Monday, April 30th, 2012...4:53 pm

Center for the Blue Economy Celebrates Its First Year

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The Center for the Blue Economy (CBE) continues to make waves. Established in March 2011 with a $1 million founding gift from Middlebury College parents Deborah and Robin Hicks in their capacities as trustees of the Loker Foundation, the Center’s first year of operation was formally celebrated at an April 12 reception in Monterey.

Professor Jason Scorse, director of the CBE and chair of the International Environmental Policy program at MIIS, explained to the assembled guests that “There is nothing quite like the CBE in California, the country, or the world. Unlike other marine policy programs, the CBE’s central focus is on the economics, management, and human dimensions that are key to addressing our most pressing marine policy challenges. The CBE’s work will help document the economic and social contributions of ocean and coastal resources, research the incentives and partnerships that can lead to behavioral change, and build international capacity to accomplish both of these goals globally.”

The Hicks’ founding gift, paid over four years, is supporting course development, new faculty, research, and internship opportunities for students. Three of the 14 current IEP students who attended the reception spoke about the internship opportunities that the CBE has made possible for them: Adam Fullerton (MAIEP ’12) at Conservation International, Alyssum Pohl (MAIEP ’12) at the World Wildlife Fund, and Lisa Johnston (MAIEP ’12) at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Last summer the CBE launched its Summer Fellows Program, placing seven Monterey Institute students with the top marine organizations in the world with fully-funded summer projects. Reports Professor Scorse, “The project leaders at these organizations pointed out specifically that they preferred MIIS students over those from competing graduate programs because our students have real-world skills, can communicate in multiple languages, and have a truly interdisciplinary and international perspective.” The program will expand in summer 2012 with projects in Indonesia, Palau, Belize, Mexico, Thailand, Rome, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, Costa Rica, New York City, Washington D.C., and the Caribbean.

MIIS President Sunder Ramaswamy framed the Center’s work this way: “We envision the Center for the Blue Economy as a nexus for responsible stewardship of coastal and marine resources both here in Monterey and—we hope—around the world. We recognize that responsible stewardship requires understanding how the health of the coastal ecosystem influences economic drivers such as fishing, agriculture and tourism, and vice versa.”

In her comments to the group, Deborah Hicks emphasized that “this is an investment in our youth and our future. These issues affect us all, but it’s the next generation of leaders who will be the agents of change.” Added Robin Hicks, “I invite you all to join us in supporting this important initiative.”

The more than 100 guests who attended the reception at the bayside Intercontinental Hotel on Monterey’s Cannery Row learned about the Center’s plans for major new research initiatives focused on:

  • Building ocean economics capacity in emerging economies
  • Analyzing the renewable energy potential in the world’s coastal zones
  • Creating new incentive systems for marine conservation for highly migratory species
  • Valuing deep-sea resources and building the international framework to govern them
  • Developing new sustainable supply chains for ocean resources, from the local all the way to the international level
  • Promoting the development of sustainable shipping policies for the maritime industry
  • Developing policies and institutions to facilitate climate adaptation in the coastal zones

“The timing for the CBE is perfect,” concluded Professor Scorse, “because the most powerful currency in current policy discussions, for better or worse, is economics and jobs. This is what people want to know about with respect to ocean and coastal conservation and management, and the CBE is perfectly positioned to provide rigorous analysis to make the economic arguments for sustainable marine management.”

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