Press Release
September 25, 2023

Senate Bill No. 2450 - Blue Economy Act
25 September 2023

Mr. President, esteemed colleagues:

Today, I stand before you to shed light on a matter of utmost importance, a matter that transcends borders and touches the very essence of our sustainable future - the Blue Economy.

On December 22, 2015, the UN General Assembly recognized the urgent need to protect and harness the potential of our oceans and marine resources to drive sustainable development, as encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 14. This resolution set in motion a remarkable journey, one that we are now ready to champion.

In 2016, an Advisory Group was assembled, and it established seven subsidiary preparatory working groups, each dedicated to specific targets within SDG 14. Among these, informal preparatory working groups (IPWG) 6 was tasked to explore SDG target 14.7, focusing on the concept of "blue growth" and the potential for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Coastal Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to reap economic benefits from their marine resources.

In 2017, the World Bank unveiled a groundbreaking report, "The Potential of the Blue Economy," highlighting the abundant opportunities lying dormant in the coastal and oceanic realms of nations that are yet to harness them fully. These untapped resources, such as natural gas and the Philippine Rise, a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau, have the power to transform economies and lives. Consider the staggering biodiversity found within the Philippines, nestled in the heart of the Coral Triangle. It boasts marine shore-fish biodiversity that is unrivaled, offering not only tangible stocks of marine resources but also the invaluable regulating services that support coastal states around the Philippines.

Yet, amid this natural bounty, we find a stark reality. A significant portion of our population, 60%, calls the coast home, with fisherfolk representing the second-highest poverty-stricken sector. This imbalance cries out for rectification.

The Blue Economy, simply put, embodies the sustainable utilization of oceanic resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and the health of our ocean ecosystems. It embodies our commitment to conserve, protect, and prosper in harmony with our marine environments.

The Blue Economy Bill, a priority in the LEDAC agenda, is our solution to this pressing issue. It aims to rewrite the narrative for coastal and marine resources, elevating their status in our development plans and ensuring that they contribute to our national economy and the realization of SDG 14.

I am proud to report that the agencies consulted during the crafting of this Committee Report are resolutely behind this effort. Entitled "An Act Establishing a Framework for Blue Economy," this bill unites our government in its pursuit of SDG 14. It encompasses all maritime zones, their seabeds, and subsoils, and obliges us to act in accordance with international law.

In essence, this bill proposes the formation of a Blue Economy Council, chaired by the Executive Secretary, and co-chaired by the Environment Secretary and Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority. This council will marshal the collective strength of various departments and agencies, creating a comprehensive policy framework and strategic plan within six months. It will address environmental-economic accounting, ecosystem services, marine spatial planning, industry development, and investment plans.

Moreover, the bill encourages investment agencies to establish Blue Economic Zones, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) promotes Blue Bonds for financing projects that safeguard our ocean health and contribute to SDGs 6 and 14.

In brief, this bill is a transformative step towards recognizing and maximizing the potential of our coastal and marine environments. It will bring them to the forefront of our development planning and investments, ensuring their enduring benefit.

With its passage, we will no longer overlook the wealth that lies beyond our shores, an area that constitutes over seven times our landmass. Our economy and priorities will align with this reality.

For these compelling reasons, I urge you to support and expedite the passage of this bill.

Let us unite to secure our marine wealth, making it not just visible but an integral part of our flourishing future.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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