Last week Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions and Center on Food Security and the Environment, in partnership with the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Springer Nature and the EAT Foundation hosted 32 participants from around the world to develop a high-impact scientific assessment of the role of aquatic foods – a Blue Food Assessment – to be integrated into the upcoming 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. This collaboration formed out of a clear need – and also opportunity.
As Beatrice Crona, co-chair of the Blue Food Assessment, and based at Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden notes: “Several noteworthy assessments have concluded that to nourish a population of 10 billion people while sustaining the healthy ecosystems, there will be an increased need for aquatic foods. Yet there has been no systematic assessment of the assumptions, tradeoffs, possibilities and challenges embedded in such a vision.”
Co-chair Roz Naylor from Stanford elaborates: “In order to build a just, healthy, sustainable food system, we will need a much deeper understanding of how the extraordinary diversity of blue foods – thousands of aquatic food species being farmed or harvested using a great variety of technologies – affect nutrition, environment, equity, and economic outcomes at local to global scales. It is critical to identify trade-offs and winners and losers within the world food economy as the role of aquatic foods expands.”
In September 2021, the UN Secretary General will convene a global Food Summit. “The Summit provides an unprecedented opportunity to engage public and private sector decision-makers with new perspectives on the future of food production from the ocean and freshwater systems, and to bring a much deeper understanding of aquatic foods into global food dialogues,” explained Jim Leape, co-director of Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions.
“We are identifying and then filling critical gaps in our understanding of the role of aquatic foods in the global food system,” explained Fabrice DeClerck, Science Director at EAT. “This work will propel change in the policies and practices that shape the future of food.”
The Blue Food Assessment team includes a diverse group of researchers, who are preparing a series of eight papers, along with a synthesis report and a series of policy briefs, across several domains and themes: nutrition, environment, economics and justice, climate change, demand evolution, and smallholders.
“Aquatic foods have an increasingly vital role to play in feeding the world,” explained workshop organizer and COS Early Career Fellow Michelle Tigchelaar. “Through the Blue Food Assessment, we propose to provide a deep and comprehensive scientific analysis of the possibilities and risks of a growing reliance on aquatic foods. We have a unique opportunity to deliver impactful and actionable science to the diverse decision-makers shaping the future of food.”