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Blue economy holds key to future growth

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The blue economy that comprises all water resources is emerging as the next frontier for global development. Extractive industries have driven the wheels of economies for generations, but have proved to be finite hence the search for options.

Indeed, old economies that thrived on mineral exploitation, for example, collapsed as the resources diminished and new industries emerged.

Nairobi is hosting a premier global conference on the blue economy, which offers fresh promise to the world. It is a landmark development for Kenya for the reason that not only does it bring hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds to our shores, but it also underscores the fact we have the potential to play a leadership role in the blue economy.

Kenya has vast water resources, including the Indian Ocean lakes and rivers. Lake Victoria that is shared by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, is one the world’s largest inland water masses, with a host of aquatic resources. Kenya hosts major rivers whose waters feed Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean.

Water resources have had historical significance. Early explorers travelled across oceans. Agrarian and industrial revolutions shifted focus but never negated the significance of marine resources. Which is why marine resource exploitation is back on the table.

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The renewed drive towards blue economy is necessitated by the desire to optimise the benefits that accrue from water resources.

Underlying this is the need to conserve resources, including eliminating pollution of waters, and protecting aquatic life. This requires progressive policies.

The coastal region is suffering from environmental degradation, unplanned development and encroachment on beaches, declining mangrove forests and annihilation of sea life. Lake Victoria is chocking under the water hyacinth and despite two decades of experimentation, little has been done to clear the weed and secure the water for posterity. Major rivers are drying up due to deforestation and devastation of water towers.

In essence, therefore, the purpose of the conference is to focus attention and energies on proper exploitation of marine resources.

Countries must change tack and harness the potential of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers to improve livelihoods and realise sustainable development.

We hope the conference provides a forum for candid discussions, and serious commitment to improving management of marine assets, bearing in mind that with the decline of other resources, they hold the promise of the world’s sustainable development.

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