The sustainable investor for a changing world

Growth, employment, consumption, renewable energy…These are all indicators that reflect the rapid rise of the ‘blue economy’ and its growing contribution to business and industry, better living standards and the development of a more responsible global economy.


Employment: Nearly 60 million people around the world – over 96% of them in developing countries in Asia and Africa – are employed in the fishing and aquaculture sectors, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) [1].

Fishing, aquaculture, seaside and marine tourism employ over 350 million people. The blue economy employs five million people in Europe, according to the 2020 European Union report.

Exhibit 1 - EU blue economy employment

Food and livelihoods

Consumption: Fish accounts for about 15.7% of the global consumption of animal protein. Aquaculture contributes half of that, according to the FAO. Its share is estimated to reach 65% by 2030. It is currently at 25% in the EU.

Blue economy activities provide a livelihood for over 820 million people around the world.

Growth rates

Growth: The added value or wealth creation from the blue economy grew by 9.7% a year from 2009 to 2016 in the EU, according to a study published by European Commission entitled What is the blue economy? [2]

Aquaculture is growing at the rate of 6.6% annually. This sector of food production from animal sources has seen the strongest growth in the world.

The average growth of marine biotechnologies (for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemical industries) is about 10% a year.


Gross domestic product: The value of ocean-related assets is estimated at more than USD 2.5 trillion, making the blue economy the seventh economic power in the world by GDP, behind France and the UK, but ahead of Italy and Brazil. [3]

Article 5 blue economy exhibit 2

Source: Reviving the ocean economy, WWF

The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that two-thirds of the ocean’s value relies on healthy conditions and that this value is deteriorating rapidly because of climate change and the way industries are exploiting the ocean’s products. This undermines the ocean’s role as a climate regulator and carbon sink, which are key to supporting future economic growth and the well-being of billions of people. [4]

Shipping and energy

Maritime transport: Over 90% of the world’s traded goods travel by sea. 75% of the EU’s foreign trade is shipped by sea.

Energy: Offshore wind power could meet 14% of the demand for electricity in the European Union by 2030. [5] The European Fund for Strategic Investments has invested over EUR 1.4 billion in offshore wind power projects. [6]

Article 5 blue economy exhibit 3

Source: IEA, Oct 2019

Blue economy and investing

As a global sustainability theme, investing in the blue economy is fully aligned with BNP Paribas Asset Management’s sustainable investment priorities. These are focused on the energy transition, environmental protection and equality & inclusive growth.

We believe investing in the blue economy will help advance the fight against climate change and ensure that the oceans can continue to function as a sink for carbon emissions from human activity. Such investments are suited for investors with a long-term perspective, an interest in contributing to a greener future and making a positive impact.

In our view, finance can play a major role in pushing companies linked to the blue economy to improve their practices. Those investors who consider the preservation of marine resources as an absolute priority are set to see investment opportunities in companies that develop marine and ocean projects opening up as awareness of the blue economy’s appeal grows.

[1] Source: 11 July 2018

[2] Source: What is the blue economy? European Commission/

[3] Source:

[4] Source: International Business Times, April 2015

[5] Source:

[6] Figure at end-2018; source:

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Please note that articles may contain technical language. For this reason, they may not be suitable for readers without professional investment experience. Any views expressed here are those of the author as of the date of publication, are based on available information, and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views and may take different investment decisions for different clients. This document does not constitute investment advice. The value of investments and the income they generate may go down as well as up and it is possible that investors will not recover their initial outlay. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns. Investing in emerging markets, or specialised or restricted sectors is likely to be subject to a higher-than-average volatility due to a high degree of concentration, greater uncertainty because less information is available, there is less liquidity or due to greater sensitivity to changes in market conditions (social, political and economic conditions). Some emerging markets offer less security than the majority of international developed markets. For this reason, services for portfolio transactions, liquidation and conservation on behalf of funds invested in emerging markets may carry greater risk.