The University of Arizona

Resource sovereignty and accumulation in the blue economy: the case of seabed mining in Namibia

Rosanna Carver


Following its global emergence, the blue economy agenda is now touted as a mechanism through which the Republic of Namibia can achieve long-term sustainable and equitable growth. In (re)defining the ocean, seabed mining has been central to these discussions. Drawing on fieldwork and semi-structured interviews undertaken with key actors in Namibia and South Africa, between 2016 and 2017, as well as recent policy debates and discourse surrounding the potential extraction of marine phosphate in Namibia this article critically examines the framing of the marine environment as an extractive space. The blue economy presents opportunities for new forms of capitalist accumulation and this has resulted in struggles over who can accumulate in the marine sphere. This article therefore analyses the emerging and competing claims to sovereignty over this "new" resource frontier, including by state and non-state actors, and identifies which actors have been included or excluded from the blue economy agenda. In discussing sovereignty over this frontier and resources therein, it undertakes a rigorous analysis of the complications created by the ocean as a three-dimensional, voluminous, "borderless" space.

Key Words: Namibia, seabed mining, sovereignty, frontier, blue economy, EEZ

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