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Mads Barbesgaard

Mads Barbesgaard

Associated Senior Lecturer

Mads Barbesgaard

Blue growth: saviour or ocean grabbing?


  • Mads Barbesgaard

Summary, in English

While the global rush to control land resources is well established, similar ‘power-grabs’ in relation to aquatic resources are less well-known and researched. Through on-going collaborative work between representatives of fisher peoples’ movements, scholar-activists and social justice organisations such processes have recently been coined as ‘ocean grabbing’. Increasingly, under the rubric of ‘Blue Growth’, global policy processes that purportedly align the needs of the poor with profit interests and environmental concerns are being pushed forward by burgeoning alliances of environmental NGOs, the private sector and international institutions. These blue growth policy proposals, drawing on market-based mechanisms, effectively open up for widespread commodification, yet are being advocated as the only ‘sustainable’ response to the increasingly dire straits of the ocean’s ‘health’. Coupled with this broader process of ‘selling nature to save it’, valuation efforts that also take the carbon storage and capture abilities of coastal ecosystems into account are increasingly being pushed as a crucial tool to fight the climate crisis. While proponents guarantee sustainable outcomes, similar market-based conservation efforts on land have had huge socio-ecological consequences for communities on the ground. Will blue growth projects have similar consequences for coastal communities? This contribution will, critically examine the policy proposals flowing from Blue Growth proponents and situate them within the broader discussion on multistakeholder governance and ocean grabbing.


  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
  • Department of Human Geography

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper


  • Human Geography


  • Ocean Grabbing
  • Agrarian Political Economy
  • political ecology