India and Norway have agreed to jointly work in the sector of marine local planning in the oceanic space for the next 5 years. Regarding this, the first project managing committee meeting with representatives from both the nations was recently conducted virtually successfully, after which both the countries have charted out a schedule to ensure that human activities at sea can be taken place in a safe, efficient, and sustainable way across multiple sectors such as transportation, energy, aquaculture, fisheries, tourism, etc.
This is a part of the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two nations in 2019. For the project, Puducherry and Lakshadweep have been identified as pilot sites.
Both countries have decided to strengthen support for sustainable ocean resource utilization to advance social and economic development in coastal areas. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) will implement the initiative known as Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) via National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) for India.
In its initial phase, for Puducherry and Lakshadweep, the NCCR will develop a marine spatial planning framework. For the pilot project, these sites have been chosen intentionally in view of their setups with unique opportunities for several sectors (such as industries, fisheries, and tourism) to flourish.
The primary investments of the Indian Government for undertaking the planning and studies are estimated to be around INR 8-10 crore per annum. Notably, in support of the MoES in conducting MSP, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank have expressed interest.
The Indian Government’s vision of New India by 2030 stresses the blue economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth. MSP is worldwide identified as a tool for sustainable and integrated ocean management. It is a noted area for work in India’s (draft) Blue Economic Policy being developed by MoES.