WorldFish key contributor to formation of Shanghai Declaration

The Shanghai Declaration is adopted by acclamation. Photo is screenshot of virtual Zoom proceedings
Highlights
  • The Shanghai Declaration outlines principles and strategic pathways to maximize the contribution of sustainable aquaculture to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
  • It acts as a guiding document for future development, policymaking and planning in aquaculture for the next 10 years
  • WorldFish pledges to actively support the implementation of the declaration through three critical research and innovation priority areas and pathways as described in WorldFish’s 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy
     

WorldFish’s Director General Gareth Johnstone voiced support for the development of a stainable aquaculture sector through the Shanghai Declaration that sets principles and strategic pathways outlined in the document to maximize the contribution of aquatic food to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We believe sustainable aquaculture - as an important component of aquatic food systems - is critical to meeting shared national and global aspirations for establishing sustainable, healthy and inclusive food systems capable of delivering sustainable healthy diets for all,” stated Johnstone who is also CGIAR senior director of aquatic food systems.

The development of the Shanghai Declaration began in September 2020 by a group of entities that constitute the Friends of the Shanghai Declaration. WorldFish is a member of this group and was a key contributor to the formation of the declaration by providing valuable insights and crucial direction throughout the development of the document.

Johnstone also pledged that WorldFish will actively support the implementation of the declaration through three critical research and innovation priority areas and pathways as described in WorldFish’s 2030 Research and Innovation Strategy

A participants’ declaration

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, FAO special goodwill ambassador for Asia and the Pacific led representatives from a diversity of organizations and networks to endorse the declaration at the Global Conference on Aquaculture Millenium+20 (GCA+20).

This year’s conference was held in Shanghai, China and also virtually over Zoom in view of travel restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19. A total of 500 participants attended the conference in-person while another 670 participants joined remotely from all over the world.

Co-organized by FAO, the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), GCA+20 is the fourth in a series of development-oriented conferences that have shaped global aquaculture since the 1976 FAO Technical Conference on Aquaculture held in Kyoto, Japan.

Meryl Williams, a representative of the Friends of the Shanghai Declaration related the open and inclusive process in creating the Shanghai Declaration.

“This makes the Shanghai Declaration different and special. It is a participants’ declaration and not an inter-governmental or organizational declaration,” she proclaimed.

Matthias Halwart, the co-chair of GCA+20’s International Organizing Committee had earlier presented the draft of the Shanghai Declaration as one of three keynotes for this year’s conference.

“This declaration – your declaration – clearly shows how aquaculture with its impressive growth over the past decades has earned its rightful place and has earned wide recognition for its contribution to food security, to poverty reduction, to rural development and economic growth as well as food system transformation. And all of us have a stake in this,” said Halwart who is also the technical secretary of the intergovernmental FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) Sub-Committee on Aquaculture.

Guiding document for the next decade

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn leads global figures of aquaculture in endorsing the Shanghai Declaration. Photo is screenshot of virtual Zoom proceedings
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn leads global figures of aquaculture in endorsing the Shanghai Declaration. Photo is screenshot of virtual Zoom proceedings

Aquaculture is the fastest growing agricultural sub-sector with global production projected to exceed 100 million tons per year by 2029. Aquatic foods, which are rich in protein, essential fatty acids and bioavailable micronutrients are key components to a healthy diet. Aquatic foods are also one of the most traded food in the world with aquaculture contributing $165 billion in 2018.

Considering aquaculture’s immense potential to accelerate economic growth, provide employment opportunities, improve food security and deliver a nature positive source of good nutrition for millions of people in low- and middle-income countries, there is impetus to accelerate the growth and ensure the sustainability of future aquaculture.

In order to achieve those goals, stakeholders from government, business, academia and civil society assembled at GCA+20 to address emerging issues and opportunities, ranging from traditional family farming to cutting-edge technology through nine thematic sessions under the overarching theme of ‘Aquaculture for Food and Sustainable Development’.

“The declaration provides a clear pathway and we hope that this conference will stimulate further discussion and insights into how we can best implement it for the benefit of all,” Halwart added.

Halwart likened the declaration to a compass which the Friends of the Shanghai Declaration have prepared to guide future development, policymaking and planning in aquaculture.

“Hopefully 10 years from now, we will be able to say with the baseline of 2020 and with this compass in hand, we ensured the best possible contribution of aquaculture to the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving no one behind,” Halwart envisioned.

Science Communications Specialist, Communications