Globally there has been recognition that there is little consensus attributed to the definition of the blue economy. However, despite this acknowledgement, the blue economy is championed for its development potential by the African Union and subsequently, several African states. Having formalised the agenda in its fifth National Development Plan Namibia is working to implement a governance and management framework to “sustainably maximise benefits from marine resources” by 2020 (Republic of Namibia in Namibia’s 5th National Development Plan (NDP5) 2017resssfdsq). Concurrently, new entrants, such as marine mineral mining projects, have emerged in recognition of the potential offered within the state’s Exclusive Economic Zone. This article argues that the uptake of the blue economy is shaped by multiple, and often conflicting, interests. The emergence of the agenda is not apolitical, nor has it been established in isolation from exogenous actors and interests. Subsequently, this article suggests that the critique of the emerging blue economy should be applied to discussions of a blue degrowth movement, to avoid transposing a new agenda over another. As demonstrated with reference to Namibia, contextual and historical issues need to be recognised by degrowth discussions, and their inherent and continued structural effects analysed. This is of particular importance when considering whose voices are represented or excluded by such agendas, complicated by the (geo)physical characteristics of the marine sphere.
Sustainability Science, vol. 15, 2020