the paper is also available at this link:

New Paper in Nature Sustainability: Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy

A global group of collaborators and I just published a new paper in Nature Sustainability titled “Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy“.

In this paper, we argue that “The global rush to develop the ‘blue economy’ risks harming both the marine environment and human wellbeing. Bold policies and actions are urgently needed. We identify five priorities to chart a course towards an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable blue economy.”

Figure 1 - Economic development in the oceans

Our five recommendations, which are summarized in our press release, include:


  • Establishing a global coordinating body and develop international guidelines;
  • Ensuring national policies and institutions safeguard sustainability;
  • Promoting equitable sharing of benefits and minimization of harms;
  • Employing inclusive governance and decision-making processes; and
  • Engaging with insights from interdisciplinary ocean science.


Read the paper here:

Accompanying press release: Achieving a safe and just future for the ocean economy

Five Steps to Achieve a Safe & Just Future Ocean Economy