Consultant for developing a Blue Economy Model Framework

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)


Result of Service

The services of the consultant will result in i) a pilot country study based on a Blue Economy Model, which estimates the environmental, economic and social impacts of policies, investments and other emerging trends; and ii) a framework document to accompany the model, which sets out the underlying drivers, linkages, methodological approach and pilot test results for the Blue Economy Model.

The model and accompanying framework document will feed into the overall Sustainable Blue Economy Transition Framework being developed by UNEP, as part of a ‘SBE Policy Toolkit’ along with the Blue Public Finance Framework. The consultancy will be closely coordinated with parallel thematic workstreams feeding into the SBE Transition Framework (including workstreams led by UNEP FI, TEEB4Coast and UNEP-WCMC).

Work Location


Expected duration

6 months

Duties and Responsibilities

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.” Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action. UNEP’s Ecosystems Division works with international and national partners, providing technical assistance and capacity development for the implementation of environmental policy, and strengthening the environmental management capacity of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The consultancy is under the Marine and Coastal Unit in the Marine and Freshwater Branch. The consultant will report directly to Programme Management Officer in Marine and Coastal Unit.

A healthy ocean is key for a sustainable future and underpins several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the feedback loops underlying the Blue Economy (BE) are currently resulting in the deterioration of the marine ecosystem, with negative impacts on economies and societies. Marine biodiversity and ecosystems continue to face multiple threats, including habitat degradation and destruction, pollution, unsustainable and unregulated fisheries, and the effects of climate change. A strong global partnership is required to reverse these trends, by mobilizing resources, enhancing capacity and sharing knowledge to help countries and regions transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE).

Transitioning to a sustainable blue economy would reframe the development of ocean economies around the sustainable management of their natural capital, integrate sustainability in macro-economic planning and key sectoral policies, and deliver environmental, social and economic benefits. Prioritizing SBE would support ecosystem-based ocean and coastal governance systems that manage, restore and safeguard marine and coastal ecosystems, thus contributing to an SBE, healthier people, and a healthier planet. The transition to an SBE could also help countries, ‘Build back better’ from the current COVID-19 pandemic, enhance their resilience to future crises, and support Agenda 2030, biodiversity commitments, and the Paris Agreement.

Within this context, UNEP is developing a SBE Transition Framework that will help countries integrate SBE considerations in their policy and planning processes, thus making the transition to a SBE practical and implementable. The SBE Transition Framework follows four phases: 1) Understanding the system; 2) Strategic Policy Development; 3) Implementation; 4) Evaluation and Adaptation.

To support the activities within the SBE Transition Framework, a Blue Economy Model Framework will be developed, to enable a better understanding the economic, social and environmental baseline and the underlying system dynamics (Phase 1), and aid future policy development (Phase 2). This will take the form of a model, and accompanying framework document, which will be developed based on the findings of previous feasibility studies carried out, namely the “Feasibility study for contextualizing GE modelling assessment approaches for a Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE)”

Developing a Blue Economy Model Framework can provide countries with holistic information about the Blue Economy and its sustainability. It can also shed light on trends and patterns (especially when data is lacking) and forecast effects of policies on the Blue Economy. The insights provided by BE modelling can enable countries to embed SBE considerations in national economic planning, facilitating decision making and development planning that considers and incorporates Blue Economy opportunities. For example, SBE modelling could facilitate the repurposing and of harmful fisheries subsidies (e.g. those which reduce the cost of inputs such as fuel, vessels and gear) to support small-scale fishers and the scaling up of nature-based practices, contributing to the delivery of SDG 14.6.

As highlighted in a feasibility study conducted, there are many existing models and tools that are currently used for Green Economy (GE) assessments. However, while the BE has similarities to the GE, current GE models are not yet well suited to the BE context due to the emphasis on land-based activities, lack of spatially explicit data and a lack of BE indicators used in current models. Further, while several tools have emerged to address niche areas of the BE, few tools provide a view of the BE in its entirety (especially the social dimension), and none allow for an integrated assessment of benefits/costs of SBE strategy implementation.

Therefore, to develop a Blue Economy Model that can provide usable information to policymakers, it is important to go beyond the tools developed for the Green Economy. This involves clearly setting out the inputs, outputs, and system dynamics (stocks and flows) that are needed to accurately model blue economy policies and their impacts. To achieve this, a Blue Economy Model Framework will be developed, which a) builds upon an existing model previously developed for the Green Economy b) focuses on adding appropriate and relevant SBE indicators; c) provides a pilot simulation of the model in a country of relevance, including running sample scenarios and assessing the importance (e.g. through a cost benefit analysis) of SBE indicators and; d) documents the key system dynamics underpinning the SBE in a technical report, with a brief overview of the results from the modelling exercise.


The objective of this consultancy is to develop a model, and an associated guidance/methodological framework, which can estimate the impacts of policies, investments and emerging trends on progress towards a sustainable blue economy. The model will include indicators and outputs related to environmental, economic and social measures of interest, and enable the future assessment of policies, investments and other interventions in terms of their impact on the transition to a Sustainable Blue Economy.

The exercise will complement the feasibility study conducted in early 2021, which assessed the applicability of green economy models to a blue economy context. The exercise will also complement other work being implemented in parallel, including the development of a blue public finance framework and the refinement of the SBE Transition Framework. Together, these tools will enable a “SBE Policy Toolkit” for policymakers and other national stakeholders to assess progress towards SBE goals.

Specific tasks and responsibilities:

The consultant will receive direction from Programme Management Officer, Marine and Coastal Unit and will be expected to carry out the following tasks:

• Identify a pilot simulation country, based on relevant existing Green Economy models and the prominence of blue economy issues, and agree this with UNEP staff.

• Identify relevant, local-level indicators of SBE performance for use in the modelling exercise. These indicators should reflect the definition of the SBE and the type of dynamics to be considered for policy analysis.

• Pilot test the expansion of an existing Green Economy model. This should build on the findings of the “Feasibility study of contextualizing GE modelling assessment approaches for a Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE)”, which identified models that cover different sectors and themes of the SBE. Linking or integrating these models could entail combining top-down assessments with bottom-up analysis, considering the use of spatial data.

• Document the findings of the model and simulation (including the findings of 2-3 scenarios and a cost benefit analysis of the inclusion of SBE indicators)

• Document the drivers and methodology underpinning the model

• Combine the drivers, model description, methodology and simulation findings in a ‘Blue Economy Model Framework’ document, which can be used as guidance for applying the model to other country contexts.

The expected outcomes are as follows:

• A Blue Economy Model and accompanying framework document, which can be adopted and adjusted at the country level to help policymakers understand the blue economy and the potential impacts of SBE policies

• As a result, the Blue Economy Model could be used to inform budgetary planning, test the effectiveness of policies and investments, and support the formulation of development plans in support of a Sustainable Blue Economy

• The Model will become a key tool in the SBE Transition Framework, which will be used to guide countries towards adopting policies and facilitating investment which positively affect our coasts and oceans

The Blue Economy Model should be developed based on one or several of the 40 green economy models that have been customized and delivered to date, which analyze the interconnections between the four capitals (physical, social, human, and natural). The choice of a pilot country for the Model development should be based on: i) the availability of data; ii) synergies to previous/ongoing workstreams and; iii) the importance of the Blue Economy to the country.

The Model should be customized to the pilot country, to represent the unique interrelations among the four capitals, via the involvement and interaction with key stakeholders, such as international and national experts and researchers, policy makers and members of local communities. However, while customization is important for the pilot testing, the consultant should maintain a broad scope within the Model, to feed into the wider framework document.

The Model structure, inputs and outputs should allow a simultaneous assessment of the social, economic and environmental dynamics enabled and triggered by the availability of coastal and marine ecosystem, and enable the identification of key drivers affecting progress towards a Sustainable Blue Economy. The consultant would be expected to deliver a proposal for the structure and key assumptions of the Model at the beginning of the consultancy for supervisory review.

The framework document to accompany the model should include (at following components of the model and the analysis conducted during the pilot test:
• A case for change – setting out why the Model can help policymakers
• The Model structure (incl. a diagram of stocks, flows)
• Key assumptions underpinning the Model
• A description of constraints/limitations of the Model
• The results of the pilot test conducted, including the impact of at least 2 scenarios on environmental, economic and social indicators
• A description of the key drivers and linkages which affect progress towards a Sustainable Blue Economy, per the Model results

The consultant would be expected to deliver a proposal for the format and outline of the framework at the beginning of the consultancy for supervisory review.

Qualifications/special skills

• Verifiable knowledge of blue economy drivers, challenges and modelling approaches.
• Established track record in implementing policy monitoring frameworks.
• Proven capacity for conceptual, analytical, and critical thinking.
• Demonstrable communication skills, both oral and written, including the ability to write clearly and concisely on technical, socio-economic, fiscal and environmental topics.
• Proven ability to analyze and communicate complex information at a simpler level to a wide audience.
• Demonstrated experience in undertaking research and producing economic policy analysis related to oceans or marine ecosystems is highly desirable.
• Proven organization skills, problem-solving, teamwork and coordination skills.
• Ability to establish an effective working relationship with people of different national and cultural backgrounds.
• Ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
• Commitment to respect the values advocated by the United Nations. 

Academic Qualifications: A university Masters’ degree in a relevant field: e.g. economics, agroeconomics, environmental economics, public policy, natural resource management, development, environment is required.

Experience: At least 5 years of experience in conducting green economy modelling, implementing green economy monitoring frameworks, research, data analysis; and writing reports with practical recommendations in green economy related areas, including economic and fiscal policies, oceans and marine ecosystems is required.
1+ years of experience in conducting research, analysis and modelling related to the blue economy is required.

Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations. For the post advertised, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another UN official language is an advantage.

No Fee