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Blue Food Futures Program

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Blue or aquatic foods – food caught or cultivated from oceans, rivers, and lakes – are highly diverse, rich in essential nutrients, and can be produced sustainably. However, they are routinely left out of discussions about the future of food. Recognizing this gap, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade) set one of its 10 challenges as ‘sustainably feed the global population,’ which highlights the vital role of the ocean in achieving many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG2: Zero Hunger, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, and SDG14: Life Below Water.

3 billion people get vital nutrients and 20% of their animal protein from blue foods
More than 2,500 different species or species groups of blue foods are wild-caught or cultivated.
⅔ of blue food consumed by people is produced by small-scale fisheries and aquaculture.

The UN Ocean Decade-endorsed Program “Sustainable Blue Food Futures for People & Planet”, or the Blue Food Futures Program for short,  will deepen our understanding of blue foods in food systems transformation, integrate research insights into policies, and foster a global network of blue food researchers. The program builds on the progress of previous research generated by the Blue Food Assessment, which filled important knowledge gaps related to the role of blue foods in global food systems. It also expands on knowledge-to-action initiatives set in motion by the Aquatic Blue Food Coalition, a multi-stakeholder group mobilizing support for better integration of blue foods in national and international policy fora.

Aquaculture farm on ocean.

Blue Food Science

Developing new insights on blue food system transformation

Research undertaken by the Blue Food Futures Program focuses on the roles of blue foods in addressing food, climate, nature, and social challenges. In particular, the program aims to develop thematic and regional research efforts – with attention to not only the opportunities, but also the limitations and trade-offs of blue food systems. These efforts are guided by a Science Committee of blue food scholars from around the world. This Science Committee identifies shared research priorities and shapes the thematic and regional working groups to bring new insights to policy discussions.

Blue Food Policy

Integrating blue foods into policies for food, climate, and nature

The Blue Food Futures Program leverages the Aquatic Blue Food Coalition to raise the profile of blue foods and share key blue food insights in international policy arenas such as the UN Ocean Conference, the Committee on World Food Security, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Our Policy Committee brings together blue food scientists, policy decision-makers, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to identify policy gaps and opportunities and synthesize scientific findings into actionable policy messages and recommendations.

Three women speaking on panel in front of blue wall.

Blue Food Community

Convening a global blue food community of practice

Blue foods are diverse and so too are blue food researchers and practitioners. Our community of practice encourages knowledge exchange among a global network of blue food actors. Blue Food Futures Program events support the blue food community in better integrating blue food research into national and international policy processes, building research capacity, and promoting access to blue food data. 

Additionally, the program co-hosts a monthly webinar series with other UN Ocean Decade Programs: Fisheries Strategies for Changing Oceans and Resilient Ecosystems (FishSCORE), Sustainability, Predictability, and Resilience of Marine Ecosystems (SUPREME), and Sustainability of Marine Ecosystems through Global Knowledge Networks (SmartNet). The webinar series features projects that focus on the impact of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture and the communities who depend on them.

For more information about the Blue Food Futures Program, contact Laura Anderson, Engagement Project Manager.

Image Credits: (1) Avel Chuklanov/Unsplash, (2) Rydzewski, (3) US Department of State, (4) COP27 Resilience Hub