A Better World - Volume 6

[ ] 14 A Bet ter Wor ld SDG14 — a holistic approach to global sustainable development Paola Reale, Research Programme Manager; Dr. Michael Phillips, Director of Aquaculture and Fisheries Science, WorldFish T he world’s water bodies are essential resources for food production, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and human well-being. However, the current trends in environmental deterioration, fisheries management, water pollution and climate change are affecting the oceans and aquatic ecosystems in ways that will be detrimental for the well-being of future generations. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide multiple targets for a sustainable future, many related directly and indirectly to the oceans, including SDG2 (Zero hunger), SDG1 (No poverty), and SDG14 (Life below water). An integrated and holistic food systems approach to deliver- ing wide access to healthy food diets from aquatic systems could create decent livelihoods and employment for many, while creating solutions to the climate and environmental crises and their impacts on human welfare. Aquatic foods, farmed and caught from the world’s waters, are a key solution to the goal of transitioning the world’s food systems towards nutritious, healthy, sustainable and inclusive pathways. Aquatic foods have unique qualities for nutrition and human well-being, with low carbon footprints among animal source foods, and with high potential for future growth, without increasing environmental impacts. In addition, both capture fisheries and aquaculture can provide important social inclusion and employment oppor- tunities for many people across the developing world. These many opportunities for aquatic foods, and their enhanced role within food systems to contribute to human well-being, remain to be fully realized. In developing countries alone, oceans support 47 million women and men engaged in small-scale fishing and fish trading. 1 The total global value of caught wild fish and aqua- culture was estimated at US$362 billion in 2016, with fish accounting for 17 per cent of global animal protein consump- tion in 2015. In the Lower Mekong river basin alone, fisheries are estimated to be worth around US$17 billion a year, support- ing many millions of people living throughout the region. This critical source of income and nutrition is under threat. With rapid and sometimes destructive development, over-fishing, and extreme climatic events, the once thriv- ing breeding grounds are rapidly degrading. As a result, it is anticipated that, in many places, fish catches and vital protein and nutrient sources for local populations will likely fall in the coming years. Livelihoods within the aquatic food systems need to become increasingly sustainable and resilient, with adequate incomes, secure access to food, markets and nutrition, and the capacity to manage natural resources in equitable, sustainable and innovative ways. Inclusion, nutrition and food security The populations of developing countries that earn their living by fishing, or that consume fish, need not only a higher income, but also better nutrition and food security. Small- scale fishers are experiencing a reduction in food availability due to competition with large-scale fisheries in some coun- tries, the effects of climate change, and unequal access to primary production, with dramatic consequences for those communities who traditionally rely only on a daily catch for feeding their families and ensuring a healthy life. Around the developing world, commercial fishing fleets from across the globe, racing against a global squeeze on fish stocks, have moved into the near and offshore waters where they catch millions of tons of fish for trade each year. Valuable fish are sold to other developed countries. As the burgeoning fish industry became a national priority for emerging island and coastal nations, flows of low- and high-value fish to local, coastal populations have changed. Pacific Islanders are missing out on the food that has served Image: Heba Al Begawi/WorldFish, 2014 Women selling fish from a newly constructed marketplace, Fayoum, Egypt. The fisheries and aquaculture sectors provide social inclusion and employment for many people across the developing world