(WASHINGTON – Sept. 23, 2021) This month, for the first time, aquatic foods will be recognized during the United Nations Food Systems Summit, or UNFSS, for their potential to tackle many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including ending hunger and fighting poverty. Fish, shellfish, aquatic plants and other organisms grown or harvested from water provide many nutritional and environmental benefits but have not been properly integrated into the global conversation about food systems.
Inclusion of aquatic foods into the UNFSS process provides an opportunity to elevate the role of these foods in addressing some of the greatest challenges facing our planet, like supporting sustainability, mitigating climate change and promoting nutrition that leads to better health outcomes. Aquatic foods can contribute to at least 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
“A sustainable future is possible if we start harnessing the benefits of aquatic foods. This includes recognizing the importance of small-scale actors, who account for most of the food production and the majority of livelihoods in the sector, as well as the largely untapped potential of small-scale fish farmers to significantly improve food and nutrition security for some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Thomas V. Grasso, vice president for Climate Resilient Food Systems. “As we continue to deal with the repercussions of climate change and the pandemic on food security, we must think of the ocean as an important source of food and nutrition.”Food systems across the globe are fragile, and many have deteriorated with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Conventional food systems, already struggling to meet the world’s growing demand, have been undermined by outdated supply chains and exposed as vulnerable to climate change and other shocks. Add to this the fact that:
- Global malnutrition is on the rise and hunger continues to plague far too many.
- The current global food system is not sustainable.
- And with just under a decade left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, no country is on track to reach them.
Sustainably harvested aquatic foods provide an opportunity to improve human well-being while lowering our carbon footprint.
When it comes to nutrition, aquatic foods provide an affordable, local and culturally appropriate source of essential micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids for many communities and populations that lack food security.
“Global leaders at the U.N. Food Systems Summit have placed such importance on the value that aquatic foods can bring to the world — it is an important milestone in our efforts to ensure healthy, climate-resilient and nature-positive food from rivers, lakes and our oceans,” Grasso said. “As countries begin to include aquatic foods in food system strategies, governance and investment, we will be able to better advance the SDGs and meet the needs of the growing global population in a climate-resilient and nature-positive way.”
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