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Maritime Good Governance and Sustainable Development: The Conceptual Perspective

Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, PhD, RSP, VSV, USP (retd)
Chief of Sri Lanka Navy, retired

Keywords: Maritime, Governance, Law, Blue, Economy, Sustainable, Development, Indian, Ocean, Region,


The ocean covers 71% of earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water. This ocean is the life support system for planet earth. Humankind has been using the oceans since time immemorial for venturing in explorations, navigation, wars, trade, leisure and for obtaining living and non-living resources. Oceans have been the main protein supplier for humankind. With the gradual increase of the population and depletion of land-based resourc- es, many countries now focus even more attention on the oceans. The oceans have been the lifeline of many countries and the economic livewire. “Oceans carry 90% of internationally traded goods” and generate half of the oxygen we breathe and absorb 40% of CO2 we produce. The Blue Economy refers to a sustainable ocean based economic model that is largely dependent on the coastal and marine ecosystem and resources. It calls for environmentally sound and innovative infrastructure, technologies and practices including institutional and financial arrangements for meeting goals of the Blue Economy. The Indian Ocean Region, unfortunately is not yet a rich region although some economies such as India and Bangladesh doing well. The population of the Indian Ocean countries are growing and the resources on land are depleting faster. Urbanization is taking place rapidly and the countries have no choice but to look at the economic benefits from the ocean. This would bring more industries and players to the ocean and make this strategically contested ocean a hotbed for econom- ic competition as well. The region needs to maintain a rule based maritime order with respect to international maritime law. It is essential that the freedom of navigation, overfly and exploitation of the ocean resources are maintained for the prosperity of the littorals and other users of this ocean. Developing countries need economic prosperity but not to be part of a strategic competition. This is a region of ‘trust deficit’ and hence Confi- dence Building Measures (CBMs) both in security and governance are needed. This paper is an endeavor to study the challenges in present day context and to make some policy recommendations to maintain the status quo of “Maritime Good Governance and Sustainable Development for Indian Ocean Region”.


1. FICCI Task Force, “Blue Economy Vision 2015- Harnessing Business Potential for India Inc and International Partners”, knowledge paper, April, 2017.

2. J S K Colombage, “Mapping the Potential of Blue Economy in the Indo-Pacific Region”, From Contest to Cooperation A vision for Shared Prosperity in the Indo-Pacific Region, United Service Institution of India, New Delhi, 2018.

Maritime Good Governance and Sustainable Development: The Conceptual Perspective