The Ocean Economy and Innovation

Promoting sustainable seas and ocean with innovation

The world’s seas and ocean are under increasing pressure, both from a growing range and intensity of economic activities, as well as from climate change. The OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) has launched an original programme of work on the Ocean Economy and Innovation with the objective to provide decision-makers with an improved toolbox to foster innovation for harnessing the ocean economy’s potential in a responsible and sustainable way.

Selected Publications

ocean economy

Steering Board Members

BEL Department of Economy, Science and Innovation, Flemish Government

DEU German Marine Research Consortium (KDM) 

DNK Danish Maritime Authority

ESP Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN)

IRL Marine Institute

ITA Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn

KOR Korea Marine Institute (KMI)

NOR The Research Council


UK/SCOT Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Government

USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(other memberships underway)


The OECD project on The Ocean Economy and Innovation builds on the findings from a major OECD / STI project on The Future of the Ocean Economy: Exploring the prospects for emerging ocean industries to 2030This activity contributes to broader priorities of the OECD Committee on Science and Technology Policy (CSTP) (e.g. digitalisation, emerging technologies for addressing grand challenges) and is managed by the IPSO Unit (Innovation Policies for Space and Oceans). A follow-up programme of work is ongoing for 2019-2020.

Background: The ocean economy’s long-term potential in terms of growth and job creation cannot be fully realised unless more effective steps are taken to improve integrated ocean management -- including ecosystem preservation -- at local, regional, national and international level. That in turn will require significant progress in innovation and new thinking in many areas – in science, technology, R&D, manufacturing, infrastructural design, consultation and decision-making processes, institutional co-operation, and last but not least, in the policy mix that governments implement to support and encourage innovative capacity in the ocean economy more broadly. 

Objective of the programme of work: Provide new evidence-based information to decision-makers as to improve policies for sustainable ocean economic activities. These orginal activities contribute to respond to such questions: How much the ocean represents for countries today? How to identify sources of growth and make economic sectors ever more sustainable? How to value and support science and innovation in view of the major challenges to come?

ActivitiesThis will be undertaken through a series of expert workshops, research on new OECD indicators, and innovation policy discussions with ocean-related communities around the world (ministries, agencies, academia, foundations, NGOs and the private sector). The activities are organised around four major themes:

  1. i) Exploring the role of scientific advances and enabling technologies in driving innovation in the ocean economy;
  2. ii) Investigating emerging patterns and platforms of collaboration in innovation among different marine and maritime actors in ocean R&D around the world;
  3. iii) Extending the frontiers of the use of economic valuation, analysis and tools further into areas of ocean-related activities; and
  4. iv) Analysing the role of the public sector and the impacts of policy mix in boosting innovation in the ocean economy.
Selected Meetings (in addition to other events organised by Partner organisations):

10-11 April 2019: Workshop on Innovation Networks in the Ocean Economy, hosted by Rev'Ocean in Oslo, Norway

14 February 2019: Conference - Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean: Observatories and Knowledge Networks, hosted by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) in Lisbon, Portugal. Launch of the new OECD publication "Rethinking Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean Economy"

16 November 2018: Meeting of the Steering Board of the Innovation and Ocean Economy Project, OECD Conference Centre, Paris

14 May 2018: OECD Workshop on valuation of ocean observations, OECD Conference Centre, Paris

20-24 November 2017: OECD Ocean Economy Week, with several events held in the OECD Conference Centre:

20 November: Workshop on Green Ships, OECD Council Working Party on Shipbuilding (WP6)

21-22 November 2017: Greening the Ocean Economy, Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum

22-23 November 2017: New Approaches to Evaluating The Ocean Economy - 3rd International Symposium on the Oceans in National Income Accounts

10-11 October 2017: OECD Workshop co-organised and hosted by the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples - Innovation for a sustainable ocean economy: Developing the economic potential of our seas and oceans while preserving and improving ecosystem health



Contact: Mrs. Chrystyna HARPLUK, Project Coordinator, IPSO, OECD STI Ocean Economy Group,

News and Events

* On 14 May 2018, the OECD Secretariat held a fruitful expert workshop on Valuing Ocean Observations in Paris, with some 25 participants from 10 countries. The many exchanges demonstrated the richness and originality of the workshop for the ocean observing community. The insights gained during the workshop will feed into the production of a forthcoming paper on the socio-economic value of ocean observations. 

* In March 2018, the Campus Mondial de la Mer, a new network of ocean-related research centres and companies in French Brittany was formally launched. The OECD Ocean Economy Group Secretariat was invited to share its analysis on sustainable innovation schemes, and welcomed the Campus Mondial de la Mer as one of its many current case studies on innovation networks. 

* In early December 2017, the OECD Ocean Economy Group Secretariat shared expertise and chaired a session in Halifax, Canada at the the Sustainable Ocean Summit organised by the World Ocean Council. It also welcomed as a case study the Ocean Frontier Institute, as part of ongoing original OECD research on innovation networks.  

* In November 2017, the OECD held its first-ever OECD Ocean Economy Week. Four events took place back to back, including a Workshop on Green Growth of Maritime Industries; the annual OECD Green Growth and Sustainable Development Forum dedicated this year to "Greening the Ocean Economy"; the OECD Ocean Economy Group's expert workshop on "New Approaches to Evaluating The Ocean Economy", and the Steering Board meeting of the OECD project Fostering Innovation in the Ocean Economy. The expert workshop on "New Approaches to Evaluating The Ocean Economy" brought together some 60 representatives from government, industry, academia and international organisations to discuss the definitions, classifications and methodologies surrounding accounting for the ocean.The objective of the workshop was to share national and international perspectives on progress made in valuing the world’s ocean-based economic activities and the ecosystem services on which they rely.

* On 25-26 October, the OECD Ocean Economy Group contributed a keynote to the "Kormarine Conference 2017" in Busan, Korea. The theme of the conference was "Industry 4.0 and Green Business Creation". 

* On 10-11 October, the Zoological Station Anton Dohrn hosted a workshop in Naples, co-organised with the OECD, with a focus on "Innovation for a sustainable ocean economy: Developing the economic potential of our seas and oceans while preserving and improving ecosystem health". Four major issues for the future of the seas and ocean were discussed: the greening of shipbuilding and marine infrastructures; the decommissioning of marine platforms; the pivotal role of science and technology in enhancing maritime spatial planning; and innovation as the key force driving the potential emergence of a marine ecosystem restoration industry. The workshop saw the assembly of some 50 international participants from leading research centres, the private sector, and intergovernmental organisations. Outcomes from the event feed into current OECD research activities on differing models that will enable the ocean economy by stimulating innovation. 

* On 7-8 September, the OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz was in Lisbon, Portugal, to deliver remarks on OECD’s multi-disciplinary approach to the ocean economy, at the Ministerial Meeting on the Ocean and Human Health.

* In 5-9 June, the OECD participated actively to the Ocean Conference, held at the United Nations in New York, via presentations and the co-organisation of several side events with national delegations and other international organisations. The OECD Deputy Secretary General Douglas Frantz, contributed to several events, including a platform on the financing of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and an event on Innovation in the Ocean Economy, organised with Sweden. The OECD is providing five voluntary commitments that will contribute to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 and its associated targets for the oceans. From ongoing research on financing of SIDS to innovation mechanisms to foster a sustainable ocean economy, the OECD is providing many instruments and databases to support a more sustainable ocean economy (e.g. Policy Instruments for the Environment (PINE) database; the OECD work programme on Biodiversity, Land Use and Ecosystems, including marine biodiversity; and the OECD Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE) database).  Read the OECD Plenary Statement at the UN General Assembly.

* On 2 June, OECD findings on the ocean economy were presented at the 3rd Blue Planet Symposium, hosted by NOAA in Maryland, USA. As mentioned during the conference, ocean observations, measurements and forecasts will increasingly play a crucial role in the delivery of information needed for the development of economic activities in a sustainable way.

* On May 22, the Secretariat contributed to the Working Meeting of the Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action (ROCA) at UNESCO in Paris. Later in the month, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) published the first-ever Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR), which assesses the status and trends in ocean science capacity around the world. Scientific understanding of the ocean remains fundamental to carry out effective management of human activities that affect the marine environment, and support the long-term development of sustainable ocean economic activities.

* On 4-6 April 2017, the OECD Ocean Economy Group visited the UK National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton to discuss with scientists and engineers the innovative and transformative marine technologies that could / will be supporting the ocean economy. With its impressive scientific and R&D facilities, NOC was the host of the Ocean Business 2017 event. There were 340 international exhibitors onsite, manufacturers, service providers as well as start-ups in the maritime industry sector, with many parallel conferences and practical workshop sessions. 

* On 15-16 February 2017, the OECD contributed to the United Nations' Preparatory Meeting for the Ocean Conference to be held next June in New York. Different strands of OECD activities on the seas and ocean were presented during a side event, including the ongoing work on Innovation and the Ocean Economy.

* On 14 February 2017, the OECD Ocean Economy Group provided a keynote at the Oceanology International North America Conference, in San Diego. This is one of the largest marine science and ocean technology exhibition and conference in North America. 

* On 8-9 December 2016, the OECD held in Paris two important meetings: Its first expert Workshop on Fostering Innovation in the Ocean Economy (8-9 December) and the first Steering Board Meeting of the Innovation and the Ocean Economy Project (9 December). The purpose of the workshop was to provide an overview of the state of play in innovation in the ocean economy and firm up the key themes to be analysed in the next two year period. The workshop brought together 35 participants from government agencies, research institutes, industry and international organisations, representing 14 countries (Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA). The Steering Board reviewed and approved the proposed work plan, and the project was formally launched.

* On 27-28 June 2016, the OECD IPSO Unit co-hosted a Workshop on the Economic Potential of Data from Ocean Observatories, in Kiel, Germany, with the AtlantOS ProjectOcean observatories play a crucial role in our understanding of the oceans and beyond, but their impacts in our societies and the wider economy is still questioned, at a time when policy-makers need ever more evidence-based information to guide their priorities-setting. In this context, the workshop had two main objectives: review the state of evaluation and socio-economic impact assessment of ocean observations, and discuss a potential framework for improving the common international knowledge base. As a result, a dedicated OECD ocean economy activity coud be included in the 2017-18 programme of work, in cooperation with the ocean community.  

* On 27-28 April 2016, the OECD IPSO Unit organised a major Ocean Economy Symposium in Seoul, co-hosted by the Korean Ministry of Fisheries and KMI to launch the OECD flagship publication The Ocean Economy in 2030. Around 100 people were in attendance, with 25 invited international experts giving presentations. Several high-level Korean personalities gave keynotes: Mr. Young-jin Yeon, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries; Mr. Sung Gwi Kim, President, Korea Maritime Institute and Mr. Jin-soo Lim, Vice President, Korea Maritime Institute.


The Project in Brief

STI Policy Note





Working Documents

(restricted access to Members)

Oceans in the OECD