GEOG401: Human Geography (Honours)
Dr Chris Brennan- Horley and Michelle Voyer
Gonzalez, Itzel, Imagining a Blue Future: The Blue Economy and Social Values in the Illawarra Region,
GEOG401: Human Geography (Honours),
University of Wollongong, 2019.
The Blue Economy is a new and contested concept which refers to the sustainable development of the oceans. At present there is no agreement around what marine and ocean industries can legitimately be considered a part of the Blue Economy. As efforts to grow the Blue Economy expand around the world, including in NSW, this project aimed to explore how values might influence community acceptance of ocean industries. Community support for the economic use of ocean resources is often tenuous. Existing scholarship tends to assess community acceptance of industries in a reactive way, after projects have commenced. This research used a forward looking approach, which attempted to foresee or predict how communities might respond to different types of Blue Economy activities, based on their underlying values. Three research questions guided this project: 1. How do values influence community acceptance in relation to the different sectors of the Blue Economy? 2. Which ‘Blue Economy’ sectors will people accept within their community? 3. Where would local stakeholders like Blue Economy activities placed in their community? A mixed method qualitative approach was taken incorporating sketch mapping, semi structured interviews, and crowdsourcing. This approach revealed a preference for non-economic values amongst research participants, especially aesthetic, recreational and therapeutic values. Research participants also expressed a spectrum of support for different marine industries, ranging from approval of tourism and renewable energy, through to complete rejection of extractive industries like mining. Values were seen to interact in complex ways, including through trade-offs, thereby influencing the level of support that participants had for different sectors. These findings suggest that community narratives oppose overtly economic readings of the Blue Economy. Wider environmental benefits were prioritised over other values. In addition qualitative mapping was found to be a useful tool through which to capture social values and provide insights into how communities might respond to different types of development and broader Blue Economy planning.
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.