His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stressed that economic growth can and must occur in harmony with ocean-friendly practices. The President made the remarks speaking at the signing of a partnership between the Maldives and Blue Prosperity Coalition—a global network of ocean experts working to advance ocean protection and grow Blue Economies. 

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Maldives and Blue Prosperity Coalition as part of the President’s visit to New York, to attend the 74th Annual Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Abdulla Shahid signed the agreement on behalf of the Maldives, and the Founder and Chairman of the Waitt Foundation, Mr Ted Waitt signed the agreement on behalf of the Blue Prosperity Coalition.

Applauding the work of the coalition towards safeguarding the oceans, President Mohamed Solih stressed that the core values and principles of the coalition resonate with those of the Maldives. Emphasising that urgent action is crucial to protect the oceans, the President said that economic growth should be in line with ocean-friendly practices and that comprehensive scientific research and analysis is required to understand such practices best. 

Under the agreement, the Government of Maldives and Blue Prosperity Coalition will devise a programme to ensure the long-term sustainability of all Maldivian waters and thriving marine environment—inclusive of territorial seas, archipelagic seas and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It will also promote the advancement of Maldivian ocean science and stewardship through research, education, capacity building and outreach, including collaborating with and providing support to local scientists and civil society. 

As part of the six-year-long programme formulated under the agreement, the Government aspires to declare at least 20 per cent of Maldives’ waters as protected areas; promote regional engagement for strengthening Maldives’ position in managing shared Indian Ocean tuna stocks; develop a programme focused on advancing blue economy activities; ensure sustainable ocean management and support compliance and enforcement in its waters; and, improve public and private sustainable finance mechanisms for ocean management. 

Highlighting that collaborative marine scientific research would help the Maldives better implement measures for sustainable ocean government, President Mohamed Solih further expressed hope of beginning this work soon with Blue Prosperity Coalition and confidence that this is the beginning of a long and productive partnership. “For us, protecting the ocean’s health is an issue linked to our national security,” he added. 

Blue Prosperity Foundation is a coalition of partners engaging with countries to designate and implement 30 per cent marine protection and establish a Blue Prosperity Plan through Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)—an approach that uses spatial information about natural resources and human uses to develop a comprehensive management system.

With the global ocean economy valued at US$24 trillion, over one billion people rely on seafood as their primary source of protein; 30 per cent of the ocean should be protected to maximise fisheries and recover marine resources while only less than four per cent is currently strongly protected as no-take zones—areas set aside by governments prohibiting extractive activities. Over 60 countries are presently utilising MSPs to manage their ocean economies.