Special section: Political ecologies of the blue economy in Africa
Authors: Marleen S. Schutter (Lancaster University) , Christina C. Hicks (Lancaster University)
The Blue Economy has gained traction as a key concept that seeks to stem biodiversity loss whilst stimulating economic development, thereby integrating environmental and economic interests. Although the Blue Economy builds on the more familiar Green Economy, academic critique is still emerging and can be slow to translate into changes in policy and practice. What the Blue Economy means to national and local policy makers and practioners is seldom explored, and specificity is lacking on how the triple bottom line of economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social equity can be attained. This article explores these issues in one of the pioneering nations promoting the Blue Economy – the Republic of Seychelles – to establish a) how policy makers and practitioners in Seychelles perceive the Blue Economy b) what perspectives influence the concept; and c) who stands to gain or lose from its implementation. Seychelles has a unique position in Africa, due to its remote location in the Indian Ocean, its political history, and its pioneering role in promoting the Blue Economy: it presents itself as a leader for Africa in this respect. Using a combination of interviews and Q-methodology, we identify three perspectives on the Blue Economy in the country. Policymakers and practitioners are either: supportive in principle, critical in practice; pragmatic and accepting; or idealistic. These three perspectives capture the interpretations of those tasked with enacting the Blue Economy, but many of the perspectives present in international discourse are not present in the country, and indeed elements of them are met with resistance. Drawing on a social network analysis we find that the critical perspective is most influential in terms of information, both with government and non-government actors. However, the pragmatic and accepting perspective is more influential in terms of resource allocation, indicating a lack of resources could hamper actions by the actors that would like to see change.
Keywords: Blue Economy, blue growth, oceans economy, Seychelles, Africa, Q Methodology, network analysis, natural capital
How to Cite: Schutter, M. S. & Hicks, C. C. (2019) “Networking the Blue Economy in Seychelles: pioneers, resistance, and the power of influence”, Journal of Political Ecology. 26(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v26i1.23102