The Blue Economy - Sustainability, Innovation, and our Ocean

The Blue Economy: Banner image

Course Description

Earth's defining feature is the ocean and it is the reason that life exists. It produces oxygen, absorbs carbon dioxide, and contributes to freshwater renewal. The ocean provides important goods and services to all of society, connecting countries and cultures while supporting ecosystems that cross national boundaries. It is a major part of the world economy, with more nations looking to the ocean to enhance livelihoods and wellbeing, particularly coastal communities and island nations. Some nations are looking at their large lakes and rivers to do the same.

The concept of the blue economy is a loosely defined development model that builds on that of the green economy and encompasses a range of activities and policy aspirations that vary globally. These aspirations are influenced by economic growth and socio-ecological sustainability priorities. Equitable, just, and sustainable blue economy frameworks will require innovative governance and practice across all levels of society. This course will explore the key components of the blue economy and link these to practical examples.

Course Contents

Week 1: Introduction to the Blue Economy
1.1  Course orientation
1.2  What is the blue economy?
1.3  The key principles of the blue economy

Week 2: Innovation and the Blue Economy
2.1  Coastal and ocean industries
2.2  Blue economy stakeholders
2.3  Blue economy innovations

Week 3: The Blue Economy in Practice
3.1  Blue economy knowledge support
3.2  National blue economy strategies

Week 4: Understanding Ecosystem Services
4.1  Introduction to ecosystem services
4.2  Our reliance on ecosystem services
4.3  Ecosystem threats

Week 5: Ecosystem Services and Global Ocean Economies
5.1  Valuing ecosystem services
5.2  The fundamental techniques used to value natural resources and ecosystem services
5.3  Natural capital and the blue economy

Why should you do this course?

The benefits of developing a sustainable blue economy are not only relevant to coastal and ocean nations, but also to landlocked countries who indirectly benefit from (and impact) the resources and services provided by the ocean. Additionally, this course is well aligned with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal #14 - Life Below Water, focused on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources, as well as many more of the SDGs.

Over five weeks, you'll discover the potential that the blue economy has to drive innovative ocean engagement. Through discussion forums with experts, videos and readings, you'll get to interact and collaborate with other learners. Our self-assessment model means you only take quizzes when you're ready. You will also receive a certificate upon completion to verify your achievement. If you spend 4-5 hours of your time per week on this course, you should be able to complete it in five weeks.

Target audience

The course is designed as an introductory course to attract participants from various backgrounds, both technical and non-technical. The integrated, cross-sectoral nature of the blue economy provides opportunity for new knowledge to be developed, regardless of how much or how little you may know.

Outcomes of this Course

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss the blue economy, its priorities and some of the challenges in operationalising a blue economy.
  2. Identify ocean sectors that form part of the ocean economy and those that have the potential to build a sustainable ocean economy.
  3. Recognise the importance of natural capital and ecosystem services to the blue economy.


Two levels of certification are available.

Certificates of Participation will be awarded to participants who pass two quizzes with 70% or more and contribute to at least two forum discussions.

Certificates of Completion will be awarded to those who meet the requirements for a Certificate of Participation as well as completing a final Position Statement.

Course Team


Kelly Hoareau has over 15 years' experience in environmental, sustainability and leadership roles, with first-hand experience of working in Africa and with various small island developing states and coastal nations, across marine and terrestrial ecosystems. She is the former and founding Director of the University of Seychelles’ James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute and a co-founder and management committee member of UniSey’s Island Biodiversity Conservation centre. She is currently working full time on her PhD which explores the role that knowledge systems play in supporting a more sustainable blue economy.

Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre; Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies; Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania, Australia.
James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute and Island Biodiversity Conservation centre, University of Seychelles, Seychelles.