It’s time for the blue foodies to come together and speak up
Preparing for the first United Nations Food Systems Summit is the perfect time for aquaculture producers to promote the role blue foods can play in supporting the SDGs.
Global Salmon Initiative (GSI) has published our Sustainability report today. It presents the eighth year of independently verified data for each of our member salmon farming companies, which covers 40 percent of the salmon farming industry in seven operating regions. The report has become a fundamental building block in demonstrating both good corporate governance and a commitment to progress towards transparent sustainability goals.
However, I think this year’s report goes even further. It is also an opportunity for us – the members of the GSI and the broader blue food sector – to highlight the role that responsible aquaculture can play in contributing to healthy and sustainable food systems. And now we must defend this message.
Let me explain why.
As part of the Decade of Action on Nutrition to Achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations Secretary-General will convene the first-ever Food Systems Summit (FSS) in September 2021, to help define the future direction of food systems. The summit aims to trigger bold new actions and innovative solutions to advance the 17 SDGs, each based to some extent on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.
As a sector, we are all very aware of the vital role that aquatic foods play in food systems. About three billion people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein. It provides essential nutrients, often with a comparatively small environmental footprint compared to other proteins. Yet blue foods are often missing from conversations about changing food systems and diets. This must change.
the Ocean panel reports that the ocean can sustainably supply six times more seafood by 2050, provided that better management and technical innovations are adopted. Oceans have the potential to become mainstays of food systems if they are transformed to be more sustainable, more natural and more accessible. But for this to be possible, we need to engage society at large and policy makers not only to include blue foods in the discussions, but also to make them aware of the trajectory already taken by many parts of the industry and to address all concerns head-on. They can have.
That’s why I would say there are two key things we need to do as an industry.
- Speak – share and highlight the many opportunities that blue foods can offer for healthy, sustainable and resilient food systems.
- Document in full transparency both our potential and our challenges. We’re not perfect, but by being transparent in our operations – where we’ve made gains and where we need more progress – we can engage in practical, solution-oriented dialogue and get people on our way to ensure responsible production.
For many of you, these are not new ideas. Yet in my new role as a member of the FSS Champions NetworkI have engaged in conversations throughout the summit process and must recognize the lack of representation from all of our industry. Although Blue Foods addresses each of the FSS’s courses of action, it is difficult to find a benchmark and recognition of the role of the aquaculture industry.
There are ongoing efforts to try to change this – led in large part by the Blue Food Rating and WorldFish – but more commitment and collective action are needed. So this is a call to action to engage – whether it is to comment course of action recommendations, join virtual dialogues (eg. a May 20 organized by WorldFish), engaging in the Community forum Or on social media. There are plenty of opportunities to share your experiences and the vital contributions of blue foods to sustainable dietary systems and diets; Now is the time to speak.
However, it is not enough to speak up. We also need to recognize the areas in which we need to improve, demonstrate our commitment to do so and deliver on those commitments. That’s why I think GSI’s sustainability report is a good example of how this is possible. It provides a framework that is easily replicable in other parts of the industry. The results not only allow us to report industry-wide sustainability data in an open platform for our stakeholders, but it also allows us to track industry progress on key metrics. Perhaps more importantly, it functions as a learning tool to help our members identify areas where we need to focus our improvement efforts. The more we operate in this ‘all cards on the table’ approach, the more we will be able to have effective dialogues on how to ensure that the global food system is able to provide enough food in a sustainable manner – and what do we do? It’s not just for blue foods but for all foods.
One of the biggest takeaways of the Dialogue at the Independent Food Systems Summit GSI recently concluded with the World Wildlife Fund that no one should operate in a silo. The food system is deeply interconnected, as are the supply chains and the efforts of the public and private sectors. Collective action will be crucial for the success of this FSS and for the future prospects of the food system.
We cannot allow others to define our future, we must act now, and the Food Systems Summit is the perfect opportunity to do so.