Empowering Zanzibar's Blue Economy: Sustainable Solution for a Thriving Future

February 13, 2023
Blue Economy validation workshop

Building a brighter future for Zanzibar's coastal communities: Development partners and government officials come together to validate plans for an inclusive and sustainable blue economy

UNDP Tanzania

The crystal-clear waters surrounding the idyllic Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar have been a source of sustenance and livelihood for generations of islanders. However, with climate change and overfishing posing a threat to the marine ecosystem, urgent action is required to address these challenges and move towards a blue economy agenda.

Aligned with key development frameworks including ZADEPII and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 14: Life below Water, the blue economy agenda offers a path to sustainable, low-emission, and climate-resilient ocean use. As part of the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) larger 'Oceans Promise,' the blue economy agenda aims to realise the maximum potential of coastal countries by growing economies, creating jobs, improving food security, and reducing poverty, inequality, and gender disparities. UNDP has collaborated with the Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries to develop a Policy for the Blue Economy and a Strategic plan to guide the implementation of the blue economy in Zanzibar. 

Seaweed farmer in Zanzibar

Empowered and resourceful, this Zanzibari farmer takes to the sea to harvest a nutritious bounty of seaweed.

Brett Washington

More compellingly, UNDP is working to advance an inclusive and sustainable blue economy in the region through the development and implementation of a project “Advancing an Inclusive and Sustainable Blue Economy for Zanzibar”. The upcoming initiative’s approach will involve three key strategies, including marine spatial planning, sustainable habitat management, and post-COVID marine eco-tourism. Through these efforts, and collaboration with the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Development Partners, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector, UNDP in Tanzania hopes to support the island's women, children, and marginalised communities in building a more resilient and prosperous future.  

One key aspect the implementation of the blue economy agenda is marine spatial planning, which involves mapping out the various uses of the ocean, such as fishing, tourism, and conservation, and coordinating these activities to ensure sustainable management. UNDP in collaboration with the Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries and other stakeholders, are developing a plan that will meet the needs of all parties while simultaneously preserving the health of the marine ecosystem. Additionally, sustainable habitat management measures, such as coral reef restoration and the establishment of marine protected areas, will safeguard critical habitats and support biodiversity. These efforts also provide opportunities for sustainable eco-tourism, which can generate income for local communities.

UNDP is committed to promoting the recovery and growth of the marine eco-tourism sector by promoting safe and responsible tourism practices. Through these efforts, the UNDP aims to create economic opportunities while minimising negative impacts on the environment and local communities.

Ultimately, the UNDP in Tanzania is dedicated to enabling inclusive and sustainable development for all members of society, particularly women, children, and marginalised communities. By supporting livelihoods, preserving the health of the marine ecosystem, and advancing the blue economy agenda, the UNDP is building a brighter future for the island's inhabitants and the ocean that surrounds them.