Dashboards and Indicators for the Blue Economy

Published: 23 July 2021
Last edited: 31 July 2021
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The oceans are integral sources of economic growth and prosperity for many regions. Quantifying their importance and assessing their sustainable use require more than a single headline indicator such as “ocean GDP.” While headline indicators can be useful tools for summarizing complex data, production-focused indicators that reflect the share of the economy tied to ecosystems fall short of being able to assess sustainability and the health of ocean assets. Much of the ocean economy rests on the use of natural capital; however, such asset depletion is not captured in GDP-like measures. Multiple indicators capturing degradation of natural capital and productive flows must be used. The availability of digital dashboarding tools makes generating these indicators relatively easy and allows them to be nimble in responding to bespoke policy questions. Here, we demonstrate the dashboarding technique using the ocean economy in Norway as an example through publicly available data from Statistics Norway.


Central America
East Asia
East Europe
East and South Africa
North Africa
North America
North Europe
North and Central Asia
South America
South Asia
Southeast Asia
West Asia, Middle East
West and Central Africa
West and South Europe
Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Coral reef
Deep sea
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Open sea
Rocky reef / Rocky shore
Salt marsh
Seamount / Ocean ridge
Coastal and marine spatial management
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Ecosystem services
Fisheries and aquaculture
Health and human wellbeing
Legal & policy frameworks
Marine litter
Outreach & communications
Renewable energies
Science and research
Standards/ certification
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Waste management
Wastewater treatment
Water provision and management
Watershed management
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Inefficient management of financial resources
Physical resource extraction
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water




The sustainable use of our marine and coastal resources requires combining economic, social, and environmental data. For many countries, these data are collected by different ministries, at different intervals, and may not be readily synthesized for policymaking. Ocean accounts and digital data dashboards facilitate bringing these data together under a consistent, comprehensive, and comparable framework so that existing data can be used fully and gaps in data can be readily identified.


Beneficiaries of employing dashboarding approaches for natural resource management and accounting include policymakers, stakeholders in marine and coastal areas, national statistics officers, and beyond.

How do the building blocks interact?

Dashboards of multiple indicators to assess the sustainability of a country's ocean economy require data from various ministries to be collected periodically. These data support the tabulation of asset balance sheets which are crucial for benchmarking the tradeoffs between economic flows and depreciation/drawdown of the asset base that generates these flows.


Using digital dashboards to assemble and synthesize data from ocean accounts can improve decision making for the blue economy. The ability of digital dashboards to readily disaggregate multiple indicators to specific industries, time periods, or geographic regions can help quickly resolve disagreements about what scope is relevant and the significance—or insignificance—of different boundary definitions for potential policy outcomes. The “zooming-in” that digital dashboards enable allow stakeholders to locate themselves, or their communities, in the data without requiring retabulation by statistics offices.

Contributed by

Ethan Addicott Yale University School of the Environment

Other contributors

Eli P. Fenichel
Yale Univeristy School of the Environment