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New collaborative blue food program endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade

Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions and program partners will build a global network to further blue food research, policy, and sustainability solutions.
Hands eating fish on table.
Image Credit: Avel Chuklanov/Unsplash

Fisheries and aquaculture the world over – which provide over 3 billion people with vital nutrients – will soon have a new network of researchers and practitioners to champion policy and sustainability solutions. 

A new program from the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions and collaborators gained an official endorsement today from the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade). The Sustainable Blue Food Futures for People & Planet Program, or the Blue Food Futures Program for short, addresses food that’s caught or cultivated from oceans, rivers, and lakes. The program will build on the progress of previous research generated by the Blue Food Assessment and 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.

Established in 2017 by the UN General Assembly, the Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to accelerate science-based solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 ambitious and interconnected targets to reduce inequalities, protect the planet, and support health and prosperity. The new Blue Food Futures Program responds to a call for proposals to “sustainably feed the global population,” a challenge specific to the Ocean Decade that highlights the vital role of the ocean in achieving all of the SDGs, not only SDG 14: Life Below Water.

“We’re thrilled to receive this endorsement from the Ocean Decade,” said Michelle Tigchelaar, a research scientist at the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. “Blue foods have the potential to contribute to many of the UN’s SDGs. This program allows us to forge collaborations across sectors, connect research to action, and co-develop blue food solutions in specific geographies with local partners.”

The Blue Food Futures Program will be built in partnership with global institutions that are already leading efforts to integrate blue foods into global policy discussions. The Environmental Defense Fund, the Government of Iceland, the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, WorldFish, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, the University of British Columbia, and Xiamen University bring a powerful combination of research, policy and convening expertise to advance sustainability solutions. Through local-to-global research projects,  the partnership will further demonstrate how blue foods can help address social and sustainability challenges, such as providing equitable livelihoods, tackling malnutrition, and reducing the sector’s environmental footprint. The partners will also develop place-based initiatives co-led by local stakeholders and invest in a global community of practice to strengthen partnerships, better integrate blue food research into national and international policy processes, build research capacity, and promote access to blue food data. 

“It’s exciting to work with our partners to convene diverse perspectives from across the global blue food community. By learning from one another, we can build on initiatives already underway and make the most of opportunities to scale policy and sustainability solutions,” said Tigchelaar. 

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