World Bank’s PROBLUE Plan and opportunities for Pakistan

Being the most resourceful and environmentally viable option, Blue economy is getting recognition as thriving strategy. More and more Costal states are now embracing the concept of Blue Economy as solution to their economic goals and rising development challenges. In fact a number of organizations and agencies are providing funding support to the countries that are willing to adapt this emerging trend. Common wealth Countries, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank are just to name a few.
Pakistan can benefit from these opportunities through prudent planning. For instance, PROBLUE is a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) that supports healthy and productive oceans, and implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) goes well with our needs and maritime development objectives. It is fully aligned with the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and increasing the income and welfare of the poor in a sustainable way. PROBLUE is part of the World Bank’s overall blue economy programme, which takes a multi-pronged, coordinated approach to ensuring the protection and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources. The subject plan focuses on four key themes:
n Management of fisheries and aquaculture.
n Threats posed to ocean health by marine pollution, including litter and plastics.
n Sustainable development of key oceanic sectors such as tourism, maritime transport and off-shore renewable energy.
n Building the capacity of governments to manage their marine & coastal resources in an integrated fashion to deliver more and long-lasting benefits to countries & communities.
Cross-cutting issues such as poverty, livelihoods, gender, climate change and maximizing capacity for development are the key ingredients of PROBLUE programme. Now the question arises that how Pakistan can get benefit from Blue economy support from World Bank. Keeping in view the scope of the funding opportunities available under PROBLUE Fund at the World Bank, following can be some potential areas for Pakistan to explore the opportunities for developing blue economy in the country:
Promoting Coastal and Marine Tourism in Pakistan: The coastal areas of Sindh and Balochistan are barren and can be wisely explored for sustainable tourism development. The focus should be on deriving the economic dividends from the beautiful beaches while preserving the marine and coastal environment. Some of the maritime think tanks like National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA), IUCN and Centre for CPEC Research has already developed expertise related to maritime tourism and studied the opportunities available in this sector. Keeping in view the issues and policy gaps, it is an area where maritime think tanks can extend support to relevant ministries, government offices and other private sector stakeholders for working on progressive plans.
Boats and Dhows Building in Gwadar: City of Gwadar has a modest wooden boat building yard with world-class skills and quality manufacturing output. The current magnitude and economic size of the boat building sector in the area is considerably significant. The boat builder of Pakistan a famous for building boats without pre architect maps and designs. There is need to sustain and promote this art at national as well as regional level. CPEC can provide an exposure to this industry to go global and increase its size as well contribution in national economy. In this regard, there is a need to make a comprehensive plan for sustenance and growth of this small scale maritime industry, with particular focus on exploiting socio-economic advantages, poverty alleviation.
Aqua-cultures and Mari-culture in Balochistan: The economic advantages of growing fishing and seafood industry in Baluchistan can be increased manifolds by promoting aqua or mari-culture along the coast. There is need to develop pilot projects to explore potential as well as, address administrative, financial and awareness challenges which are hampering growth of aquaculture. The services of fishers community of Sindh, for understating the financial framework based on their experiences, support of Fisheries Development Board (FDB), Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) for indentifying the suitable crops and last but not the least, WWF for sustainable practices can also be beneficent in this regard.
Capacity building Projects on Marine Protected Areas: Capacity building of the stakeholders involved in conservation and protection of marine resources at Sindh and Baluchistan provincial offices in particular, and at federal level in general, is a critical issue in Pakistan. The development at Gwadar under CPEC and increased used of oceans for port operations as well for fishing and growing tourism will likely to impact the health of oceans. In this regard, it is imperative to study and develop guidelines for MPAs in the region; which currently do not exist. Adaptation of management plans for MPAs is also a requirement for Pakistan under SDG’s goal 14. But lack of technical knowledge of our experts will likely to impact efficient management.
Ocean’s health is critical for blue growth. Keeping in view, the capacity building of the relevant stakeholders is considered essential. In long run, the protection of marine resources will help coastal communities to avail economic and socials benefits from sea in sustainable manner.
The World Bank provides technical assistance to the countries for seeking Funding in PROBLUE programme. It is important to note that municipal or provincial governments/officials within the country, are need to reach out to Federal Ministries to engage with World Bank. Therefore, in case of Pakistan, to apply for PROBLUE support, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs will be instrumental. Identification of blue growth plans in Pakistan with the support of World Bank experts can better lead to workable solutions. After processing, the selected proposals are usually forwarded to PROBLUE for support on behalf of the country.

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