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Professor Vishwanath Attri : “Mauritius should make vigorous attempt on capacity building”

Professor Vishwanath Attri (left) and Somduth Sobrun, President of the Council of Foreign Relations - Mauritius.

The Council on Foreign Relations – Mauritius organised on Wednesday a talk on the theme “The Blue Economy – challenges and opportunities for Mauritius and other islands of the Indian Ocean.” The keynote speaker, Professor Vishwanath Attri, Chair in Indian Ocean Studies (CIOS) at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), highlighted that there is a sea of opportunities for Mauritius in Blue Economy. 


The talk organised by the Council on Foreign Relations – Mauritius on Wednesday at St. George Hotel, Port Louis, brought together various stakeholders from the sector including former Ministers, educators and former educators, policymakers as well as representatives from the Delegation of the European Union to Mauritius and Seychelles. 

Somduth Soborun, President of the Council on Foreign Relations – Mauritius, opened the workshop and introduced the keynote speaker Professor Vishwanath Attri, Chair in Indian Ocean Studies (CIOS) at the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). 

World ocean health in decline

Professor Vishwanath Attri stated that the Blue Economy is the 7th largest economy for the world with a value of USD 24 trillion. He uttered that it is a huge opportunity for mankind to take advantage of the ocean resources but we need to keep our oceans in good health so that they are productive and generate wealth for future prosperity. 

The health of the oceans is of the highest concern today, asserts the Professor. “Their condition is deteriorating while activities are increasing. We have to strike an optimum balance between what should be the amount of economic activity which are sufficient so as not to disturb or destroy the ocean health… The opportunities are enormous but with those the challenges are also great,” he uttered.

Professor Attri underlined that the Blue Economy is paramount for small island countries. “The first condition to exploit the ocean is to have a National Ocean Policy,” he said. He referred to European Union which is doing a good job in terms of Blue Economy. “During the year 2018/2019, the EU will be spending 509 million euros on projects related to Blue Economy.” 

The Professor elaborated on the relevance of Blue Economy. “It provides food and water, is a source of high economic growth and generates 3 to 6 trillion USD every year. Ten countries are taking the lead in Blue Economy, such as Canada, Germany, Kenya, Portugal, Sweden, among others. Mauritius, on its side, has embraced the Blue Economy in 2012 and it is working in collaboration with the World Bank, which wants Mauritius to serve as a model in Blue Economy leading to the high income group.”

Opportunities and challenges

Professor Attri is of the opinion that Mauritius has enormous opportunities. “In order to exploit the ocean resources for Mauritius, there are two types of grouping namely established industries and emerging industries. Mauritius has to get hold of the ocean data and should make a plan based on the realities of those data in order to know where its competitive advantages are situated, either the established or emerging industries. The focus should be on capacity building, creation of new courses related to marine sciences because Blue Economy is also defined as Marine Economy.”

The challenges, as enunciated by the Professor, are the levels of economic exploitation in the ocean. “It will definitely affect the health of the ocean and in parts of the world, it is in very bad shape. In addition to this, we have the climate change challenge. So whatever we do should not adversely affect the health of the ocean and we should not be caught up in the trap of climate change.”

During his talk, the Professor explained that he tried to index all the statements made by the Ministry of Ocean Economy and the relevant public officials in Mauritius made between 2012 and 2018. “It shows that Mauritius is very active but if I rate the composition of all those statements in terms of quantitative index of 10, the performance of Mauritius comes to 4 to 4.5 because the implementation part is lacking.” Queried about this, Professor Attri considered that Mauritius should try to make vigorous attempts on capacity building. “Besides the previously conceived projects on Blue Economy, Mauritius should be more concerned that the gains from the ocean economy are extracted and transferred to the people. That type of delivery aspect should be empahsised.”

He, however, indicates that Mauritius is taking steps in the implementation of the Marine Special Planning. “Here, the score is good. If I have to rate on a scale of 10, then Mauritius will be scoring 8.5. Mauritius is among the few countries in IORA which has initiated the Marine Special.”
Professor Attri highlighted that Blue Economy is also about empowering people, especially youth and women. “The major focus for Mauritius should thus be on creating decent and protective jobs and also empowering the local communities through employment.”


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