THE UNITED Nations Conference on Trade and Development is promoting a “blue deal” for global trade, investment and innovation at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference.

The UN Ocean Conference is currently taking place in Lisbon, Portugal. It opened on 27 June with a call for urgent action to tackle an “ocean emergency” driven by climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

“Sadly, we have taken the ocean for granted,” UN secretary-general António Guterres said to delegates. “We must turn the tide. A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future.”

The goal of this year’s conference is to reverse the ocean’s decline and identify innovative and science-driven solutions to threats such as sea level rise, ocean heat, ocean acidification and greenhouse gas concentrations.

In line with these goals, UNCTAD, the trade and development body of the UN, is suggesting the establishment of a blue deal for a sustainable and resilient ocean economy.

The concept of a blue deal was outlined in a 2021 research paper from intergovernmental organisation South Centre. It involves global trade, investment and innovation in the ocean’s economy.


UNCTAD said such a deal should support an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and help cushion the world against current and future crises.

It is calling for sufficient and long-term investment in the blue deal to conserve the ocean and use it for sustainable development.

“The ocean is the next great economic frontier as it holds potential for wealth and economic growth, employment and innovation,” UNCTAD said in a statement.

“The ocean’s resources provide food, jobs and income for almost three billion people, most of whom live in developing countries. But these resources and opportunities are under threat and their protection is underfunded.”

On 29 June, a conference event will focus on maritime transport in the context of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water).

The event will explore opportunities to monitor and reduce marine pollution and to enable the decarbonisation of maritime transport through space solutions and other innovative technologies.

The 2022 UN Ocean Conference will run until 1 July.