The Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) of the G20 nations must cooperate and undertake knowledge sharing so as to establish a coordinated audit response to audit the Blue Economy , GC Murmu, Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), said on Monday.
Such an approach would strengthen good governance and public welfare, Murmu said at a conference on ‘Blue economy’ organised by CAG, which as SAI India had on January 31 formally assumed the Chairmanship of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) 20.
In this pursuit, SAI can scale up their audits, develop study papers on the condition of the blue economy and make recommendations on how the governments could direct their efforts and policies for the sustainable development of the blue economy of their nations, Murmu said.
SAIs can also consider developing international auditing guidelines for conducting marine audits, bringing out joint research papers on marine health, sharing practical knowledge and expertise on audit of Blue Economy through audit toolkits, conduct of joint co-operative- audits, etc, Murmu suggested.
Collaboration of G20 SAIs
Under the guiding philosophy for India’s presidency of G20, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the CAG has proposed the collaboration of G20 SAIs on the blue economy.
Blue economy is an economic system that encompasses a spectrum of policy and operational dimensions aimed at conserving marine and freshwater environments while promoting their sustainable use, producing food and energy, supporting livelihoods, and acting as a driver for economic advancement and welfare.
The blue economy is intrinsically linked to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 14, labelled as ‘Life below Water’, concerning conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The UN has declared the decade 2021-2030 as the decade of “Ocean Science for Sustainable Development”.
NEXT GDP MULTIPLIER
With its vast maritime interests, the blue economy occupies a vital potential position in India’s economic growth, according to Murmu. It could well be the next multiplier of GDP and well-being, provided sustainability and socio-economic welfare are kept at centre-stage , he added.
India has a 7,517-km-long coastline that is home to nine coastal States and 1382 islands. The coastal economy sustains over 4 million fishermen and other coastal communities. There are nearly 199 ports, including 12 major ports that handle approximately 1,400 million tons of cargo each year. Moreover, India’s Exclusive Economic Zone of over 2 million square kilometres has a bounty of living and non-living resources with significant recoverable resources such as crude oil and natural gas.
The Centre had in 2019 unveiled its Vision for India 2030, listing Blue Economy as one of the ten most important dimensions to create a modern India. The draft policy document on India’s Blue Economy focuses on seven thematic areas.
Murmu highlighted that the concept of the blue economy is labyrinthian, cross-cutting, and complex in nature with multi-faceted regulatory landscapes being practiced in different parts of the globe.
Further, even nationally there is a potential of multiplicity of implementation agencies at different tiers of governance.
This intricately complex and variegated nature of the Blue Economy poses several challenges to audit , he said .
Gaps in monitoring and surveillance as well as insufficiency of coordinated granular data from various sub-sectors of the blue economy presents another challenge for auditors , Murmu added.
Audit criteria and framework for auditing sub-sectors like marine fisheries, coastal ecosystem, aquaculture, coastal and marine tourism, biotechnology from marine resources in particular, extraction of sea-bed mineral resources may exist. Murmu said that integrating them into a single auditing framework would be the key for all SAIs, including the SAI20 Engagement group.
GLOBAL MARITIME COMMERCE
According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) , more than three billion people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, a majority of them living in developing countries. Around 80 per cent of the total volume of international trade in goods is carried by sea according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) thereby again underlining the importance of the oceans to global maritime commerce and livelihoods dependent upon it.
World Economic Forum, Davos Agenda 2022 recognised the fact that G-20 Nations primarily have 45 per cent of global coastline and jurisdictional responsibility over 21 per cent of World’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
Therefore, eradicating poverty, from the world, would require realising the full potential of the Blue Economy in all countries, while ensuring a sustainable flow of resources, according to Murmu .
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