UNCTAD Special Adviser for the Blue Economy

In 2020, Dona Bertarelli was named the Special Adviser for the Blue Economy for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), serving until 2023. She helped UNCTAD promote a sustainable and regenerative blue economy, particularly in developing countries, to ensure the responsible use of the ocean, seas and coasts for economic growth, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.

“We depend on the ocean for everything: livelihoods, food, transport, recreation, tourism, and even the very air we breathe. But our ocean is under threat. This affects all of us. Now is the time to do things differently to ensure a healthy ocean and a sustainable, regenerative blue economy that can benefit us all, for generations to come.”

Sustainable use of ocean resources can help developing countries boost employment, reduce poverty and enhance food and energy security, while advancing progress towards Global Goal 14, which seeks to preserve all life below water.

Over 3 billion people, most of them in developing countries, rely on the ocean for survival.

To improve their lives and livelihoods, UNCTAD supports developing countries to promote a sustainable blue economy by facilitating improved trade in ocean-based sectors and helping nations craft and implement appropriate trade-related policies.

It also promotes blue BioTrade, which entails ensuring sustainable biodiversity-based value chains, products and services in ocean-based sectors that adhere to internationally agreed criteria of environmental, social and economic sustainability – BioTrade principles.

For years, UNCTAD has mobilised countries to end illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and supported efforts to end capacity-enhancing fishing subsidies that contribute directly to overfishing – currently, 31% of global fish stocks are below sustainable biological levels.

UNCTAD also supports eco-tourism, which sustains the livelihoods of millions of people, especially in small island developing states, where the ocean-based tourism sector accounts for between 30% and 50% of the gross domestic product of most nations.